Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is Luke 14:7-11 which says,    

Now [Jesus] told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


When we read Scripture passages like this, we are tempted to believe that Jesus is just telling us a moral tale. You know, “Here’s a way to be a good person: Sit at the least important place at the table, or open your home to the most undeserving.” So be a good person, or at least the best that you can. I’d like to insist that such an interpretation is completely missing the point that Jesus is trying to make. And, if you miss His main point, you also miss the “power” of sitting in the least important seat or the joy of opening up your home to those who can never repay you. Jesus takes note of how people “chose the places of honor” in order to make us think more deeply about God’s actions in our lives. That’s why it’s important to understand what the main point of our lesson is today.

What really matters in Jesus’ parable is what the head of the wedding feast says to the invitees. Jesus is dining at the house of a prominent religious leader of the community. For many, social status mattered then, just like it matters today. But Jesus turns that discussion completely upside down with His story. He talks about a wedding feast, being invited, and how you should receive the invitation. The point? God’s “kingdom celebration” is the one that you are ultimately invited to and it's the party that really matters! His invitation is a gracious, undeserved gift that has nothing to do with your status, effort, or position. So, come with a humility that is open to whatever place the head of the feast has for you. Why? Because this world’s idea of “first and last” doesn’t matter; what matters is what God, the head of the eternal wedding feast, says about you. And know this: you won’t be disappointed with His invitation or His joyful celebration. Even His guidance and direction for how to act at His party will be the most freeing way to live for God and for neighbor already now! His perspective on your life is what really matters. Without that, you are really on your own.

Sadly, today, many would rather dispense with the invitation altogether. We’re seeing many, even some Christians, choose the “go my own way” view of life. That attitude is unconcerned about what God says about me, or what God’s created and redeemed me to be. That attitude, whether religious or secular, finally rests on a spiritual arrogance that says, “What matters is what I think is important for my life.” Even among believers in Jesus, there are those who believe that the Good News of the Bible is that “Jesus loves you and me just as we are.” That’s an attitude which says, “I’ll sit at the banquet where I want to or I won’t come at all!” Such a sinful, rebellious attitude is spoken against by Jesus here and elsewhere in the Bible. In fact, to the “I’ll go it alone” folks, Jesus reminds us of God’s standards for such a life, saying, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Wow, what to do? It would seem that Christ’s perspective on my life is that I can’t do or be what He created and redeemed me to be ON MY OWN! And you’d be right. So, please, now more than ever, let’s not merely hear Christ’s description of our need/our predicament, let’s receive the Master of the banquet’s invitation on His gracious terms.

This is about way more than “moralisms.” The Good News is this: No matter what the world thinks about Jesus’ perspective, faith in Him means that even sinners like us aren’t going it alone. “Be perfect?” As a sinful human being I can’t, but Christ lived, died, and rose again to cover me with His perfection as a gift. If you want to know “my” perfection, I’ll point you to Jesus, never to myself. As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31,

It is because of Him [God the Father] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Then what about good works, or striving for perfection and holiness? Again, this isn’t about “moralisms.” This is NOT about striving for virtue, morality, dignity, love, and righteousness, to EARN A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (Christ is my perfection). Those virtues are to bless my family, my neighbor, and even my enemies. What about my enduring failures and brokenness? (I despise them and yearn for the day when all that will be gone for good). But, now, because of Christ, I can sometimes even put those to use in serving and loving others as “forgiven sinners” with all that entails. And so can you.

This isn’t moralism. Instead, it is a dynamic Christian life, alive by God’s grace in Christ ALONE, and active in works out of grateful obedience to God because there’s so many neighbors in my life that I get to love as Christ loves me. Let our Heavenly Father, the ultimate “Master of the Banquet,” have His say in your life. The result? An abundant life now and forever by faith towards Him and in fervent love towards others in His name. So, no moralisms, religious or secular, allowed!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me Your perspective on my life. Then teach me to value Your wisdom and guidance, as well as Your perspective on who I am and what I ought to do in all things. Thanks also for Your mercy and love which are new every morning to me and to all who believe. AMEN

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