Invited to dinner, making excuses?

Project1A dinner invitation evokes many different kinds of responses. Some accept gladly, looking forward to time around a table when they will enjoy the company of friends and family even more than the meal. Some accept but dread the encounter, feeling that the invitation was offered more from obligation than delight. Some make an excuse, passing on the invitation.

Have you ever been invited to dinner and accepted, with some reluctance, only to find the occasion a complete delight as you discovered that someone you knew only as an acquaintance was a person who was really interesting, a person with whom you had much in common?

Jesus was invited to dinner often as His fame increased. Many wanted to talk with Him, to understand Him, or just to be around Him to share the glow. On a Sabbath, He was invited to dinner in the home of a leading Pharisee (a Jewish religious leader) where Luke tells us that He was ‘being watched.’  Jesus offered a teaching lesson urging the leaders at that table to extend their hospitality to people they considered beneath them- religiously or socially. He told them that “at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:14, NLT) Someone at the table gushed – “How fortunate the one who gets to eat dinner in God’s kingdom!”  (Luke 14:15, The Message)

Jesus has extended us an invitation to dinner. Yes, we are offered a place at God’s Table, a place to feast and enjoy His Presence.  The fullness of that promise will come when we are caught up to Heaven, where the Marriage Supper of the Lamb celebrates Christ’s claim on His bride, His holy people.  But, we are surely invited to come and feast in His Presence even now!  With great joy I remember that I am invited (and you, too) not because I am smart, or beautiful, or rich, or famous but because I am loved by my Father. He prepares a table for us and invites us to come to dinner.  There we will find strength for the journey, renewed hope for the future, and perhaps most important; a sense of who we are and why we exist.

My now adult children speak about our family dinners with real joy and delight in the memories.  We made a shared dinner each evening a priority in the middle of busy lives. It wasn’t a gourmet meal that brought us the most delight, though Bev fed us well. We loved and laughed and celebrated and mourned and shared life. No, we were not the perfect family. (There are none of those on this side of Heaven.) What we have is love and a sense of belonging. When we did not know where we fit in this world or if anyone cared for us we knew that around the table there at home we belonged!

This Monday morning, I want to remind you that you have a place at the Father’s table!  He loves when you come to share with Him. When the people of God gather to worship and share in the Holy Meal, He delights that you are there.  In Christ, you are no casual guest at the periphery of His awareness. You are a beloved son or daughter and in you He delights. The Psalmist says of God’s people that “They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.” (Psalm 36:8, NIV)

But …  have you accepted the invitation to dinner? After hearing that person at the dinner He was attending gush about being blessed to get an invitation, Jesus told a pointed parable about those who choose not to attend. In the first telling, He was pointing to the religious leaders who thought they had an inside track to God, but who were actually rejecting His fellowship.  To us, it is a reminder that so many others things can crowd out the more important choice of knowing our God, loving Him, and enjoying His Presence.

Take this parable to heart. Let this word from the Word become a reminder of the importance of accepting His invitation to dinner.  Let’s not let the urgent crowd out the important.  “Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ”‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (Luke 14:15-24, NIV)

___________

Come As You Are

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been

Come broken-hearted let rescue begin

Come find your mercy O sinner come kneel

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal

 

(So) Lay down your burdens lay down your shame

All who are broken lift up your face

O wanderer come home

You’re not too far

So lay down your hurt lay down your heart

Come as you are

 

There’s hope for the hopeless

And all those who’ve strayed

Come sit at the table come taste the grace

There’s rest for the weary

Rest that endures

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t cure

 

Come as you are

Fall in His arms

Come as you are

 

There’s joy for the morning O sinner be still

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal

 

Come as you are

Come as you are

Come as you are

 

Ben Glover | David Crowder | Matt Maher

© 2014 9t One Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Ariose Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Inot Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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