In the ancient world there was reciprocity when it came to dinner invitations. It was an occasion of social importance and power. You figured out pretty quickly your standing in the community on whether or not you were invited to a dinner party or not.
I apologize in advance for any trauma this might cause any of you, but do you remember going to Junior High lunch for the first time?
Our school at Westcliffe, Colorado, where I went to Junior High, was so small that the we ate in the same room and time as with the High Schoolers. One of the oddities and rites of passage in that place was if you got a roll, a brownie, or a sugar cookie the High School boys would steal it off your tray as you walked by. So, one of the tactics we developed was as soon as the roll or brownie was put on your tray, you picked it up and licked so that everyone would see.
As a part of the orientation, wouldn’t it have been helpful if there a heads up about the gluttonary practices of High School boys and we had been able to see a seating chart depicting where it was safe to sit and where it might be socially dangerous? Because where you sit in a junior high lunchroom matters.
The Creator-God is about to throw a world-wide feast of grace for broken people, but there will be a great reversal regarding the guest list. The singular dynamic of the life of people who follow Him is humility.
People who live to puff themselves up, will end up flat on their faces. But people who are humbled by God will be transformed to more than what they were before. A relationship with Jesus transforms us and exalts us by humbling us.
It’s the Jesus Way.
Despicable me and despicable you— with our hurts, habits and hang-ups, our pasts, our presents, our weirdness and our neurosis—we get a seat of honor at the dinner table of the Living God of the Universe all because that same God humbled Himself and came into this broken world as a baby named Jesus.
The one being in the entire cosmic universe who had no reason to humble Himself because He is perfect beyond comprehension, humbled himself to be born to poor peasant parents, worked as a calloused-handed carpenter in a backwater town in a no-name country and then began to go around from village to village inviting broken, wounded, misfit people to a great banquet.
Many people that I know spend vast amounts of energy, resources, and time to try to validate to someone that they belong; that they matter and are significant. So many people end up exhausting themselves elbowing their way to the table.
The good news about Jesus means that you can be honest with yourself and God that you are not Okay, but God welcomes you to the feast of love and grace anyway. He makes you a very important person, though you bring nothing to the table for Him.
If you feel like you are on the outside of the family of God, you are invited to God’s Table. You don’t have to wait until you feel Okay about yourself to come to the table of grace. Or you don’t have to wait until you have your act together. In fact, the messier you are the better it is.
But for some of you are already at the Table of Grace, but you have forgotten your table manners. Many people sitting at Jesus’ salvation table are still exhausting themselves, trying to earn the approval of bosses, peers and critics—that they don’t even like—and they are killing themselves along the way.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you don’t have to prove to anyone anything about your value.
I spent the first 20 years of my adulthood mostly trying to prove that I was valuable to God. Then when I lost it all and was at the bottom, God came to me and said, “Are you hungry? Wanna come to dinner?” I said, “I got nothing to offer you in exchange for the privilege of sitting at the table.” And He said, “That is what qualifies you to come. Besides, your place at the feast has already been paid for.”
And so has yours, friend.
So has yours.