Formations lesson for November 23: A Table for All : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
October 30 2003 by John Norman Jr.

Formations lesson for November 23: A Table for All : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Formations lesson for November 23: A Table for All

By John Norman Jr.
Focal passage: Luke 14:7-14
Surely, we all remember the life lessons taught to us as children concerning manners at the table. Instructions which included; "Do not chew with your mouth open," and "Do not put your elbows on the table." These etiquette tips were intended to show respect to others while eating. In today's study, we find Jesus giving instructions for table fellowship in the kingdom of God.

Rules for Kingdom Guests

Luke 14:7-11

Let's face it - we all want the best seat when we attend an event. Whether it is a basketball game, movie or restaurant, we desire to sit in "the" spot. In addition, once we get the prime seat, we feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. So, isn't that the way things work in the kingdom? Not quite. In these verses, we find Jesus once again dining with others and simultaneously teaching about kingdom table etiquette.

The common thought of Jesus' day was much like our own, obtaining the best place at the table was of utmost importance. But, Jesus taught the exact opposite of this. He encouraged his followers to humble themselves and to take "any" seat rather than worrying that they have the "best" one. Jesus said a place in the kingdom is not something to be expected but received as a gift.

Rules for Kingdom Hosts

Luke 14:12-14

Jesus also used this opportunity to teach kingdom etiquette to those who host meals. Like the guests in the story who wanted only the best seats in the house, he talked about hosts who have a similar mindset with the guest list. Jesus encouraged hosts to be mindful of whom they consider to be the "best." Jesus said the ones who should be invited to share the meal are "the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind."

In Luke's Gospel, those who lived on the margin had a way of making it into the storyline. Take the birth of Christ for instance. Instead of including the wise men in the birth narrative, as in Matthew, Luke chose to include the shepherds. Some have said that in Matthew's account the "Who's Who" show up to welcome Jesus, but in Luke it is the "Who's that?" who greet him. In our scripture today, Jesus tells the hosts to send their invitations to those whom everyone else would overlook. For in so doing, they will be blessed in the resurrection.

Conclusion

As Jesus participated in this meal he taught lessons about kingdom etiquette. This included instructions for guests as well as hosts. According to Jesus, kingdom etiquette has an influence on this life as well as the life to come. The above guidelines given by Christ show us a way of living and behaving with others that honors God's desire that all would be fed physically and spiritually. But how does this translate into our daily lives? How do we apply these kingdom etiquette lessons today?

In his book, How Much is Enough? Arthur Simon (founder of Bread for the World) suggests some practical lessons for living in the kingdom in the face of poverty and hunger. Consider ten of his suggestions:

1. Begin and continue with prayer.

2. Decide on some steps, small ones at first, that allow your faith to become more active in love.

3. Deepen your devotional life.

4. Give special thought to your role in the church and its mission.

5. Give special consideration to the most vulnerable.

6. Give wisely.

7. Begin to see the world through the eyes of God.

8. Help your children from the youngest age on up to learn the joy of giving.

9. Take care of God's creation.

10. Consider Jesus your most trusted advisor. (pages 183-185)

Etiquette is important no matter at whose table we are dining. The guidelines for eating with Christ include humility in attending and hosting a meal.

In following the kingdom etiquette of Jesus, we show respect for the hungry of the world. We also become mindful of those who are not normally invited to the banquet, and humbly begin to meet their needs.

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by John Norman Jr. | with 0 comments




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