How to Get Ahead in the Kingdom

August 28, 2016

Introduction: We have been taught from an early age the importance of getting ahead through education, hard work, and diligence, and thus advancing socioeconomically in life. The question I hear asked so often, especially by politicians is will your children be better off than you are? Implied in this question are all kinds of underlying assumptions about what is important in our lives. Each generation is supposed to be "better off’ financially than the one that preceded it or the generation before is seen as a failure. The pressure is that we must continually give our children better opportunities than we had while growing up. We do not always believe this paradigm to be true. Think about how we refer to our childhood as the "good old days’ and children of today missing out on the things we took for granted. Jesus reminds us that there are somethings far more important than gaining honor for oneself and wealth at the cost of those around us.

I) Jesus is invited over for lunch. As he stands looking at the other guests struggling for the seat of honor he is moved to invite them to consider what really gives honor. He goes on to admonish his host to think about the real purpose of having a dinner.

II) All of us want to be seen as important. We want others to think well of us and be looked upon as a pillar of the community. Yet pillars can be cold, unmoving, and demand that others see them as important. Jesus reminds both the guests and host that what really matters is what people truly think of them and perhaps even more important how they care for others as they use the resources God has given them to provide for those in need.

III) What Jesus is doing is providing a glimpse into God’s kingdom where we will be placed at the seat we are deserving of and not the one we think we should receive. Jesus invites us to examine our own hearts and see if we put our own self interests ahead of the needs of those around us. As we prepare for our dinner tonight for our guests how does this coincide with the admonition from Jesus to invite those who cannot invite us back? How can we help our guests feel more at home here at St. Michael’s? As we work toward providing a way in which we in Hamilton County can reach out to those families who for whatever reason do not have a home how is this following the urging of Jesus to care for the crippled and lame become a blessing for us here at St. Michael’s? Perhaps more important still, how does this change how we think about advancing in life. Is it possible that we have been focusing on the wrong goals... things that fail to bring true satisfaction and a sense of completion in our lives. In your life what has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?