Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. 2 Peter 3.9, the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We sit around talking about finding God's will for our lives.
It's not lost. God intends to use you to bring other people to Jesus. You don't need a call, a special mystical call. You have the call.
The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. You don't need a voice, we say, because you've got a verse. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Let's start the program a little more introspectively today, shall we? Do you ever wonder sometimes if anything about your life really matters?
Like, am I making any sort of real difference in the world? Today, Pastor J.D. Greer continues our teaching series called Come to the Table, where we'll see how Jesus used the occasion of a banquet, a party, to teach people about his kingdom and our significant role in it.
If you missed the beginning of this new teaching series, you can catch up online at jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D. has titled today's message, There's room at my table for you. So grab your Bible and let's jump in. Luke 14, if you have your Bible this weekend, and I hope that you do, if you will open it to Luke 14, we are in Luke 14 in our second week in a series that we are calling Come to the Table, in which we are seeing how Jesus used the occasion of a banquet, a meal, a party, to teach people about his kingdom.
Here is something that many of you will be excited to know that you may not know. Meals were central to the life and the ministry of Jesus, especially in Luke's Gospel. One scholar points out that I was looking at that at just about every point in Luke's Gospel, Jesus is either coming from a meal, he's at a meal, or he is going to a meal. Now, that's a Savior worth following in my book, amen? You can literally, this scholar says, eat your way through Luke's Gospel, so much so that Jesus's critics label him a drunkard and a glutton.
This is an area of Christ-likeness I have already mastered, I am very proud to say. I say, Lord, make me more like you, and then I order that extra side of cheese fries, just like I think Jesus would do. What would Jesus do?
That might be what he would do. By the way, I should also point out, my conscience compels me, that he seems to have gotten in an extraordinary number of steps every day as well, and always walking everywhere. In fact, when his disciples take a boat across, he chooses just to walk across the water, because his step count was low for the day. So, master both sides of this equation if you're going to do it. And you're like, you are the worst Bible interpreter ever, I get it.
But anyway, take it for what it's worth. Last week, we saw how Jesus had invited us to the party of his kingdom, and we looked at what keeps people from receiving that invitation. Well, today we're going to see how he uses us to extend that invitation to the banquet, to others, just like he extended it to us.
Let me remind you of where we left off last week. These were the verses that we closed on. Luke 14, verse 25. Now, great crowds accompanied him, and he turned to them and said, this is kind of anti-church growth methodology. He says something very difficult.
He says, hey, I'm glad all you guys are interested in me. I'm glad you like my teaching, but if any of you really wants to come to me, and you don't hate your own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even your own life, you can't really be my disciple. And last weekend, we talked about how tough a statement that was. It means that compared to our loyalty and our commitment to Jesus, every other relationship in our lives, every other one, even our most intimate relationships, like our family or our friends or our dreams for our life, all of those relationships, even though they're great, they should all look like hate in comparison to how committed we are to Jesus. I ask you to consider this. Can you honestly say that compared to your commitment to Jesus, that your commitment to your family, to your friends, to your desires for your life, that compared to how dedicated you are to Jesus, that your dedication to those things looks like hate? Well, today, Jesus is going to give us a picture of what this looks like in action.
Now, let me give you a warning here. Today is going to be difficult for some of you, for many of us, because it's going to challenge you and I at some pretty fundamental levels. It's going to challenge you to rethink for some of you your whole approach toward life. Yet Jesus's message today also has, I believe, the power to set you free onto a journey, which is going to bring so much more joy and so much more purpose into your life than what you're currently experiencing.
I mean, let me just ask you to consider this. Do you ever wonder sometimes, do you ever just find yourself wondering if anything about your life actually matters? As in, are you going to have any kind of lasting significance beyond your death, or does it have any eternal significance?
Or let me ask, are you tired of feeling like you just get up every day and you go to work and you try to make ends meet and you watch a little TV and try to distract yourself with some hobbies and then look forward to vacation next year and then just rinse and repeat and go through that process year by year? You see, God created you, all of you. He created all of us to crave eternal significance.
