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Devotion: Monday August 19, 2019 Devotion: Monday August 19, 2019

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

 

7 Now [Jesus] told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “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, 9 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.”

Jesus is talking about His solution to these things. He talks about the fire that He was going to bring on earth, the fire of His holiness and righteousness put in service to the Father’s justice and judgment. He’s talking about the work that He would do on the cross that would reconcile us to God and to one another. That’s the key. With Christ as the center of our lives, with His forgiveness as the key to our sense of self, with His words as the wisdom directing our words, and with His love as the motivation for our service, then there can be real peace, reconciliation, diversity, and tolerance. But without Him at the center, our efforts toward peace, diversity, and tolerance are all a sham.

Can the divisive Christ of our text also be the peace-giving Christ of the Scriptures? Yes, if you see His message not as some self-help, humanity-based proclamation for peace, but as a blood-bought, cross-earned message of peace and mercy offered as a free gift to you by grace through faith. When you see the cross, you see your Savior. His work on the cross overcomes the divisions of our sin, reconciles us to our heavenly Father, and, through repentance and faith, also bonds us to each other like nothing else can. The cross looks ugly, even divisive, but real unity and peace are found only there.

When it comes right down to it today, this is what should ultimately matter to Christians: “What does Jesus think about what I am doing or saying?” It shouldn’t matter what others think. It shouldn’t matter what society thinks. It shouldn’t be about what is popular or what is not. Why? Because Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Yet for many today, even many Christians, it doesn’t seem to matter what Jesus says about something. All that matters is that Jesus “loves” us. Of course, people then want to define what that word means too, right? But, my fellow Christians, doesn’t Jesus’ love for you also call you to follow Him, to trust in His word, to strive to live a life to glorify Him, and to serve others in His Name? Surely it does. And doesn’t our life ultimately depend on what He says about us? Surely it does. That’s why it’s important to hear what the lesson for today says. What matters in Jesus’ parable is what the head of the wedding feast says to the invitees. Period. 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 this story. He talks about a wedding feast, being invited, and how you should receive the invitation. The point? His Kingdom party is the one that you are invited to. Such an invitation is a gracious, undeserved gift, 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 the head of the eternal wedding feast says about you. And know this: you won’t be disappointed with His invitation, with His joyful celebration of life. Even His guidance and direction for how to live life at His party will be the most freeing way to live for God and for neighbor. His perspective on your life is what really matters for you. Without that, you are on your own. Sadly, today we’re seeing even Christians choose the “go our own way” view of life. You might recall the confused talk coming from the Bachelorette who professed that, even though she engages in premarital sex openly and unrepentantly, “Jesus still loves me.” And anyone who disagrees with that is open to public shame and ridicule. Or how about the former songwriter for Hillsong, a popular movement in Christianity, who now openly professes his unbelief? Many who have seen the reduction of the message of Christianity to a form of “personalized, therapeutic, self-help, deism,” regard such confused, public confessions as inevitable. So, now more than ever, for all of us, the invitation to really hear Christ’s word on His terms and to trust Him alone matters. And 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.” Instead, we strive to live a life of love which includes the joy of engaging in the struggle to follow Him in how we live, how we love, and how we serve those whom He brings into our life. Because, if the Bible is clear about anything (and it’s clear about a lot of things), it lets us know that when it comes to what really matters in our life, our Lord’s perspective, His judgment, and His mercy are what matter most of all.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me Your perspective on my life. Then teach me to value Your wisdom and guidance, Your perspective about who I am and what I 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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