Submitted by Rev. Steve Schantz,
Congregational Care Pastor/Director of Life Groups

Jesus regularly challenged his audience to look beyond their own interests. While reclining at a table at an invitational dinner, he leads into a Kingdom banquet parable by describing the ultimate host as one who is intent on filling all the empty seats. Turning to the host who invited him, Jesus said, “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:13-14 ESV) Upon hearing Jesus’ words, another guest voiced what the others may have been thinking, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15b)

Jesus then paints a verbal picture of guests who spurn their invitation with plausible excuses: “I just finished a real estate deal and I need to have it appraised…I just bought some farm equipment and need to test it out… I just got married, sorry, can’t make it.”
For those listening, and for us, it’s all too human to think it’s all about ME. My life, my family, my church, my God. (Too often in just that order) Our drive for self-advancement becomes a game of musical chairs as we fight for our own seat at a different kind of table while the music fades. Jesus’ Kingdom parable then takes a big bite out of that faulty preconceived notion of God’s Kingdom as THE Host issues compelling invitations to all the losers of the world… “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” (vs. 21)

A civil rights leader once quipped, “If there’s not a seat at the table, bring a folding chair” (Shirley Chisholm, 1924- 2005) But what if a folding chair wasn’t needed? What if a place was already set? We follow the kind of host who moves us away from playing musical chairs into a life of leaving an empty chair and setting an extra place at the table. What would this look like in your life? What would it look like in your Life Group?