As I’m reading again through Luke’s gospel, I came to the section in chapter 14 where a man invited many people to his banquet. But those who were invited began making all manner of excuses why they could not come: “The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’”
The rebuffed host sent his servant to the highways and the hedges to invite to the banquet as many as he could find “so that my house may be filled.” And he then added this ominous warning: “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’” (see Luke 14:16-24)
I put the Bible down in my lap and wondered if there might be a warning in this vignette also for me. It’s this: “Don’t get so focused on the affairs of this life that you invent all kinds of excuses to avoid the King’s invitation. Don’t be so focused on this life that you grow cold to the next.”
I thought then of Revelation chapter two. After initially praising the Christians at Ephesus for their toil and their perseverance for the gospel, Jesus then warned:
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5)
And I remembered the Parable of the Sower, a portion which reads: “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:20-22)
Before His crucifixion, Jesus promised to prepare a place for all who follow Him in obedience (John 14). That is why, as difficult as life in America is becoming, I must stay attentive to His voice so as to not make excuses why I cannot attend my King’s banquet. I must remain alert to His presence so as to not be seduced into forgetting my first love.
I do not want to be like Lot’s wife.