That's not some kind of pipe dream that belongs to middle schoolers, dreary-eyed middle schoolers. That is something God put in the heart of every human being. He put eternity in our hearts. We long to long for something. And that is a desire he put there. And what Jesus is going to show you today is how you can have that kind of eternal significance.
And here's the thing, it's going to surprise you what he says. Living for eternal significance, living in a way that has eternal significance may not look like you expect. And what Jesus teaches here might surprise you because it's a lot less glamorous.
And a lot more rewarding than you might anticipate. Luke 14, verse 12, again, the context. Jesus was at a rich dude's party. And at some point, Jesus looks around and he notices that the guy throwing the party has only invited other rich popular people to be at the party with him.
Now, of course, Jesus was not himself rich, but he was pretty well known. And he could, of course, do some killer party tricks. So he usually got invited. Hey, Jesus, we're out of Chex Mix, bam.
He multiplies it, so there's 12 baskets left over of Chex Mix. So he always got invited to these parties. Verse 12, but he said to the man who had invited him, when you give a dinner or you give a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, you should invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. And then you will be blessed because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
Now, I have to imagine this was a tad bit awkward. I mean, he looks around and he says, hey, when you have a party, don't invite these people right here. The only reason you're inviting these people is because you hope that maybe they'll invite you back to their parties.
Instead, you should invite people who really have nothing that you're interested in, who can't invite you to their parties because they don't really even own houses. Y'all, what Jesus was telling them here would have been, in those days, economic suicide. Because parties in those days were the places that business took place. It's where really important relationships were formed. It's where networking happened. It's where deals were done. So inviting rich, influential people into your party was a pretty shrewd economic decision. Because then they would feel obligated to invite you back to theirs, where you could get to know all of their rich friends and their network, and you could do business with their network. So for you to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind meant that you were choosing to spend your resources on those who could not pay you back and couldn't really add any financial benefit into your life. Now, when you think about it, things have not changed that much in business today, of course.
Right? Things haven't changed that much. In fact, think of it as a philosophy of life that many people go through life with. Just like I'm going to invest my life in those things that can, in return, add value to my life. But if you remember what we saw last week, Jesus explained that when he invited people to his party, remember this? He didn't just invite people who could add value to his life. No, Jesus chose, when he compelled people to come to his kingdom, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, the street people, the highway people, the hedge people, in a word, us. He invited us. And thank God that he did that because if he hadn't done that, then we would be excluded from his eternal party.
And that should fundamentally reorient, he says, how you approach the party of your life. So there are two questions I want us to consider from this parable. One is metaphorical and one is very literal. Here's the metaphorical one.
If your life, okay, metaphor. If your life were depicted as a party, who would be the invited guest to your party? Imagine that we chose to depict your whole life, we chose to depict it in terms of a party, a metaphor of a party. If so, who would you be throwing that party for? Is your life a series of calculated relationships and decisions that you think will one day return value to your life? Is it a party, in other words, that you are throwing for you? Or is your party something you are throwing for those who cannot necessarily pay you back?
You see, following Jesus means that you look at your life, your talents, your resources, as resources given to you to bless people who can't necessarily pay you back, at least in this life. Let me apply this for a few minutes to how you think about your career. Later in the message, I'll talk about it more in terms of your personal life, but for now let's just think in terms of your career. For whose benefit do you primarily see your talents and your career? If we thought of your career like a big party that you were throwing, who is that party really being thrown for? Let me give you four questions you can ask about your job to help you get at this.
I'll have as ABCD. A, do you look at your job primarily as a way of serving others or as a way of enriching yourself? This is something I think we haven't taught enough about in the church, but God gave us our talents and our careers primarily as a way to serve and bless others. There's nothing wrong with getting financial benefit from it, but at its core, our talents and our careers are instruments by which God blesses others. One of the primary ways that God blesses his creation and cares for his creation is through the skills that he gives to people. I've explained that God created the world in an unformed fashion. He said it was good, but then he gave Adam and Eve and all humanity since then skills to develop the earth.
