What keeps you from enjoying the lavish favor of God?
I’m not talking about what keeps you from going to church every week or obeying the 10 commandments. I’m talking about the freedom to completely bask in the wonder of God’s love, favor, and blessings for you.
Maybe you have your reasons.
Maybe there’s a love bigger than your reasons.
For perspective, we join Jesus while He is at a dinner party with some overly self-righteous folks. They have invited Jesus to the feast to somehow disprove all that He says He is. They have a hard time with Him being the fullness of God’s favor. They don’t believe favor can just be given to people – especially those who aren’t trying as hard as they are. They have their excuses for not believing in Him as the favor of God.
As a quietness falls over the room, Jesus tells a story about a man who prepared a very large and elaborate feast. When the meal was complete and all things were ready, he sent his servant out to invite a very specific group. As the servant came in contact with them a strange thing happened. They all began to make excuses for why they could not come to the feast!
One said he had bought a field and had to go inspect it.
One said he had brought 5 yoke of oxen and he had to go test them.
One said he had just been married.
There were no requirements to come to the feast. There were no conditions. The group was simply invited to come, sit at the table, and enjoy the lavish feast prepared by the man.
It would seem that each of people would appreciate and enjoy a lavish feast!
If you had just bought a field, you could benefit from a free lavish feast.
If you had just bought 5 yoke of oxen, you could benefit from a free lavish feast.
If you had just gotten married, you and your wife could benefit from a free lavish feast.
Yet each of those invited had an excuse for not attending. Their excuses have one thing in common. They all in affect were saying, “I have something else I must do first.”
So it was with the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. They could not accept the lavish feast that was found for them in Jesus. There in front of them was the fullness of God’s love, acceptance, forgiveness, and righteousness. There were invited to freely receive Him as a lavish feast. Yet they, like the ones in the story had excuses.
“First we have to…”
Before we can enjoy the Kingdom, sit down at the table of God, enjoy the favor of God, we have to first:
Know the law.
Keep the law.
The invitation and feast was before them. Their excuses and refusal to believe in the feast of Jesus would not allow them to come to the table.
Before we look down with a condescending glance at these law-keepers, let us be aware of ways that we make excuses. The radical nature of grace by faith says that we too have been invited to the feast of favor at the Father’s right hand. He invites us to come by faith and to set aside our own attempts at thinking we have things we have to do first. At His table is the lavish meal of complete forgiveness, unending love, full acceptance, deep intimacy, and perfect righteousness. Do you accept the invitation to come to the table or do you find yourself thinking there are things you have to do first?
Do you think you first have to…
- Remind yourself of all the ways you don’t measure up.
- Punish yourself for your past failures (self-insults, harsh self-discipline, cutting, drunkenness, overeating, not eating, damaging habits, forced involvement in church activities, forced involvement in spiritual activities, etc.)
- Make sure you are disciplined enough.
- Clean up your act.
- Do enough good things.
- Make yourself worthy of being loved.
These are just some of the ways that we refuse to accept the invitation to the lavish meal until we have first fulfilled our responsibilities – our part.
The wonder of God’s love is that He loves sinners. He loves us while we are still resisting Him. He loves like this so that we will know there is nothing that has to be done first before we can know His favor. He has fulfilled the responsibilities. He has made all of the preparations. He has made the meal. All things are now ready!
Our part is to accept the invitation.
Not just once.
Accept the invitation every day; every time we fail; every time we sin; every time we drift.
There is nothing that you first must do.
All things are now ready.
For related stories, check out:
Compelled to a Feast – audio message
Can Your Gospel Do This? – blog
Grace is Not Overlooking Sin – blog