Are you feeling a little left out, standing on the outside longing to be in?
Wanting to be invited, desperately seeking the security of belonging somewhere?
It’s natural to want to be included, to want what we don’t have. We’re inundated with messages that leave us feeling out – outdated, outnumbered, and often outranked. Surprisingly, while we are longing to be in, we find Jesus in the outskirts with the outcasts. In the New Testament, Jesus lingers in the places some didn’t think He should’ve been.
But, through His scandalous grace, Jesus proves He’s all about relationship, not religion. If we look closely, we still find Him hanging with the outcasts of today.
This is where ministry and real growth begin. Let me show you what I mean.
When You’re Feeling a Little Left Out
And He said to them all, “If you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow me.”
In Luke 14, Jesus has a lot to say about True Religion.
As our society continues to beckon us towards the “in” crowd, our inner man is often left unsatisfied, longing for more. That sick feeling when we’ve sacrificed our all for the next big thing is a sure indicator of yet another failed attempt to fill a place only God can fill.
God’s Word tells us something very different about being out and it’s not like anything we’ve imagined it to be. When it comes to our character, there’s a list of “ins” to be wary of, for example, being inflexible, inflated, indifferent, indulgent, and even, in some cases, invited.
In verses 1-6, Jesus shows us how a group of legalistic, religious men are unwilling to lay down the Law in exchange for experiencing the healing power of God. Sadly, they forfeited a move of the Spirit, by following their rules so rigidly.
Inflexible people miss the impromptu “suddenlies” of the Holy Spirit.
When God shows up, it’s better to put aside our own agendas and instead experience an outbreak of the Spirit, even if it’s outside our comfort zone.
I’ve seen this happen while leading small group Bible studies where an immediate need trumps my pre-planned lesson. I can sense God wants to attend to this need now instead of later. In those moments, rather than following my own checklist or schedule, I’ve found there is a bigger blessing in being flexible to His timetable and giving Him room to move.
Lives are changed and hearts are renewed when we step out and let the Spirit move in.
Next, Jesus addresses another group that is proud and self-promoting, much like we find in our society today. In verses 7-11, Jesus says instead of being inflated, be humble and trust God with your outcome. In verses 12-14, Jesus talks about another group. His perception of this group was a complete paradigm shift for me.
I was shocked to find out sometimes, it’s better to be uninvited…
How many times have you been upset about being left out or had to console your child about being uninvited?
We’re going to see that being on the guest list may not be such an honor. Being invited has its drawbacks; there’s often an unwritten obligation of repayment. The expectation is that next time, the party is at your house and you get to foot the bill.
Instead, Jesus teaches when we are the host, we should invite those who cannot return the favor. In essence, we give, just to give; we don’t give to get. That’s God’s economy. God says outreach results in an eternal reward that will outlast any rewards in the here and now. The bonus, the blessing, God shows up. We get to see Him in action when we invite the outcasts.
Jesus Teaches us How to Respond
Jesus continues to show us a group of people who are apathetic and noncommittal. Their yes, is not a yes. (Matt 5:37) Indeed, they are what my husband calls “opportunist.” This group changed their minds when something better came along.
They were indifferent to The Lord’s call to come to the banquet table, the wedding feast in Revelation 19. Though invited, they’ll miss out on the outpouring of His blessings and favor because they live thinking, “It’s All About Me!” We definitely don’t want to find ourselves in this group.
For none of the invited shall taste my dinner.
Luke 14:24 (NASB)
Let me tell you, not one of those originally invited is going to get so much as a bite at my dinner party.
Luke 14:24 (MSG)
Finally, at the end of this chapter, we find Jesus teaching about discipleship, specifically, about the cost of discipleship.
There’s a high price to pay when we decide to take up our cross and follow after Him. In order to be His disciple, Jesus teaches we have to give up everything. The idea here is that God becomes first and our devotion to our family and our things take second place.
In our commitment to Jesus, we cannot be an indulgent people, wanting our own way. We have to surrender our will for His, requiring us to look outwardly, away from ourselves.
Jesus extended grace and mercy where most wouldn’t dare to be seen. He went out among the people. He sat with the sinners, ate at their tables, touched the leprous, stood by the woman caught in adultery, and healed on the Sabbath. His ministry was absolutely scandalous.There’s a high price to pay when we decide to take up our cross and follow after Him. Click To Tweet
Do we really want to love like Jesus did?
If yes, then, being more like Jesus means living life in outrageous love, leaving the comfort of being in and learning to love being on the outside. We might even be a little uncomfortable because we can’t stay inside our comfort zones ministering only to those who already know Him.
As much as we want to be in, the Lord says it’s in the outs where we will find Him. He hung out with the misfits in the outskirts of town. He shunned the popular elite and took on the burdens of the downcast and the poor. If we will allow an outcry for His presence to reverberate within our heart of hearts, He will not leave us wanting. If we’ll surrender our lives, our hearts, our dreams, and desires to Him, He will meet us out there.
Next time you’re feeling left out, longing to be in, remember, Jesus remains in the outskirts. We’re in good company there.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers up the outcasts and brings them home.
He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.
© Amy Elaine Martinez and AmyElaine.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy Elaine Martinez and AmyElaine.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.