Martin Luther, the German reformer in the 16th century explained it like this. When we pray the Lord's prayer, we ask God to give us our daily bread, right? Lord, give us this day our daily bread. How does God usually do this? He does it by usually by means of the farmer who planted and harvested the grain. He does it by means of the baker who made the flour into bread and the person who prepared our meal. We might add to that in our day, the truck drivers who hauled the produce, the factory workers and the food processing plant, the warehouse workers, the wholesale distributors, the stock boys, the lady at the checkout counter.
Also playing their part are bankers, development investors, advertisers, lawyers, agricultural scientists, mechanical engineers, government officials, and any other active player in our nation's economic system. Every single one of those people was instrumental in enabling you to eat your morning everything bagel, right? Now, God could have chosen to answer that prayer directly, miraculously, like he did the manna.
He could just wake up in the morning and bam, there it is. He leaves it on the ground the way that God provided manna for the children of Israel. But typically, right, God chooses to provide us our morning bagel through the skills and careers of other human beings who, Gene V. says, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other. The point is, whatever your job is, you ought to see it as a gifting by God to meet the needs of others. And we should see our jobs as gifts by God given to us to bless others.
It's how God cares for his creation. You say, well, wait a minute, I'm just a stay-at-home mom. Well, your job might be the most important out of all of them.
Raising godly kids to serve the world is the most important job, I would say, that I could think of in the world. I know a pastor's wife who graduated from a top college, and she said she got sick of hearing her friends ask her, you know, what are you doing now? Because she went to such a good school. And when she would say, well, I'm a stay-at-home mom, you know, stay-at-home mom, I'm raising our kids.
The disappointment that always had this vibe of like disapproval that came back her way. So finally, she said, I just learned to start saying when they asked me, you know, what do you do now? She says, quote, I'm socializing four homo sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments of transformation for the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia that God willed from the beginning of creation. What do you do, right? The point is, whatever task God has assigned you to do, you should see it as a gifting by God to serve others.
Now, again, that doesn't mean you all don't also make a profit from it. Just that first and foremost, it's an instrument that God uses to bless others. The architect helps provide beautiful, safe buildings for people to live in. The lawyer helps craft and implement laws that make our society fairer and more and more equitable. The pharmacist deals drugs that help us avoid sickness. The actor provides entertainment that adds joy and entertainment to our lives. Or in the case of Nicolas Cage, gives us a hero to model our lives after. The barista at Starbucks provides caffeine hits that makes us feel like life is worth living, right?
Amen, amen, amen. This is what it means, by the way, to think, to be a Christian in business. Some people have the worst ideas about what it means to be a Christian in business. I've told you, it thinks they mean you got to go open up a hair salon called His Clips or a Cut Above or a coffee shop called He Brews. And if that's you, that's fine.
And if that's the name of your thing, don't send me an angry email. But that's not all that it means to be a Christian in business. What it means to be a Christian in business is not that you have Christian labels attached everywhere, as much as it is that you see your career, whatever it is, your skill, your assignment as given to you by God primarily as a way of serving and caring for others.
That's the first question you should ask. The second question you ought to ask, based on Jesus' teaching here is, letter B, are there ways your job or skill set specifically can benefit the poor? You ought to ask if there are ways that your job can benefit those who are poor, crippled, blind, and lame. Listen, I want to be really careful here because I don't want to imply that all good business that's done that honors God is nonprofit or charity work. Listen to me, good for-profit businesses are absolutely critical to eliminating poverty long-term. But for some of you, there are aspects of your career that you can use to bless others that go beyond profit.
