Summary: Compassion, ministry, our testimony
THE GUTTER: WHERE LIFE IS MEANT TO BE LIVED.
Luke 14:15-23 (p739) June 12, 2011
I’ll always remember the old story of Charles Spurgeon being invited to speak at a large London church and on the night before the services Mr. Spurgeon and a friend were returning from dinner when they came upon a drunk passed out in the gutter. He was covered in grime and vomit and Mr. Spurgeon’s friend remarked about how disgusting and revolting it was. As Charles Spurgeon knelt down to help the man he said, “There, but by the grace of God…Go I”.
I believe those are the two reactions everyone experiences when it comes to the gutter-revulsion and compassion, and most of the time…BOTH.
The gutter isn’t clean or sanitized. It’s filled with dirty, broken, messed up people, people who have made horrible choices, people who have reached a point where they no longer care what the world thinks about their appearance, nor do they care themselves.
Craig Gross who established XXX Church, an organization that deals with individuals who struggle with pornography, also tries to bring the gospel of Christ to those engaged in that industry and wrote:
“The gutter can be described in different ways with different terms. Put simply, my gutter is not necessarily your gutter. The gutter is the place where we discover that we need God most. Some would believe the gutter is attached to a lack of money. Wrong, I have seen people with millions lying face down in the gutter. Some believe the gutter is the place with a lack of success. I have seen many gutter-dwellers who would be considered “successful” by the world’s definition. Ask them and they would tell you that their success only masked the misery of the gutter. The gutter is a place believers aren’t willing to go because they remember what life was like when they escaped from it.”
What does the gutter look like? It’s a difficult question to answer. The gutter is often defined by the vantage point from which it is seen. It’s a tough thing to peg, but for a moment let me lay out a workable definition of the gutter: The gutter is the place I am least likely or inclined to go because it is a place where people are not like me; they are not Christian.
For us to become Lambs that Roar the church must become intimately acquainted with the gutter, individually and corporately.
It’s my firm belief that individually our gutter is the place we came from that separated or separates us from Jesus. It all has to do with sin, but while my gutter WAS a place of rebellion, drugs and selfishness, your gutter might be broken relationships, sexual sin, and greediness. Your gutter can be white collar or blue collar. It can be free of vomit and dirt, but covered up with pride and arrogance.
Zaccheaus was in a treetop gutter…and the woman caught in adultery was in a gutter of shame and condemnation. One had a lot of stuff, one had very little, both needed rescuing. The Rich Young Ruler
was in a gutter of self suffering and blind Bartimus couldn’t even see the gutter, but lived in it. Both needed to see the way out of the gutter. One did, the other left blind.
In our story this morning we learn a great deal a about God’s plan for gutter dwellers and how we fit into it as lambs that roar. It starts with…
I GOD’S DESIRE TO CELEBRATE WITH THOSE HE LOVES
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who’d been invited, come, for everything is now ready.”
When you throw a party you want to share it with people you love. All the planning, all the expense goes to waste if no one shows up.
The best part of the wedding dinner isn’t the food (although my wife loves wedding cake). It’s the best man’s toast, it’s the maid of honor’s story, it’s the hugs, the well wishes. It’s sharing this time with people you want there and who want to be there. It really is all about the relationship more than the banquet.
And for whatever reason God desires that with all people. He loves the world. He loves everyone-black, white, male, female, young, old, rich, poor. He is not a respecter of people. His banquet is prepared for all.
His house is so big you cannot fill it up. His Table has enough chairs for everyone.
“Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God” The blessing doesn’t come because of the feast. The blessing comes because you eat with the King and with tons of other people who love the King and each other.