“He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, ‘When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.
“‘When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
“Then he turned to the host. ‘The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.'” (Luke 14:7-14).
I’ve observed in a few Nashville churches that the “holier than thou” club has been mostly replace by the “hipper than thou” crew. There are a few telltale signs. 1) Their pastor and/or worship leader(s) wear skinny jeans. 2) The church building doesn’t look anything like a church building. 3) The worship songs are the latest and newest songs that haven’t even hit the radio yet.
To be fair, I’ve had my share of “hipper than thou” moments, as well as “holier than thou.” I’ve caught myself a few times comparing myself with others and detected more than a little pride in my pop culture knowledge and vast and educated musical tastes.
The fact is, anyone could look at me sitting in a seat at Kairos or in a church pew and rightfully ask, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.”
It’s true. I’ve done stupid things. I’ve said and typed much that I regret. I’ve had such thoughts that I truly hope I never run into a mind reader who can read my past thoughts. That would be tragic and awkward.
The fact is that in the Kingdom of Heaven, no one belongs and everyone belongs.
No one deserves to be there. I certainly don’t. Everyone has sinned and sin brings death to everyone every single time (to paraphrase my pastor Mike Glenn). The only reason anyone gets in is grace.
Because of grace, everyone can get in. The door is open. The invitations are sent. Everyone is welcome and no one who wants to get in will be left out.
In my opinion, there’s no such things as bad or good Christians. There are only sinners saved by grace. I love Thomas Merton’s definition of a saint– not someone who is good, but someone who has seen the goodness of God.
Don’t think you’re so very wise and holy that you get the best seats in the house. You’ll find yourself getting knocked down a few rungs on that old ladder. Remember Jesus, who didn’t consider anything or anyone beneath Him, but lowered himself to the position of a slave and didn’t think that death on a cross was too scandalous or too much of a sacrifice to get you and me into His kingdom.
If you’ve accepted the invitation, Just be thankful you’re in. And if you’re still undecided, remember there’s always room for one more– you.