It could, of course, be the lawyer who dedicates a certain amount of their cases to be pro bono, or the dentist who engages in free community clinics. But I also know an entrepreneur in our church who has dedicated his services, his expertise, now that he is in more of the chapter where he's getting ready for retirement. He's dedicated his business to helping other small businesses get off the ground in low-income areas. Even though that may not necessarily be the most financially profitable for him, he thinks it's something that he can do to bless those who may not be able to bless him back. I know local business owners in our church who, for example, work with our prison ministry to help provide jobs for some of our prison brothers and sisters when they're released.
They're doing it, they're leveraging part of their career to be able to minister to those Jesus is talking about. Some of you have skills that can benefit the poor overseas. Listen, in pioneer missions areas, at least the ones that I'm familiar with, there's almost an endless need for English teachers and builders, construction, disaster leave, honestly. Any job that makes a viable wage in the U.S. is something that can benefit the poor somewhere. The need for good lawyers, doctors, accountants, and developing countries is massive.
And broad experience, by the way, in business leadership might be the most needed thing over there. I'd put it this way, if it's even crossing your mind that you can climb the ladder in your workplace, then you already have skills that can transform entire communities in the poorer parts of the world. Listen, according to the Theology of Work Project, 1.4 billion people in our world live in abject poverty, and another 1.1 million live on basic subsistence. The Center for Disease Control says that every week 100,000 kids in our world die of starvation or preventable hunger-related diseases. Now, Jesus' parable has to mean something in light of that.
Undoubtedly, I've heard it said, there has to be a connection between empty stomachs on one side of the Atlantic and empty lives on the other. God gave those things to you for a purpose, and he's telling you what he wants you to use them for. The skills and the resources to end most poverty, I believe, are already in the church. So you gotta ask that question, are there ways, are there ways that you might leverage that to minister to those people?
Here's a third question. Let us see, how can you leverage your job for the Great Commission? I've explained at this church many times that one of the myths, one of the destructive myths we believe is that the call to leverage your talents, your life for the Great Commission is this mystical moment that takes place in your life where everything goes blurry and a cloud descends from heaven, and it's a sacred experience that only a select few varsity Christians ever go through. Often, I explain it as what I call the Cheerios method of discerning the will of God. You're just waiting one day as you're eating your Cheerios in the morning for it magically to spell out like, go to Afghanistan, and you're like, oh, I get it, that's what God wants me to do.
I've told you, I've stared at my Cheerios for years. They've never spelled anything out to me. All it ever spells out is ooh, over and over and over again.
Never spells anything. That's just not how God calls people in the ministry. The call of, listen, the call to leverage your life for the spread of the gospel was included in the call to follow Jesus. Matthew 4.19, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you a fisher of men, which means when you accepted the call to follow Jesus, you accepted the call to use your life to spread the gospel.
And that's gotta mean something. In light of this parable, we always say right here, the question is no longer if you are called. The question now is only where and how you are called. Now, listen, we live in a world where there are still more than 6,400 unreached people groups. That is a group of 10,000 people or more who speak a language that have no viable gospel witness. They say that if you lined up all the people in those people groups into a single file line, they would circle the earth.
Just had them arm to arm. They would circle the earth 25 times. Can you imagine standing in front of a line of people as long as the earth, 25 people wide, just treading hopelessly toward destruction?
Surely that requires something from those of us who know Jesus. Over the years, I've compared it before to, I'm like if you're walking through downtown and you find yourself beside railroad tracks and there's a small child on the railroad tracks who's hurt and they can't move. They're still alive, but they can't move and you notice a train is coming, right? You don't stop and get down on your knees and say, Lord, I just, what's your will in this moment? Would you burden my heart with what you want me to do? God, would you?
No, you're like, no idiot, pick the kid up. You know what God's will is in that moment. 2 Peter 3, 9, the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We sit around talking about finding God's will for our lives.
It's not lost. God intends to use you to bring other people to Jesus. You don't need a call, a special mystical call.
