Monday, July 7, 2014

Where the Seats Have No Name

Brooklyn Museum NOV2011 Chicago The Dinn by Mark B. Schlemmer, on Flickr

There is something about being human that makes us want more. We want more stuff, more friends, more money, more in life. There is a yearning deep within us that claws at the walls of our souls, digging millimetre by millimetre attempting to break free. It seeks some sense of satisfaction in the great abyss of more.

We see the disciples succumbing to its siren calls in Matthew 18 when they come to Jesus asking which of them are the favourite. Who will get to sit on the other side of God? Who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God.

Little children, jostling for their afternoon snack.

The Pharisees were notorious for their political manoeuvring. Always attempting to gain greater status, jockey for more power and more platform for their own brand of theology. They would throw dinner parties, inviting one another, offering barbs and encouragements based off of where you were seated in comparison to the other guests.

It was petty, and Jesus knew it.

You see, while we are busy elbowing one another for a better spot, settling into our sprinters blocks and waiting for the sound of the gun, God is already at the finish line wondering what we are fighting over. It is not about our own sense of power of accomplishment. Nor is it about how many things we can accumulate while we are here on this earth, as God makes so clear here, here and here.

In Luke 14, Jesus picks a fight with the Pharisees, telling a parable about these exact situations. A feast was prepared, and the guests invited. When the day arrived, each waited eagerly outside the door for their chance to earn their spot at the table. The person hosting, you see, was a very powerful person, and everyone wanted to sit right next to them. As the doors opened, people rushed to their seats in the order that they thought they stood with the host.

They were wrong.

When the host entered, they began to rearrange the table as they saw fit, embarrassing some and lifting others higher. Yet they left the seat of honour alone until the very end, when a smelly, unkempt beggar shambled into the room. The host saw this beggar enter, and immediately moved to take his arm and walk down the table -- past the rich, the popular, the powerful. The host escorted the new guest right to the head of the table, and looking upon the individual who thought they were owed the guest of honour seat, asked them to vacate it for this beggar.

The first shall be last.

Our pride gets in the way, demanding what we are owed. We have put in our time, done our duty -- all without complaint. How dare God give us less than what we believe we were owed.

Because that is the attitude that will get you into heaven.

God is throwing a party, but there are no placards to tell you where to sit. We only have the teachings of Jesus to guide us. He went to the sick, the lame, the downtrodden and the lonely. He went to those who could offer him nothing in return, and asked them if they wanted a great seat.

Do we live our lives like this? Are we selfless, or has selfishness crept into your day to day life? Are you busy staring at what your neighbours have, neglecting a roof over your own head?

Remember, Jesus taught that each of us should presume to be that beggar, thankful to be there. An attitude of humility leads to the most unexpected of situations.

No comments :

Post a Comment