Triumph in Christ – Reaching the Troubled and Hurting - Thursday, February 28th

Triumph in Christ – Reaching the Troubled and Hurting - Thursday, February 28th

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart …. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:1, 5-7

But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’” Luke 14:16-24

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

Make no mistake about it, Christian faith is a bold faith. Nothing about the Christian faith is timid. But for so many of us as Christians in today’s world, we know much more of timidity than boldness when it comes to our faith. Today’s Scripture provides us with significant help for seeing a reversal come about in our lives so that going forward we will experience a boldness in our faith that will powerfully impact the people and situations in our lives.

Every Christian is a minister of the Good News of redemption through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul understood the toll associated with being a minister of the Gospel. He speaks of the mercy received from God so that “we do not loose heart.” “Losing heart” may describe us because the idea of being a minister of the Gospel overwhelms us so that we are completely stymied. Or “losing heart” may describe us because our efforts to impact our world have worn us out. Either way, the result is that timidity is more prevalent than boldness. We can receive a special mercy from God that will revive our hearts for all that he has called us to and verses 5-7 above can be instrumental in bringing this about for us.

The Apostle Paul says, “we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord.” It is not about what happens to us but about sharing Christ with others. It is “for Jesus’ sake” not ours. God “has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” We do not shine the light of the Gospel on others. God shines the light of Christ into our hearts and from our face to face experience with Christ he shines out of us to impact the people and situations of our lives. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” What a treasure it is to have Christ filling us with his presence and light. What a privilege it is to be vessels from which Christ and his light shines forth. All of this is “so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”

We want to bring our story from Luke 14 into the picture and couple some thoughts about today’s highlighted portion with our understandings from our 2 Corinthians passage. But first let’s review some of what we have already said about the story. Jesus shared the story over a meal at a leader of the Pharisee’s home. Jesus was speaking to a group of Pharisees who were far from being positive in their response to Christ. Our story is simply about a man inviting people to a banquet and how people respond to his invitation. The story is illustrative to how people respond to the invitation of Jesus to become his followers. Ultimately true followers of Christ will join him at the banqueting table of the redeemed in his eternal kingdom where they will celebrate the redemptive triumph of Christ. While we equate the man who “invites” with Christ, we equate the slave who “calls people to respond” with those who are already Christ followers. We equate those who “make excuses” with the Pharisees and all those who cling to the religious system of the day.

This brings us to an additional group of people who are invited to the banquet because of all those who had made excuses and declined their invitations. After reporting to his master about all those who declined to come to the banquet, the slave is instructed to go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring the poor and crippled and blind and lame. It seems that the troubled and hurting people of the world are the ones who are most receptive and responsive to the invitation to come. This is an indictment against the Pharisees that Jesus is speaking to and all who cling to the religious system they espouse – a religious system that despises the very outcasts this story of Jesus says respond to the invitation and come.

Look at the following words from John 1:9-13 and notice how well they capture what Jesus was dealing with in the telling of his story: “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Remember that as Christ followers we are commissioned, like the slave, to call people to respond to the invitation to come to our Master, Jesus Christ and become his followers who ultimately will join him at the banqueting table of the redeemed in his eternal kingdom where they will celebrate the redemptive triumph of Christ. And remember, it will always be the troubled and hurting people who will be most receptive and responsive to the invitation to come. In the words of our 2 Corinthian passage, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart.”

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, revive my heart and wrap me up in a full awareness of what it really means to be a minister of the Gospel. Wrap me up in your light and your presence. May you readily shine forth from my life in powerful ways. Keep me centered on the truth that it is all about you and those who need your light and not me. Guard me from losing heart, Lord. Help me to reach out with great love and care to the troubled and hurting people of this world. Amen!

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