I wanted to take a small break from my regularly scheduled programming (i.e. the next blog I’m supposed to write on Family Planning) and write a quick note about a few verses I read today. The thoughts come from chapters in Luke as Jesus is teaching about a wedding feast and a great banquet. These two things I can relate to as I observe many weddings. You have the “reserved” tables for the immediate families and the wedding party (so the closest friends), and then you have the tables where everyone else sits. Generally the reserved tables are closest to the bride and groom. So Jesus is teaching that it would be embarrassing to go sit at one of the reserved tables and be asked to go sit at one of the unreserved tables further away from the bride and groom, but it would be an honor to sit at one of the unreserved tables and be invited closer to the bride and groom and to one of the family tables. Jesus is trying to teach us as His followers to humble ourselves. Not to automatically assume we are closest to the head table (closest to the bride and groom if you will). As christians we assume those closest to the head table are the “good” christians. You know, the ones who go to church every time the doors open. The good tithers, the ones who fast and pray eloquently, you know who I’m talking about. Maybe and probably these are the people who grew up in the church. They were saved at a young age and they know all the right things to say. These people would sit close to the head table because they are good people/good christians. The problem, however, is that the host may come over and tell these people to go sit in the unreserved location further from the head table. This would be a slap in the face to these people, because they see themselves as righteous. It would be an even greater slap in the face then if the host invited a less than perfect christian into that place. The “less perfect christian” that you are envisioning currently will be different for different people. It really depends on how self righteous you are honestly. So this person may go to church once a week instead of three, he may not wear a tie to church, she may wear pants instead of a skirt, he may smoke, he may drink on occasion that you are aware of, his kid might go to a secular school instead of a secular school with a christian name (did I just say that out loud?), or maybe he was the “worst” of sinners and JUST repented yesterday so therefor isn’t even in the same ballpark as you righteous living wise. The point isn’t the “sin” whether you made it a sin or if the Bible actually calls it a sin, the point is the self righteousness that wells up in your chest as you compare your life with the life of others. The point is that the most “righteous” of christians should still humble himself and put himself LAST. He should not go sit near the head table because he thinks highly of himself! How much more of an honor will it be when Jesus himself comes and says “you come closer to me?” Wow, that would be an honor for sure! Jesus went on to say, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” A few chapters later he gives yet another example of this and says the same thing (Luke 18:14).
I chose the title, “Ungrateful,” because I feel like those who do not humble themselves are the self righteous who take for granted the blood of the sacrifice. I will include myself in this category actually. I wake up and get on my I phone when my Bible is sitting right beside it. I don’t always see my sin as something disgusting in the sight of God but I can easily see the sin of others in that light. So Jesus goes on with his parable and he describes a great banquet. The host invites the “godly” as the parable is understood. In this day the “godly” would be the good Jews. The really religious ones as it were. So these people the host invited say they will come, the food is prepared, and then they start making excuses not to come. Since the originally invited were not to come -and the food would go to waste- the host goes out and invites in the poor, crippled, blind, and lame. He then goes out and literally invites EVERYONE (the gentiles are inferred), and the originally invited will be replaced. This is me, a christian who grew up in the church and has heard the gospel many times. I don’t always JUMP at the opportunity to go to the great banquet! I don’t jump at the opportunity because I’m not starving if you get what I mean. I may let everyday things become more important than the things that matter. I might see myself as justified and not currently reliant on Christ on a daily basis. You see, I might be ungrateful that Jesus came and died on the cross that all of my sins would be forgiven and washed clean, because I don’t see myself as a wretched sinner. I might not see myself as a sinner because I do all the right things, and when I compare myself to others I’m doing pretty good. I see myself this way until I sit, humble myself, and see myself as I truly am. A sinner ONLY saved by the GRACE of an all mighty God! We should never see ourselves as “better christians,” because of our works, than another. We should always be willing to say what the tax collector in Luke 18 said, “God be merciful on me, a sinner!” Then to you cultural christians, who grew up in the church and believe your a christian somehow by default, I want to say please don’t miss out on the banquet feast. You may do all the church things, but that won’t/does not save you. The host -God- has invited you to the table, but if you make excuses and don’t accept the invitation you WILL be replaced. Please study yourself in the faith. As Paul says, “study yourself approved.”
Verses to read: Luke 14:7-24 and 18:9-14