If You Want To Go To The Banquet, Sell Your Stuff and Leave Your Family
For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet. (Luke 14:24)
There are certain words in the Bible I wish weren't there. They are a little too hard to deal with. When Jesus says we are to hate our family (Luke 14:26), I feel a lump in my stomach. I know he doesn't mean literal hate, for that is against the person and character of Christ - and it conflicts with the rest of Scripture. (Scripture interprets Scripture.) Jesus does mean to make a serious statement though, and his words are never flippant. But as I read the words of Jesus, especially in context with the preceding parable, I begin to understand.
Jesus is telling us to renounce all that we have.
Renounce your kids.
Renounce your wife.
Renounce your money.
All of it. Let it go.
Your head is spinning right now I know. Mine too. I understand what these words have shock value. And I don't want to diminish the impact, but let's drill deeper into the meaning of these words.
Here is what I believe Jesus means:
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will be my servant also. (John 12:25-26)
The things we own tend to own us. The trappings of this world are like shackles on our hearts. Jesus explains in a parable that a man had a banquet and invited a bunch of people. He prepared quite a party for these folks. But when his servant announced that the banquet was ready, one of them said he had to go check out a field he just bought. Another said he just got married. Another says he bought some oxen and needs to inspect them.
Do you see what's happening here?
This is what it looks like when we love our life and the things in it more than Jesus. We are distracted. We lose sight of the banquet offered in the Lord's hands and we instead eat trash under a bridge.
Does Jesus want us to bail on our kids and host an estate sale? Does he want us to leave our husbands and wives and tear their hearts apart?
No, he wants us to hand everything we have to him.
Everything we have, from our health to our wealth to our kids, is a gift from the hands of God. We are the stewards of his stuff and we are living on his earth and we are his children. When we hold on to our stuff too tightly, we are like toddlers with a plastic hammer.
You see, God is not about taking things from us but rather showing us the way to his unimaginable banquet. C.S. Lewis said it this way:
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. ~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Our family and children are not mud pies, of course. They are eternal beings of the highest worth. So we do not leave them to go to the banquet, but rather we show up to the banquet with them in tow. But we go to the banquet. We do not remain "busy" with temporary things.
Seek the eternal feast. There is a place prepared for you, but you must come as you are.