Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This message speaks to us becoming givers, rather than just takers...

This week is a big week for many families. You’ve been making plans. You’ve invited family over - or maybe you are traveling to see them. The kids will be out of school. Chances are, most of us will do pretty much the same thing. We’ll gather, cook, eat, and rest - with some football thrown in their just for fun.

I know your family like my family will pray before you eat. You will invite God to bless your meal and thank him for all that he has provided. You will invite Christ into your home to be part of the festivities... But what about those who are less fortunate? What about those who have no family? What about those who have messed up their lives? What about them?

In our passage this morning, I think we have a challenge. One of the things that I think Jesus did best was to point to the flaws in “religion.” Religion is what man attempts to try and get close to God. Religion says, “if you do things, God will love you and you will be right with him.” In Jesus day, “religion” was big business, and on almost every page of the New Testament you will find Jesus against it - against the game - arguing that instead of trying to make yourself righteous, God has to make you righteous...

Jesus favorite target were the Pharisees. A highly religious sect of leaders who believed that they cornered the market on God. They acted, dressed, and lived right... But Jesus said they were (and this is my favorite) like white washed tombs. Clean and fresh on the outside, but inside they were full of death. You see, Jesus understood that to be alive, God had to touch you on the inside - the change has to begin at the core - the outside is just surface stuff...

So, let’s read our passage - “Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” Luke 14:12-14

In Jesus day, like our day, you are careful who you invite... How many of you had someone on your thanksgiving list that did not get invited this year?

Most of us choose our guests for our benefit - and Jesus realized that. Now, we don’t say that’s what we are doing, but it still doesn’t change the truth. Most of us invite based on “what can I get out of this?”

In truth, most of us love this same way... I think that’s what Jesus was really getting at - he was trying to say - would you stop playing the game. The game won’t fulfill you - the game won’t change anyone’s life - the game only makes you look good - but it doesn’t change your inside!

Jesus says, if you only invite people that benefit you, your reward is small...

Then Jesus offers up an alternative guest list - He says, “ Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”

Lets look at his list - because I guarantee you that when Jesus threw out this list, none of them we at the meal he was at - when Jesus mentioned his list, it probably shocked everyone...

...the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind

They are needy. Once a month we serve food at the soup kitchen. One of the things I struggle with is that they constantly want more. They want their food a certain way, they want medicine, they are constantly asking for more...

They are unable to take care of themselves. In Jesus day, a person that was lame and couldn’t work had no alternative but to beg. Much has changed about the blind and lame in our society, but there is still a real barrier... Every now and again I go to the starbucks over near Chris Cole. Last week, I was there reading and a group of folks came in that were blind. They all had their instructors with them serving as guides. It was really uncomfortable. I kept fearing they were going to run into something and break something.

They are sick, and needy, and require so much energy and patience.

They aren’t who are on our guest list for Thanksgiving, right? Why? Because we are takers - not givers.

I think Jesus was pointing us towards a key concept or understanding about God. He wanted to challenge us that if we make our lives about “me” we miss it all... We miss everything!

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