Synopses & Reviews
You are Invited to a Dinner with Jesus of Nazareth
The mysterious envelope arrives on Nick Cominskys desk amid a stack of credit card applications and business-related junk mail. Although his seventy-hour workweek has already eaten into his limited family time, Nick cant pass up the opportunity to see what kind of plot his colleagues have hatched.
The normally confident, cynical Nick soon finds himself thrown off-balance, drawn into an intriguing conversation with a baffling man who appears to be more than comfortable discussing everything from world religions to the existence of heaven and hell. And this man who calls himself Jesus also seems to know a disturbing amount about Nicks personal life.
"Youre bored, Nick. You were made for more than this. Youre worried about God stealing your fun, but youve got it backwards.… Theres no adventure like being joined to the Creator of the universe." He leaned back off the table. "And your first mission would be to let him guide you out of the mess youre in at work."
As the evening progresses, their conversation touches on life, God, meaning, pain, faith, and doubt-and it seems that having Dinner with a Perfect Stranger may change Nicks life forever.
"In this didactic inspirational novella, Cincinnati workaholic Nick Cominsky accepts an invitation that he assumes is a gag: to have dinner with Jesus Christ himself. He soon finds out it's no laughing matter, and, despite his doubts and initial misgivings, he engages in a long conversation with the deity (who has jettisoned the long locks and sandals in favor of a Brooks Brothers haircut and blue suit). That conversation constitutes the novella's light plot. As the courses of their elegant Italian meal are delivered, Nick and Jesus discuss the dichotomies of sin and salvation, grace and works, organized religion and personal faith. In his quest to prove why Christianity is superior to other religions, Gregory has Jesus make misleading statements about Hinduism, Buddhism and particularly Islam. These unfair caricatures add to the book's heavy-handed feel, as do strawman arguments for the veracity of the Bible and the resurrection. What's appealing about this book is that its Jesus is refreshingly down-to-earth; he digs good food, draws theological illustrations from Star Trek, and quietly chafes at wearing a necktie. But that can't disguise the fact that Gregory has not written a story so much as a dressed-up and controversial sermon. (July 19)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A cynical young businessman accepts an invitation to dinner with Jesus, thinking it's a prank. The resulting encounter forces him to confront his spiritual questions.
About the Author
DAVID GREGORY is the author of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, A Day with a Perfect Stranger, The Next Level, The Last Christian, and the coauthor of the nonfiction The Rest of the Gospel. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning Master's degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and the University of North Texas. A native of Texas, he now lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Reading Group Guide
1. WEEK ONE: CHAPTERS 1—4
What was your initial reaction to the premise of the book?
Do you ever wish you could have some sit-down-and-talk time with God? Why? If you could sit down one-on-one with Jesus, what are two questions you would like to ask him?
Is there such a thing as actual reality? Why is it important for our belief system to correspond to reality? What difference does it make if it does not?
Whats wrong with saying about someones belief system that “Its true for them”?
How is Christianity distinct from the other primary world views, such as Islam, Hinduism, and atheistic naturalism (the material world is all there is)?
How does the Christian concept of God differ from the Islamic concept of God? Why does this matter in regard to humanitys deepest longings? How does your experience relate to this?
On page 28, Jesus makes the statement, “You dont want what youre ultimately trusting to be wrong.” What are you ultimately trusting concerning your eternal destiny? How do you know whether you will be with God for all eternity?
What are you trusting in the day to day aspects of your life, to live life to the fullest?
2. WEEK TWO: CHAPTERS 5 & 6
Why isnt God interested in having people try to perform for him? What is the implication of this for your own life?
If Gods business is restoring relationships, what does he want your response to be toward him? Toward others?
What do you think are the primary indicators that humanity is in rebellion against God?
Are there rips in the fabric of your life that only God is big enough to fix? Do you go to him with these things? How do you think he wants to use those rips for good purpose in your life (Romans 8:28-29)? How can you cooperate with God in his fixing process?
How does Islam water down Gods perfect holiness and justice? What is the way God can be both perfectly just and forgiving at the same time (see Romans 3:23-26)?
How would you answer the question Jesus poses to Nick on page 56: “Dont you think God loves you at least as much as you love Sara?”
Discuss the parable Jesus tells of the two schoolboys. How would describe the character of the friend with the better grades? How is God like this friend, only more so? Why?
What should be the impact on your life of knowing that God longs to have you with him, both in eternity and in your daily life now?
If you have not received the free gift from God that Jesus explains on page 58, what is keeping you from doing so now?
3. WEEK THREE: CHAPTERS 7 & 8
How is belief in God not a blind leap of faith? How is belief in Jesus as God in the flesh not a blind leap of faith?
What happens to someone on the inside when they place their trust in Jesus Christ?
If Jesus came to restore us to our original design, is God living in us part of how we were designed to live? What are the implications of this for you own life?
What aspects of your life would you like to change, but you dont seem to have the strength to do so? How does God want to be the one to do them through you?
In what sense is marriage “not about rules”? Why can Gods relationship with us be described the same way?
What does it mean to you personally that God became human?
Jesus said that he came to reveal the Father. Based on what you know about Jesus, how would you describe God the Father?
Most of the New Testament teaching on hell comes from Jesus himself. How does knowing this affect your view of hell?
How would you explain Gods purpose for the present time? In what sense will one day everything be made right?
What are the implications of the fact that God chose to suffer more than his creation
Are there hurts in your life that it seems God doesnt care about? If you are willing to share, what is one of them? What does this chapter have to say about whether God actually cares or not?
How does God use personal pain in His plan of restoring his relationship with people? Have there been wounds in your heart that have driven you to God? What were/are they? How did they drive you to Him?
4. WEEK FOUR: CHAPTERS 9 & 10
Are you stuck on a performance basis with God, trying to please Him through your own efforts? How does He want you to depend on Him living through you instead?
In what way is “God living in you” the best part of the message of Jesus? What difference should it make if God lives in us?
If God lives in you, is it possible to love those whom you dont have a positive emotional response to, at least at times? How does this happen in a practical sense?
Read the gospel of Luke, chapter 15. If you have placed your trust in Jesus as your Savior, is God “doing back flips” over you? What is the implication of that for you?
From the characterization in the book, how would you describe Jesus? What kind of person is he? What qualities of his stand out to you the most?
Which of the following aspects of the good news of Jesus Christ is most important to you:
·getting your sins forgiven
·being with God in eternity
·have a real relationship with God now
·receiving a changed heart with new desires from God
·God living in you now and forever
Overall, what was the most important aspect of the book to you personally?
What questions remain in your mind concerning any of the issues the book raised? Is getting an answer to these questions important to you? How are you going to go about getting your answers?
What is the personal application for you of Revelation 3:20, the Bible verse that the book closes with? How can we dine with Jesus daily?
What are action step(s) you would like to take concerning yourself as a result of reading this book?
What are action step(s) you would like to take concerning someone else as a result of reading this book?
FOUR-WEEK GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE