In Jesus day, honor was like currency, so you sought out places of honor at wedding feasts. You sought to gain honor by who you invited to your parties.
It’s not so different for us. We all seek the invitations to the best parties, just like we used to jockey to have a seat at the ‘cool kids’ table’ back in school. We idealize celebrities, or maybe we try to find our honor and fame by getting our name in the newspaper or an award from some organization honoring our hard work or our superior performance. And so, when we hear Jesus saying, “go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’,” our honest reaction deep inside, is: “WHAT? You can’t really be serious.”
Our fear is this: what if we humble ourselves and take the lowest place, and instead of hearing “Friend, come up to the place of honor” we hear the host whisper in our ear, “Oh, I’m so glad you recognized your rightful place”?
But Jesus’ instructions at the party show us what it looks like to really live the kingdom of God here on earth. If we could just find the courage to throw off the system, toss out our Martha Stewart Guide to the Best Parties, and instead start making out the invites according to God’s Party Guide and sitting down with the least, the lost, and the outcast, then maybe we could have God’s Kingdom Party right here on earth.
And maybe sitting beside us we’d find that very same person that we’ve failed to invite over and again to our own parties, or our study groups, or our lunch table, and here they are waiting for us. And what do you know, they even remembered to save us a seat.
Jesus is inviting all of us to be children of the light to start living differently in our homes, schools, churches, and workplaces. He’s inviting us to fashion and nurture a different kind of community. A community founded not on status, but grace; a community built on gratitude for what God has already done for us all. At God’s table there’s no need to jockey for position because everyone is equally welcome.
So, how should we fill out our guest list? Any table where Jesus is present is a table where everyone’s welcome; not just the beautiful, the wealthy and the good; but the poor, the bad and the ugly as well. It’s a foretaste of the heavenly banquet where God cares for us all equally and we can join together giving thanks for the unbelievable gift of his love for us.
So, let’s put all that jockeying for honor and position behind us so we can have the best party ever: God’s Kingdom Party right here on earth.