Summary: This study considers the command to go into the highways and hedges and compel people to God.
Have you ever heard or used the phrase “beat the bushes?” Beat the bushes refers to searching diligently for someone or something. The word etymology is based on the hunting practice of having someone hit bushes with a stick in order to force birds to fly up into the air to be shot. We have stretched that word to apply to many areas. We refer to salesman “beating the bushes.” We refer to politicians “beating the bushes.”
In church work, when we solicit followers for Jesus Christ we refer to it as “beating the bushes.” Are you beating the bushes for God? We are commanded to do so. For a text I want to look with you at Luke 14:23-24. "Then the master said to the servant, `Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” This text has much to say about our service to Jesus Christ. It helps us understand what it means for a believer to beat the bushes. I want to dissect this verse and gain and understanding of its teachings by examining it one phrase at a time.
1. The first phrase I want to examine is the phrase “the master said to the servant.” This phrase describes our relationship with God and our role in His service.
The concept of being a servant is not an appealing thought. Imagine a group of children standing around talking about what they want to be when they grow up. They will mention doctors, lawyers, teachers, firemen, or professional athletes as role models but they will not mention being a servant.
This phrase implies our position under God. We live under His sovereignty. Our role is that of a servant serving a master.
Our purpose in life is to serve God and bring glory to His name. That means we must be willing to submit to His call to service.
Prayer skit adapted from something that was heard on Christian radio:
Jennifer says --- Ryan, I am going to spend some time in prayer. Please don’t disturb me. (goes across the room and kneels in prayer) “Oh Lord, I am your servant. I want to do your will no matter what it is.”
(Ryan pokes his head in the room) Excuse me, the teacher called and wants to know if you will chaperone at the Ithchus music festival this year? Jennifer --- you know I don’t like living outdoors, That is just not my kind of thing. Tell her no.
Jennifer --- (back to praying) Dear Jesus, You are wonderful and your mercy endures forever. I love you with all of my heart and desire to serve you no matter what it is.
(Ryan pokes his head in the room) Excuse me again, Pastor Jerry called and wants to know if you will help with the Food Pantry ministry? Jennifer --- Tell him no. I don’t like being around that kind of people.
Jennifer --- (back to praying) Heavenly Father, I thank you for the salvation you have given me. I am so appreciative for it --- I want to do some great thing to pay you back. What is it you would have me do? Whatever it is I will do it! (Ryan pokes his head in the room) Excuse me, the nursery coordinator called and wants you to work in the nursery on Sunday.
Jennifer says “No, the nursery children will wrinkle my dress.” Jennifer back to prayer. Lord I don’t understand why you don’t reveal to me what it is you want me to do.
(Adapted from Jerry Smith’s contribution to Sermon Central)
2. The second phrase I want to examine is the phrase “go out.”
Many times churches get this reversed. We focus on getting people to come to the church.
Jesus commanded us to go.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Mt. 28:19
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mk. 16:15
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Ps. 126:6
And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. Mk. 1:38
This is not to discount the value of inviting people to church and to church events. However, we should see events as a tool. The ultimate responsibility is for us to go and share the good news.
3. A third phrase I want you to see is the phrase “the highways and hedges.” This refers to our focus.
We are to go to the unlikely places.