A New Dinner Party

Posted: June 15, 2008 in Jesus on Judgment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Living with the End in View involves
A New Dinner Party

When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:12–14)

Must we invite only the disabled and disadvantaged to our dinners? Are we to forego inviting our friends and neighbors to our meals? Does a reward in heaven depend on our choice of dinner guests? As always, we must pay attention to whom Jesus was speaking, and consider the circumstances which prompted the Lord to speak. Jesus frequently gave His wisdom based on events at hand.

Someone invited Jesus to a Pharisee’s house. Jesus noticed how they contested for the places of honor. They wanted the places of prestige so they could gain the respect of men more prominent than themselves. They wanted the praise of men more than of God.

Seeing their pride, Jesus gave the directions in the quote above. He summed up the situation with, “For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (14:11). At the judgment seat, Christ will deal with pride. So if we live for people’s praise, we will be denied God’s honor.

Jesus was our example. He came to please the Father, not please men. He came to serve, not be enthroned. He came to give, not get.

Jesus elevated humility, so our pride must be broken. The directions above were to help the Pharisees learn humility. By their experiences with the lower classes who could not reciprocate their help, they could straighten their skewed perspective and learn to love their neighbor. Jesus did not maneuver into position to gain honor from the Pharisees, but was content to minister to the outcast. He did not need to seek men’s favor because He rested securely in the love of God.

Perhaps we are rugged individualists who do not care about the opinions of others, and can’t identify with the Pharisees. Is there still room for pride and self-exaltation? Yes. We’ll merely substitute different, but still despised, groups for the “poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.” Perhaps we won’t be friendly with people in certain denominations because we don’t accept their practices or doctrine. Perhaps we can’t go out to the unsaved because they are “heathen pagans.” We won’t hobnob with people who worship in a different way, or who won’t accept our interpretations of Scripture as gospel truth. Or we may just feel that we are better than our neighbor, the bothersome classmate, or obnoxious co-worker.

Yet Jesus died for all, didn’t He? Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, Creator of the universe, and Judge of the living and the dead, stooped to seek and save the lost sinner. For this purpose He went out to us. The Pharisees isolated themselves from these classes because their motives were wrong. Why do we shun certain classes?

It seems odd that Jesus would make blessedness a matter of whom you invite to dinner. Yet the suggestion was uttered aloud to expose the pride of the Pharisees who wanted prestige. In the same way, Jesus telling a rich young ruler to give away his goods was to expose the ruler’s covetousness, his barrier to eternal life. Pride is a terrible barrier to knowing God. Wherever pride prevents God’s love from flowing through us, it must be broken.

Living with the end in view means seeing yourself as no better than others.

Steps of faith:
If you mainly meet with those who could advance your career or prestige, consider extending friendship to those who cannot help you.
If there’s a group at work or church which you despise, reach out and try to get to know them better.

–Steve Husting

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