Excused from Heaven - May 2017

 

“Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then He said to him, ‘A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, “Come, for all things are now ready.” But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’And another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’Still another said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’And the servant said, “Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” (Luke 14:15–24)

    When we think of people who will not be heaven, we usually think of evil angels like Lucifer or wicked despots like Hitler. Those people “deserve” to not make it to heaven we say. They have earned it. I am obviously not as bad as they are so I should be fine, right? Into this comforting train of thought, Jesus drops a bomb shell! He does not drop it through an angry tirade, or through cutting rhetoric, rather he drops it through a story of everyone’s favorite event, thanksgiving dinner. I do not mean an American thanksgiving dinner; it is the dinner to end all dinners. But the bomb detonates right on top of our American dream. In this story the people who are invited to the dinner (read here Kingdom of Heaven) do not attend. It is not because they hate the Master of the supper, in fact they are receiving invitations from Him which implies that they are His friends. 

    They will not miss out on the Kingdom of God because they were not invited. It is not because they love to get drunk or are high on meth. Rather they will miss out because they are too busy with the cares of this life to attend to the Master’s invitation to the next one. One says “I have property I have to take care of.” Another, “I have animals to feed.” A final man has the best excuse of all “I have a wife to make happy.”    They are all very legitimate reasons for not attending a party. There is just one problem, they are not saying no to just any party with their busy schedules, they are saying no to heaven itself. 

    Jesus’ parable brings home the sobering realization that the main reason that I may not get to heaven is that I have no time for it. Jesus’ question rings in my ears “what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and loses his soul?” Matthew 16:26. I may live a “good” life and be a responsible husband, father, employee, citizen, etc. but if those things have replaced God in my heart then I have in effect excused myself from heaven. This month I challenge you to ask yourself the question, “Have I been allowing the important things in my life to push out the most important?” If the answer to that is yes…is that your final answer?