Rom 12:5-16; Ps 131:1-3; Lk 14:15-24
There is no other place to find peace. Only in the LORD can we still and quiet our souls. When our hearts are proud, our souls are loud with protest. When our eyes are haughty, our souls are alert to find an offense. Sometimes, we busy ourselves with grandiose plans and sublime projects. We reach for the stars and fall flat on our faces. We take no comfort in the simple pleasures of life. We hardly notice the real importance and great value of those who have loved us from before we were born. Sitting still, within the warmth of unconditional love, is way too static and simply not exciting. We try to live in the fast track, and we strive to grab all the gusto. There is no hope for the glory of the LORD; there is no satisfaction with simple gifts. All that the LORD has to offer lacks the thrill of our well-designed agenda. We are self-made, self-determined, and consequently self-centered and self-satisfied. We no longer look outside of ourselves to find the peace that surpasses understanding; the peace only the LORD can give. Saint Paul counsels his converts in Rome to live in a manner that confronts the world and its values when he writes “Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.” The Lord Jesus, even during his public ministry, found people too busy, too absorbed in their plans, to even notice an invitation to the Kingdom of God. Have we stilled and quieted our souls enough to hear and respond to the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Come home to my Father’s House! Come live forever!”
The sovereign rule of Individualism and Narcissism are directly challenged and confronted by a gospel lifestyle. Saint Paul reminds the Christians in Rome that though many, they are one Body in Christ. Indeed, through baptism they have become parts of one another. This new identity in Christ and through the Holy Spirit does not deny the beauty and uniqueness of the individual. Rather, it places the gifts and graces given to each at the service of all. In relationship to the other saints in the Body of Christ, we must show sincerity, generosity, diligence, cheerfulness, affection, hospitality and honor. In relationship with God, we must show zeal, fervor, joy, hope, endurance, perseverance, and prayerfulness. It is this kind of Christ-like living that will enable us to bless those who persecute and curse us. To live this way strengthens and supplies us with what it takes to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with all who weep. Because we live a gospel-centered life, instead of a self-centered life, we are able to go beyond ourselves and share with anyone who weeps or rejoices! It is this kind of radical self-donation that makes our lives exciting to ourselves and to our neighbors.
We hardly ever hear of the Lord Jesus “in a rage.” Yet, it’s not hard to imagine that as master of the household, he could justifiably respond to the lack of response to his invitation to the heavenly banquet. The Lord Jesus tells a parable about the man who gave a great dinner. This feast was well prepared, and many were invited well in advance, so that they could make room for him in their schedules. However, nobody showed up, and there were plenty of good excuses! The Master wanted his banquet hall filled; such was his will and pleasure. The servants first brought in the poor, crippled, blind, and lame; the street-people were shown honor and respect and in turn they showed honor and respect. None of these used clever excuses to decline the invitation. No one said, I don’t need you or your master’s pity. No one excused himself by saying, I don’t have anything fancy to wear to the celebration. Not one street-person was so caught-up in self-pity as to say, “your master never cared about me before so I haven’t time for him now. Stop trying to use me to make yourself feel generous and kind to others.” Even with all the physically or socially handicapped people, there was still, room in the feast. So, the master sent his servants after the morally or spiritually handicapped people. Those who laid hidden on the highways or in the hedgerows were invited and responded. How will we respond today?