Timothy George says he never understood the radical nature of Jesus' ministry until it was driven home in a dramatic way. He was in his first year as pastor of the First Baptist Church in, Chelsea, Massachusetts. Chelsea, says George, is one of the most isolated, economically deprived, inner-city sections of greater Boston: there are 27,000 people crowded into less than two square miles. Chelsea is a receptacle for all kinds of dropouts --prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, all the people who have not "made it" and probably never will.
Every new minister to Chelsea at that time soon became acquainted with one of these drop-outs, an alcoholic known to everyone as Johnny Cornflakes because he often rummaged through the trash, looking through the cereal boxes or whatever to find a bit of food. George's church sometimes gave Johnny Cornflakes food and clothes and tried to see that he had a place to spend the night.
One Sunday after church Timothy George and his wife held their first dinner party in Chelsea for out-of-town guests. They had worked very hard to make everything perfect: they had brought out their best linen and their finest dishes in order to make a good impression. But right in the middle of the main course the front door of the parsonage burst open. Into their dining room in all of his inebriated glory sauntered Johnny Cornflakes. Everyone was startled!
Timothy later wrote that he suddenly knew what the Pharisees must have felt like. "Johnny Cornflakes was someone you'd hand a sandwich to at the back door, someone you'd deliver a CARE package to at the inner-city mission, but definitely not someone you would invite to a Sunday dinner! Yet," George continues, "this is exactly what Jesus did, he invited all the Johnny Cornflakes of Jerusalem to Sunday dinner with the best linen and the finest dishes."