Today's Reading - Luke 14
Luke 14:15-24 profiles a man who made figurative lemonade by making the best out of an unexpected situation. His original plan was to throw a banquet and invite his friends. However, his friends declined his invitation by giving what, on examination, are lame excuses. One friend stated he wanted to see the field he just bought for the first time. Someone in that era, who more than likely needed the field to make a living, would not purchase a field sight unseen. One would have to check that the field receives adequate sunlight and rain water, has fertile soil, and is not located in an area that floods easily before committing to it. The man’s not examining the field before purchasing it is the modern-day equivalent of buying a house without seeing it first. One takes a tour of a house and asks the realtor and/or homeowner questions to learn more about topics such as the house itself, the neighborhood, and the public schools in order to make an informed decision. Another excuse given to the banquet host was that the invited guest had to try out the oxen he purchased. Along the same lines as buying a field one has not inspected, a person would not buy animals needed for one’s livelihood without testing them out first, nor would someone today buy a car before giving it a test drive.
Instead of cancelling the banquet, the host brought “in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame” (v. 21). However, his intentions for this gesture do not appear to be sincere. First, he wanted to keep up appearances by showing he can fill his house with people when he hosts a banquet. Second, he wanted to ensure there was no room at the banquet if one of the initially-invited guests had a change of heart and decided to come.
Willie and Carol Fowler found themselves in a similar predicament as the banquet host, but their hearts were in the right place when they made their lemonade. Their daughter’s wedding was called off 40 days before it was to take place, and they had already paid for all the components of a reception that was to be held at a high-end venue. Instead of cancelling the gathering outright or keeping the same guest list but changing the reason for the gathering, the Fowler’s called an Atlanta charity similar in scope to Ghent Area Ministries to invite 200 homeless individuals to the gathering. The First Annual Fowler Family Celebration of Love, as the gathering came to be called, was such a success that the Fowlers hope to make it a two-day event they will hold annually with the assistance of sponsors.
In reading quotes from the Fowlers, it seems they would disagree with Jesus’ quote in verse 14 that they will be repaid only at the resurrection. They would probably classify the joy it appears they felt at being able to entertain and potentially inspire homeless individuals as a payment of sorts. The couple did not hold this event to attract media attention, although that was a byproduct of their generosity, but rather to carry through with an answered prayer. Mr. Fowler prayed to God for direction after his daughter’s wedding was called off and was led by God to invite the homeless to the event that was originally intended to be a wedding reception for his daughter.
We may never receive as many lemons at one time as the banquet host or the Fowlers, but there are several ways we can live out the concepts from the chapter discussed in this post. We can sacrifice time we would have spent with friends or checking off items on our to-do list to serve the less fortunate through one of the ministries at our church or by independently volunteering to assist a service organization. We can also step away from our schedule-centered mindset for a little, and when the situation and circumstances seem to demand it, talk to someone, not necessarily a friend, perhaps even a stranger at the table next to us at a coffee shop, who needs a listening ear. The key is that the rationale for our actions is not to pat ourselves on the back, but to give back to the One who has given so much to us, more than we deserve, without any expectation of receiving anything in return.
If you encountered the same situation as the banquet host or the Fowlers, how would you respond?
What do we do when faced with a difficult decision?
What will a society built on verses 12-14 look like?
Ok, put down the Bible and go do it!
by Jennifer Giblin