Playdate. (n) A date arranged by adults in which young children are brought together…. A feature of contemporary American upscale suburban life in which “neighborhoods” have ceased to exist … A “playdate” is never initiated by the players (i.e., children), but only by their mothers. … For those readers… with an avid interest in American-suburban social climbing through playdating, this is the chapter you’ve been awaiting. – Joyce Carol Oates, My Sister, My Love

Nate should have been playing on the school’s sports teams. He was the best athlete in our high school, but some of his choices disqualified him. So instead, he joined the intramural teams, and his teams always won.

I was walking down the hall one day when Nate stopped me and said, “I have 9 of the 10 spots filled on my basketball team. I want you to be number 10. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

I scored two points – one basket – during the entire season, and it was accidental. But because the #1 athlete invited me into the #10 position, I was exposed to a game that became a lifelong love. I played in high school and college, and I traveled the world through athletic mission trips. And all because someone reached down into my world and invited me into his. Jesus’ definition of winning.

When we welcome those we consider to be below us, our eyes are opened to the stories of those we meet. It’s such a simple way to love – one that changes our life and the lives of those around us.

In humility, value others above yourselves…. (Philippians 2:3b)

Here’s something to consider: “above” and “below” – or “positive status people” versus “negative status people” – aren’t real categories. To classify people in this way is to forget that we’re all created in the image of God.

Just as Jesus welcomed all people then, He will welcome all people now. And because His Spirit lives in us and through us, we will find ourselves less concerned with Elevation by Association and more concerned with Invitation Without Discrimination.

Jesus, slow me down so I really see people. Open my mouth to ask about their story. Open my ears to listen. And may I be less concerned with what they might do for me, and more concerned with what You want to do through me. Amen.