You have the call. The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. You don't need a voice, we say, because you've got a verse. And I would say, it seems to me that the burden of proof lies upon us who stay in a world where there is in a society where there is so much, when there are places where there is so little. Some of you might be able to expand your company or take your skill to places in the world with no gospel witness. Historically, historically, I've explained to you before that this is the way the gospel always travels best in our world. Stephen Neal is a church historian, wrote a classic book called The History of Christian Missions, in which he traces the spread of the gospel in the early church. And he says, what is remarkable, most remarkable about the first century of growth in the Christian church is its anonymity.
Nobody really knows who's spreading the gospel. He said, by the end of the first century, you had three major church planting centers, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome. He said, what is remarkable is we have no idea who planted the churches in Antioch, Alexandria, or Rome.
No idea. He said the story of the founding of the church in Antioch takes place in Acts 11. And all it says is some brothers who were filled with the Spirit showed up in Antioch and when they were there, they planted a church. Some brothers is Luke, the writer of the book of Acts. That's his way of saying a bunch of dudes who aren't even important enough for me to tell you their names because you're never gonna see them again in scripture anyway. Just some guys that showed up and they planted a church. And one day that church was still not the apostle Paul. Acts 28, Paul, for the last half of the book of Acts is dead set on planting the church in Rome. That's what he's like. Man, Rome is like the capital of the world.
I want to plant a church there. I'm gonna take Christ where he's never been named. Man, what a journey it is, right? Shipwrecks and beatings and prison and having serpents dangle off of his arm. And finally, by Acts 28, he drags his tired old body into Rome, just beaten up. And there it says, Acts 28, 14, he is greeted by some brothers.
Same phrase, same group of unnamed guys. We're like, Paul, man, so glad for you to come and visit us. We planted a church here. We'd love for you to come maybe teach a sermon at it, maybe write us a book. That would be awesome. We would love to have a book of Romans, right?
It's all anonymous. It's all, and one day that church in Rome would have Peter as his leader, but Peter didn't found it. The gospel today spreads in the world through, not through apostolic effort. Think apostles, somebody like me, somebody who works in the church. The gospel spreads mentally through ordinary people who just say, God showed me how to use my career for the great commission. A challenging message that I'm sure you'd love to not only listen to again, but also share with a friend or a loved one.
You can always find our full teaching catalog for free at jdgrier.com. JD, something we've noticed is that while most Christians believe that the Bible is true, a lot of us don't really spend time studying it on our own. But one of our primary goals here at Summit Life is to help our listeners become better students of the Bible themselves. Yeah, Molly, you know, the best definition I've ever heard of preaching is helping people read the word of God better, right?
We don't want you just to take my word for it or become dependent on me or anybody else when it comes to the Bible. We want to equip you to study and dig into this incredible book for yourself. And hear from God in his inexhaustibly rich word. This month, we've got a book of devotions, a Bible study help. These are daily devotions and scripture readings that are the perfect entry place. And they offer a chance for you to dig deeper into the scriptures that we're discussing on this program and to help you get in the habit of daily Bible reading. It's going to give you some central ideas and then a couple of questions every day for reflection and then a prayer prompt. We are praying that this devotional book will help you feel more confident and joyful in reading the Bible so that when you pick it up on your own, it's not a big confusing book, but it's an invitation to the greatest experience of joy and purpose that you'll ever encounter. Releasing for the first time today, this brand new resource won't take you hours to work through each day.
In only a few minutes, you can truly begin to prioritize time in God's word and create a lifelong habit of transformation. We'd love to hear from you and get you this 10-day devotional book. We'll send you a copy today as our way of saying thanks for your financial gift of $35 or more to support this ministry. Join our mission today when you give by calling 866-335-5220. And remember to ask for your copy of our newest resource, Listen Up, 10 Interactive Devotions from the Parables of Jesus. I'm Molly Benovitch inviting you to tune in again next time when we wrap up this short teaching series called Come to the Table, Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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