Sermon Outline On Luke 14:1,7-14
In case you haven’t figured it out being a Christian is some of the hardest work you will ever do. Everything that the world teaches us God ALMOST tells us no, but is God really?
For example, the world tells us that we need to strive to be successful. We need to be the best that we can be and achieve ultimate success. In actuality, there is nothing wrong with this. God wants us to use our God-given talents in wonderful ways according to the calling in our lives. Where things go wrong is what happens to US with success and attitude. Too often when people become successful we tend to think too much of ourselves and believe what others are saying about us. We think and act like we are more important then we truly are. And, THAT, is what Jesus is trying to teach us in the first part of our lesson today. We need to be a humble people.
At a wedding people typically want to sit as close as possible to the groom and the bride and their families. There is nothing wrong with the desire. However, we also have to remember our place and the place of others. In Jewish culture it was very designed as to who was to sit where at a wedding feast. We have that to a certain degree ourselves. In our parable a man comes in and sees himself to be a very important person. As a result of his self-importance he does not even follow protocol to be seated by the host but instead assumes his self-importance and sits himself down in a place of honor. The mistake is in assuming his self-importance and assuming where he belongs at this event. If he is wrong he will be humiliated to be asked to move to a lower seat. Jesus instructs us that no matter who we are, no matter how good we become, or what positions we hold or what family we belong to we need to be a humble people. We need to approach every situation with humility. We need to remember that the first will be last and the last shall be first.
Now, this does not mean, then let me sit myself in the last seat so I can be given honor and moved up to the front before everyone’s eyes. What God wants us to seek in our lives is humility. One of the easiest ways to do this is to realize that all of our gifts – our thinking, our knowledge, our talents and our abilities are given to us by God. We may have to work hard to hone our skills but God is the one who blesses us with our gifts. If we always honor God in the things that we do we will keep our humbleness. 1 Corinthians 1:31 tells us, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” What that means is boast in the blessings that God has given you and give God the honor that you are given the ability to do the things you do.
A spiritual life in God is one that is always seeking more ways to serve and with great humbleness. Nobody likes someone who is arrogant or boasting about themselves. The people we admire are the one’s who work hard and do so with dignity and humility.
The same must be true not for us just as individuals but as a church. How are we as a church using the gifts that God gives us to give in ministry to this community? Are we using our talents in all of the ways we can or are we sitting on them. Are we bragging about our ministries or do we find ways to honor God in our ministries? Is it about counting numbers and keeping tallies for the things we do or is it more important about the souls and how much we are reaching out and making a difference in people’s lives? If we boast let us boast in the name of the Lord.
Mother Teresa was once asked, “How do you measure the success of your work?” She thought about the question and gave her interviewer a puzzled look, and said, “I don’t remember that the Lord ever spoke of success. He spoke only of faithfulness in love. This is the only success that really counts.”
Let us turn to the second part of our passage. He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Not exactly the guest list that you and I would put together would we? We want our friends and family members there. But God wants us to remember that everyone is worthy of being our guests just as everyone is worthy of being a guest at the table of our Lord. As we come to the Lord’s Table, we’re all sinners in need of salvation, beggars needing bread. We hunger and need the bread of life through Jesus so that we can live. We must realize that as we come to the table we are “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” We are poor because we either do one of two things. We either do not think enough of ourselves and have a bad self-esteem or we tend to think too much of ourselves and are in need of forgiveness. We come crippled to the table. We are crippled sometimes by our thoughts, our memories and the burdens of our sins. We come lame from years of carrying our burdens and not allowing Jesus grace to come into our lives and give us that healing power of love. We come to the table blind. Blind to our own sin, blind to our self-righteousness and worst of all blind to Jesus everlasting love that is here being graciously given to us. Yet God graciously includes us as guests at his Table. God longs for us to come to the table to receive our healing and forgiveness. God longs for us to have our eyes and hearts opened to all the possibilities of what life can be for you. God longs for you to come to the table and accept the deepest gift of love ever given.
There was a minister who had a favorite slogan that he often repeated in his sermons. He said, “The church is not like a country club; it’s more like a hospital.” That’s what Jesus was saying here when he gave us the direction, “… do not invite your friends … or your rich neighbors … invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind….” You and I are not in the church to impress one another or to win power struggles; we are here to minister to one another in our weaknesses. We are here to be hospitable. We are here to receive healing.
Remember when you were a child and you were going to go over to a friend’s house or to a birthday party of something? One of the last things my mother always said to me as I went out the door was to “mind your matters.” In other words I was to be polite, courteous, say please and thank you, not get in fights, be respectful, play fairly and to eat the food on the plate that was given to you. You knew what that phrase meant. Well, God is wanting us to mind our manners. We are to love one another; we are to put others before ourselves; if we can lend a helping hand that we need to do it; we are to be humble and acknowledge God’s blessings in our lives and we are to welcome everyone to the table just as Jesus did.
Being a Christian is hard work. However, the grace and the love are beyond measure and the benefits are out of this world. So let us go forth to serve in the world and may we do so in the name of God giving God the glory in all that we do. Amen.