John Newton would get an invite.
To my ideal barbecue, that is. I have a running list, just in case I host a barbecue and could invite anyone I wanted. Possible candidates include (past and present): Condoleezza Rice, Bill Cosby, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Martin Luther, John Adams, Johnny Cash and Gene Kelly.
So, why John Newton? I want to be like him when I grow up. His understanding of the gospel of grace was so consistent and intrinsic to who he was, it was woven completely into the fabric of his life; an example of that perspective is in the prayer below.
I ask’d the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and ev’ry grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.
‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust has answer’d pray’r;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.
I hop’d that in some favour’d hour,
At once he’d answer my request:
And by his love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this. he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev’ry part.
Yea more, with his own hand he seem’d
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Cross’d all the fair designs I schem’d,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Lord, why is this, I trembling cry’d,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way,” the Lord reply’d,
“I answer pray’r for grace and faith.
“These inward trials I employ,
“From self and pride to set thee free;
“And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
“That thou mayst seek thy all in me.”
So, who would you invite to your barbecue?