Reading: Luke 14:1 and 7-14
Too often we help another person because we foresee repayment. I’ll come help you move because I know we’re moving in a couple months. I’ll come help you brand cattle because, well, I own cattle and they’ll need to be branded soon. I’ll buy a car from you because when you are ready to buy that boat, I know you’ll come to me. I’ll help you with your event at church because I know the event I lead is just around the corner.
In today’s passage Jesus is saying ‘no’ to think kind of thinking. It was all too common (and still is today) to think ‘What’s in it for me?’ instead of simply being a good neighbor or following where the Holy Spirit is leading. When we do things with these attitudes and are only willing to spend time with those just like us, God’s kingdom does not grow very much. When we rub elbows only with people just like us, then we are keeping the circle small and the walls high.
Jesus came to reverse this. He ate with the sinners, healed the outcast and poor, talked with the tax collectors, and worked on the Sabbath. Jesus acknowledges that if we invite only our friends, yes, they will repay us. He also says that then our reward will be done. Instead, Jesus says to invite the poor, lame, crippled, and blind. They cannot repay us but God’s reward will be there in heaven for us. This is wonderful. But we are also rewarded here on esrth.
When we serve and live life alongsidethe poor, lame, crippled, blind, and other social outcasts if our day, then we experience true giving. It is giving without strings attached. It is pure and free and feels so good. We also experience true gratitude. We do so within ourselves when we realize how blessed we are. We experience it in the thankful and grateful hearts of those we come alongside. Loving those on the margins and the outcasts aligns us with God’s ways and purposes. It is here that we are closest to God. It is here we are truly blessed.