The Olympics are over and now the fallout has begun. Australia won 29 medals in Rio, at a cost of $11,434,910 per medal.
People are now starting to ask questions demanding answers and accountability and whose fault for our lack of success. We expected better. We ended up 10th we expected 5th and many are considering this a failure.
We are a very success driven nation. As the AFL home and away season ends this weekend there are probably some very nervous coaches and players who didn’t provide the success expected.
We need to blame someone. We don’t handle lack of success very well, whether it’s sporting, getting the desired result in VCE, applying for a job, we seem to not realise that someone has to miss out.
Jesus speaks today to that situation. He noticed at a wedding feast that everyone expected to sit in the seat of honour. The problem is that not everyone can sit in the seat of honour otherwise it becomes meaningless.
It’s like the difficulty I have when I fill out a feedback survey asking for my opinion on a conference or some other experience. You mark from one to 10 – with 10 being the best. But as soon as I mark something 10 what if I find that in a later question my experience was even better. I have to go back and mark that down, maybe to 8 or 9 so I can indicate this one was even better.
So Jesus tells the people that when you’re invited somewhere, don’t immediately go to the seat of honour because you might have to give up that seat for someone more important – and then you’ll be embarrassed. Instead, go to the lower seat and wait to be called up to a higher seat and you’ll received a double honour – firstly for being in the seat of honour but also the attention of being invited up higher.
Jesus is trying to deal with a very real human problem in how to deal with life when life doesn’t go the way that we would hope it goes or how we believe it should go. This goes right back to the very beginning of life with Adam and Eve who were not content with what they had and sought more.
They were led by Satan to believe that they deserved more – “you will be like God”. (Genesis 3:5) And just as Satan fell from his seat of honour that was his intention for Adam and Eve – and us.
We put great expectations on ourselves to achieve and so does society with today a lot of people are struggling because they are not achieving what they believe they are entitled to. How many relationships struggle because they over extend themselves with a huge mortgage to secure that home for themselves.
How many young people are suffering depression because they spent all those years at Uni, have a massive HECS debt, and can’t get the job they believe they deserve. How many mature aged people feel like failures because they have lost their job and can’t even get an interview because they are told they are too old? How many Christians feel let down by God because after a lifetime of faithful devotion to God and the church they have had a tragic circumstance happen in their life? We deserve better!
Jesus, along with the writer of the Hebrews bible reading today is urging us to be content with life. We may not always get that seat of honour but life is more than that. The writer to the Hebrews says: “be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5);
There are times when our lives become difficult and we need to keep reminding ourselves what the writer of Hebrews says: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
Life is constantly unfair as our economy fails, as our health fails, as our abilities fail. But, as Christians, we are so thankful that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). Nothing else in this life can claim that assurance and stability. Nothing else in life can offer you total acceptance without any expectations.
Human life began by the love of God and his desire for companionship with human beings created in his own image. And even when that very human life that God created let him down he continued to love us promising a Saviour to draw us back into relationship with him.
And even when that same humanity put the saviour to death – God continued to love us. That’s what unconditional love does.
And for no other reason than God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for us. And we do nothing to deserve that honour but simply receive God’s unconditional love.
In a world where there are so many expectations- so many demands – so many unfulfilled dreams – how amazing that God accepts us for who we are without expecting anything in return.
God does, however, invite us to share in the joy of that unconditional love by showing that love to others. Every day we come across opportunities to relieve the burdens of others who are caught in the cycle of demands and expectations. Every day we come across opportunities to raise the spirits of those who have been neglected by society because they don’t measure up.
As the writer to the Hebrews encourages: Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 3:2) What a difference it can make to our attitude when we see people as angels and the opportunity to share unconditional love. It puts life into true perspective when we see other people not as people we are competing with for places of honour but as opportunities to love without expecting anything back.
Jesus uses that example when he says: But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, (Luke 14:13).
And it means that we don’t have to despair if life doesn’t give us what we might believe we deserve or expect because God has a greater reward waiting for us. Jesus says: you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:14).