Who's Invited?

Who's invited?

Scripture

Luke 14:12-14

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Observation 

Jesus noticed that the people were good about enjoying relationships with their close inner circle of friends, but it was hard to reach out to others. Jesus wanted to teach them about the actions of true disciples. They were not to simply hang out with those within their circle of friends, but they were to reach out and welcome others into their fellowship. This included those who would never be able to invite them back in return. 

Jesus was questioning the motives of those who threw and attended parties. What was the reason? To invite and be invited! Maybe if they were invited to someone special's home we could enjoy VIP treatment. It meant that their activities were actually quite self-serving, and Jesus was quick to point this out. He was asking the question, "who's invited" and "why?"

Application 

We would all confess that it's so much easier to have fellowship with those who are like us. It makes us feel much more comfortable. It's fun to go to gatherings with our friends and hang out with them. 

It's easy for the church to become like this. It may not be intentional, but over time we become comfortable with our own little inner circle and we have a hard time welcoming in the newcomer...or the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. It just takes so much more effort to be with these needy people! We may have to adjust our facilities to make it easier for them to get through the halls and that may mess with the aesthetics. It may take a lot longer to have a conversation with the person who doesn't speak my language because I would need to go through a translator. The poor people seem to just take from the church and their tithe will never make a difference. We need to find more people with resources to attend this church! And they're never going to come if we bring in the poor, sick and needy!

Before we know it we sound like the people of Jesus' day. I am convinced that one reason many churches in America are not growing these days is because we've become so nice and proper that we don't even know any poor, blind, or needy individuals to invite. We are throwing parties (church services) for ourselves, and sometimes we are just too busy to be bothered. We are concerned that there is little growth but we are not sure that we want things to become messy. So we keep trying to invite the same people, but they're not coming. In the meantime there are those who are spreading the table for those who have no resources to give back and they are coming.

And this brings us to the motivation of our heart. Are we more worried about fulfilling the needs of the churches we have built, than about the lives of those who need to hear about the transformational news of the gospel? Somehow I think God is bigger and has more resources than we can imagine. Maybe we need to look back at who we have been inviting and reconsider. 

Intentionally go and invite those who will come to the table without their hands washed, needy and messy. Suddenly we may just catch a glimpse of Jesus as we have ministered to the least of these.

Prayer


Lord, may my table, my home, and my church be open those who need to be invited. Amen.

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