“But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:10-11
This scripture comes out of a parable by Jesus about a wedding feast and how one should attend themselves. How many of us know the people who always put themselves towards the front of the line? Who immediately assume they are to be first because of some innate sense of superiority? This is an interesting point for me in Jesus’ ministry, because this familiar situation is not what we are called to do. The parable talks of someone grabbing the seat of honor and then being asked to move, but Jesus tells to act in a counter-cultural way.
Jesus tells us that when we enter we should take the lowest seat, so that we may be asked to move up to a more honorable place. This is not so that we will necessarily placed above others, but that we should be shameless self-promoters. We all want to be honored, but Jesus tells us to take the place of the lowly so that through our humility we may be lifted high. This theme runs throughout Jesus’ ministry, he tells us if we want to be first we must be last. Jesus also tells us that to be the leader we must be the servant, this is the basis of our ideas of social justice in the church.
How do we deal with a world that tells us we are constantly entitled to the next step up the ladder? We are bombarded daily, even sometimes minute by minute, with living the “good life” the bigger house, the nicer car, the right pair of tennis shoes. Our striving to “keep up with the Joneses” has derailed some churches, and many more people’s individual faith. How do we live with humility? How do we really and truly follow the example of Jesus in our materialistic and greedy culture? How do we curb in ourselves the striving for stuff, money, or power? That is the question I am struggling with today, “how do I (Thomas Hodges) live an authentic life and engage in authentic and life changing ministry?” How do you?