TODAY’S READING: Luke 14–15
The non-missionary Christian is very generous, but unfortunately to the wrong people, or better said, unfortunately not to the right people. Jesus was often criticized for dining with untouchables; rather, He was expected to wine and dine the influential. He used these misunderstandings to underline that the heart of Father God is oriented towards those outside His house. Jesus bluntly said that we should not lavish generosity and hospitality on family and friends, but on those who cannot repay us (Luke 14:12–13). We always try to soften the sledgehammer blows of Jesus’ truth. Even reading that sentence you probably blanched. But Jesus went further and said that if we don’t hate our family, take up our cross, and follow Him, we can’t be His disciple (vv. 25–27).
Jesus’ time in ministry was a great disappointment to His family. He never acted as they wanted Him to act. He never lavished on them the attention they craved. He never stayed with them when they needed Him most. He was not generous towards them with His time or His words as society demanded. Jesus was not mean, rude, or stingy with His family; He was and is just more focused on those outside the house than those in it (as His Father is). This prioritization of the lost in the heart of the Father is unsettling to the found (ask the older son in 15:28), but it can be reconciled if we understand timing. The prioritization of the lost over family, the “hating” of family is simply a recognition of eternity. Those of the household of faith will have forever with Jesus; all that He has is ours. But in this fleeting moment, we are in the last few seconds of time and billions will perish without Him. Jesus loves His family dearly, and He knows that in the blink of the eye, we will joy together forever. So, His passionate focus is not that enduring reality but last-minute rescue and adoption. He wants us to have that same passion and drive.
The real problem these texts point out is not the words and action of Jesus which call us to bless those who cannot repay and to turn our energy away from family and found. The real problem is the incredible selfishness we have swathed in the concealing clothes we call family stewardship. How inward are we if we demand all the attention of heaven while all hell breaks loose around us? All Jesus asks that we get up from our cozy tables, launch ourselves from our La-Z-Boys, and propel ourselves into frenzied action with Him, the action of invitation to our family meal. Think of it this way: Jesus has prepared a feast for all He loves and He is doing one last passionate dash around the neighborhood of earth, frantically looking for any people group that is hungry and alone. His whole purpose is to revel with us forever. Can we begrudge this last lap of invitation? Can we resent that His focus is momentarily on others? Should we not rather leave our own mothers and fathers, our own beloved sons, and run with Jesus to the 2.6 million Pashtun of Afghanistan? Is not the problem with us, when we get jealous that Jesus insists that the lost must be found and His house must be filled?