Knowing Jesus #2: The Humble Path
It's not easy to follow Jesus in a Kesha and Kanye world. Fame is the desired destination for many people, and self-promotion is the clear path to get there. How can you find the path of Jesus in a world filled with so many other roads?
Christians are supposed to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. But too many people—even many so-called Christians—sadly know little to nothing about Jesus. They may like their own caricatures of Jesus: homie Jesus, homeboy Jesus, gangster Jesus, hipster Jesus or buddy Jesus on a dashboard bobble-head. For these folks, following Jesus amounts to little more than believing in a fairy godmother or guardian angel who wants them to be happy.
And therein lies the crux of the problem. Too many folks think Jesus is all about their personal happiness. Their fascination with Jesus is not actually about Jesus. It’s in fact a sign of self-absorption or of a desire for personal fame, glory and importance.
Clearly, these folks have not paid careful attention (if any at all) the stories of Luke 14. I'm preaching this week from Luke 14:7-14. As is often the case in Luke's gospel, Jesus is eating. He's willing to eat with anyone, but he doesn't eat for the same reasons they do. He eats with sinners and tax collectors. He eats with Pharisees, as in this chapter, even though his words condemn many of their actions.
The Jewish pattern of dining is similar to the world you live in today. For Jews, there was a natural connection between dining and honor. Inviting someone to eat with you was an honor both for guest and host. Hosts typically wanted to eat with those who could improve their social standing. Guests wanted to accept invitations from important people who could help improve their upward mobility. You invited those who could somehow return the favor. This type of hospitality was a circular way of promoting and helping yourself.
Jesus crashed this party, even though he was an invited guest. His words in Luke 14 spell out the difference between the path of his kingdom and the paths of the world. What was the goal of hospitality for Jesus? To be the most neglected guest seated at the worst spot in the room. Who should you invite? The poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind—those who are incapable of repaying you in any way whatsoever.
For Jesus, dining reveals one's true character. Too much concern for yourself breeds too little concern for anyone else. If you are self-seeking, then you are neglecting the priorities of Jesus. But if you aren’t concerned about your own advancement, then you are potentially following in the humble steps of Jesus. And that’s not easy in a Kesha and Kanye world.