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Are You In?

Jesus told a parable about a great banquet. We can read it in Luke 14:12-24. The story is about a man who invited many people to a huge feast, and they all made excuses not to be there. In the end he brought in anyone who would come, many of whom were poor or disabled, until the place, and as many bellies as could fit within it, was full.

It’s easy to make excuses in this day and age. There are more distractions vying for our time for ‘one thing’, and commitment seems to mean less than it did. Whatever happened to “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no”? I can’t pretend to like it, yet I sometimes find myself making excuses too. The man who threw the great banquet was angry when his friends declined his invitation, not least because of their excuses. I wonder what kinds of excuses we make in our discipleship or when it comes to meeting in our bands or other fellowship groups?

You fill in the blanks with excuses you have heard or given: “I can’t make it because X Y Z” (and A B C D E…)

I worry that it can become almost second nature to make excuses if we don’t watch ourselves, and easy to accept them from others. Please don’t get me wrong – life happens, and sometimes there are pressing needs that understandably take precedent – but I believe these are few. After all, groups like bands commit to one another under God. When someone misses it, we all miss out on a blessing. For Wesley, ‘death or dismemberment’ were the only excuses for missing a band meeting that held any water, and even then they needed to be your own death or dismemberment! I once messaged a band I’m in to give my apologies that day, because a family health issue needed urgent attention. My band released me to go. It wasn’t that I said sorry I can’t make it, but that they were releasing me out of the covenantal relationship that we have together.

Back to Jesus’s parable, remembering those who said they couldn’t make it to the banquet and who missed out, I believe we need this parable to speak to us about our bands and other fellowship groups, and perhaps other things in our life that we need to commit to. After all, we know that we can take a horse to water but that we can’t make it drink.

A football/soccer manager once said he would crawl on broken glass in order to be the manager at a certain club if he’d had the chance. I’m not sure how true that was but what a quote about commitment?! It makes me ask how committed are we to Jesus? And then to our fellowship bands and so on? And how committed are they to us? I doubt that Jesus or Wesley would recommend that any of us ‘flog a dead horse’ so to speak. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of what matters most, and where our energies should be focused.

We need to be intentional about the bands, house fellowships etc that God calls us to be in. As much as it may pain us we can only invest so much in folk who mean well but aren’t committed. Jesus, the master, is inviting you and I to a wonderful feast! We don’t deserve it, but that’s the gospel of grace for us right there! He has a feast of things for us to do that we can only taste if we are present. The question is: Are you in? And by extension, who is coming along with you?

Matt is an Inspire Missioner and Co-Director of the Inspire GB Core Team

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