Receiving an invite to a wedding for a friend of my wife is the worst party invitation I can receive. There are few things I enjoy less than being at a party where I don’t know anyone and am forced to make small talk. Not only do I know no one at my wife’s friend’s wedding, but my wife knows everyone, meaning there are ample opportunities for her to go talk to an old friend and leave me having to make small talk with her old lab partner’s fiance, a man I will never meet again. I would instead be having a root canal with a faulty sedative than being stuck at a place with a bunch of people I’ve never met, having to make small talk. Small talk is the worst. So, any time we receive such an invitation, it is tempting for me to begin listing excuses of why I can’t join her.
“Oh, it’s four hours away. That’ll be awkward with the kids’ nap schedules.”
“Man, this big presentation just came up that I have to finish by Monday. I’m going to stay home to work.”
“Hmm, I think my throat is getting sore. Might have COVID. Guess I better stay home.”
Now, to be clear, I have never actually tried one of these excuses. If I’m being honest, deep down, I know that I need to go because it is essential to my wife, and believe these excuses are selfish and childish. However, it is these types of lame excuses that we see Christ mention in Luke 14 when he tells the parable of the great banquet. A man throws a lavish party and invites all his friends, but each friend seems to have an excuse ready at hand to throw at the invitation.
“I just bought some land.”
“I just bought some oxen.”
“I just got a wife.”
Not one friend seems willing or wants to go to this banquet, so they send an excuse they have. This might seem silly to us. Why would you want to miss out on an amazing feast with all your friends? Yet, as Christians we are also tempted to give the same excuses to Christ.
Christ has invited each of us into his banquet, to share in his glory and blessings of his Father; however, that also means sharing in his work. Part of that work is extending the invitation of Christ’s banquet to those who we would not normally go to a party with. Earlier in Luke 14, Christ says that when his followers give a feast, they should invite people who society has cast aside, the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. They should invite people who do not get invited to parties and will not be entertaining guests. They should throw parties that are awkward and are filled with awkward silences because these guests do not have enough experience with social graces. The small talk would be unbearable. These are the parties Christ invites us to be a part of, and they are uncomfortable.
So, we try to make excuses why we can’t show up.
“My child has a travel tournament.”
“My family needs the overtime pay.”
“I need to focus on myself before I can focus on others.”
We all are tempted to give excuses to why we can’t attend the work Christ has called us to do, but Christ warns us that we will get no second invite. There is no RSVP at a later date option to this banquet Christ calls us to; we are either coming or not. So as I reflect on this parable, I ask myself, “What reasons am I giving to stay away from the uncomfortable call of being a Christian?”
As school starts back this week, there will be lots of busyness for many families, and many people will feel the weight of that busyness and be tempted from the work of Christ. Don’t let the cares of life drag down the call Christ has put on your life. Busyness is the easiest way for the enemy to pull me away from my work as a Christian, so I’ve found that I have to make time, whether that means getting up early, staying up late, or cutting things out of my life that are not productive. We all need to look at this passage, think about which things in our life are causing us to miss Christ’s invitation, and ask the Spirit to show us ways we can cut out the excuses and make it to the party. I know this, I may not be a big party person, but Christ’s party is something I do not want to miss, no matter how much small talk I’ll be making.