Summary: Jesus was aware of discrimination or favoritism and lets His disciples know that it was not to be so when it came to the Kingdom...
Can you remember times when as a child you along with other kids in your neighborhood had to pick teams in order to play a game?
Much of the time we picked the kids for what they could bring to our team. If you were selecting players for a game of basketball, you tried to pick the best shooters or the tallest kids so that they can snatch those rebounds.
However, there were the times when those you selected were hand-picked because they were your friends. There were those who were picked for a team with the hope that when it was their turn to choose, he or she would remember you.
Jesus was aware of this kind of discrimination or favoritism and lets His disciples know in in Luke chapter 14 that it was not to be so when it came to the Kingdom:
(Luke 14:12 NKJV) Then He also said to him who invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.
(Luke 14:13 NKJV) "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.
(Luke 14:14 NKJV) "And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
When I first sensed the call of God on my life to plant a church, as we organized for this new church, we would have “planning sessions” in my home.
At our first planning meeting, one of our tasks was to come up with a list of Christians we thought would be interested in helping us to plant a church. Several people came to my mind; these were people who I observed had a love for the Lord and His Word and a desire to use their spiritual gifts.
During those years people came to our church for a variety of reasons. Some came out of curiosity; others came out of their love for Debbie and me. Still others joined us simply because they wanted to be a part of something new.
It took almost six years of ministry for God to teach me a valuable lesson. He taught me that when inviting people to attend and even to join, do not target people who are the most likely to attend church.
I believe this is one of the points Jesus is making when He says, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.
Now don't think that Jesus is absolutely prohibiting us from inviting these kinds of people. He is warning us about having the attitude of going after a certain kind of person for a "payback".
Jesus was exposing the heart-attitude of the person who would invite a rich person to his party so that when it was the rich person’s turn to throw a party he would return the favor. In other words Jesus is sounding forth a warning to the person who sends invitations only to the kind of people who can produce for them a dividend.
“When I throw my party I'm going to invite my brother so-and-so because he is a lot of laughs and what’s a party without some cutting up?”
“Let me not forget Sister Sally because likes to sing and I can get her to provide me with some entertainment for free!”
“We definitely can’t forget Uncle Sanders, when he comes he always brings enough of his Kentucky-fried chicken to feed an army!”
When it comes to the expansion of the Kingdom, I’ve also learned that the church is not to focus its resources on reaching out to those who are already Kingdom citizens.
This is one of the major problems with the church when it comes to evangelism. What many are calling “growth” is Christians withdrawing their membership from one church to join another. "Church growth" today is nothing more than moving fish from one aquarium to another aquarium.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are we going to be the kind of church that seeks to grow by enticing fish to leave their aquarium and join ours, or are we going to fulfill the Great Commission Jesus gave us to reach the lost? Are we to be "keepers of the aquarium" or "fishers of men?”
Jesus says, "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you…" Jesus is telling us that if we really want a blessing, if we really want to be doing "Kingdom work," go and invite the ones who can't repay...go and invite the ones who have nothing to give in return.