So, it happens frequently, as it should with anyone who loves God and reads His Word, that you’re sat there reading something you’ve read perhaps many times before in the Bible, and you are suddenly struck by something that never hit you before. I’m going to attempt to stay away from tautology on this blog but you get the idea – I could say that a lot!
Well this time, it was a parable in Luke 14, about a wedding feast. I would say it is fairly well known as parables go – though not perhaps as much as that of the sower or of the prodigal son. But it is certainly up there. The story goes that the Master (representing Jesus/God) wants to throw a large dinner party and sends out a slave to invite his intended guests. But one by one they all decline for various reasons – apparently they have more important things to worry about.
Well when the Master hears of this He’s quite mad about it and tells the slave to try a different crowd now – go out and fetch in the poor, the lame, the maimed, the blind. The stragglers of society. This is done and the slave reports, “there is still room.”
So, the Master said, “Well, it’ll have to do, we’ve had a go at getting the guests, we’ve had a go at getting some of the disadvantaged in, that’s it. Let’s eat.”
…oh wait, no.
He says, “Go again!” And this time the slave just has to bring in ANYONE he can find who is along the highways, hiding in the hedges, the ABSOLUTE dregs of society!
This, you may have guessed, is what hit me this morning as I suddenly felt thoroughly inadequate before God as a bringer of good news. Oh, this has been our favourite verse in evangelism, to go to the highways and byways – but do we REALLY go with the kind of fervency that the Master in that story had? That God has?
He wants a full house! Not a half-full one! That’s why it’s such a shame that we have so many half-full, half-empty churches around the nation. That’s not His desire! This isn’t a seminar on church growth and he that hath the biggest church getteth the biggest prize – it’s just about God getting in everyone that He can! And WE are His agents!
There is such a force of His desire behind these words. When I read them I had such a sense of the words as they are carried on the wind of the Spirit. There was a day some 2000 years ago when Jesus first spoke these words, and I believe along with all of His words that these continue to sound out with power calling God’s servants to be sent out in His desire that EVERYONE, ANYONE should come in and enjoy God’s feast.
So, church, followers of Jesus, lovers of God – go again. If you’ve been once and maybe had a few conversions, don’t stop. Go again. For His great desire that His house should be filled, no matter who with – and it’s true, those you want to come won’t always come, and those you’d really rather not come in because they smell and are a bit difficult, perhaps, they’ll be the first to walk through the door because they really have no cares in life.
I count myself as possibly one of the worst evangelists I know of – if I’m talking on human terms. But while many of us might agree, if we’re passionate Christians, with that as an assessment of ourselves, it’s important not to denigrate ourselves so much that we miss God showing us what we can be. If we leave it at being bad evangelists, and settle for that, there’s a danger we’ll reject the anointing to be faithful witnesses because we simply won’t believe it’s within our capacity. True, in and of ourselves we might be terrible at sharing the Gospel (or worse, we actually trust ourselves that we ARE able and then categorically rule out that we need anything extra from God, like the anointing), but with His power and His anointing operating fully in our lives we can witness a great change in the atmosphere and minister with power to draw in the lost. I repeat, in and of myself I am no good at reaching out to people in a way which draws them and makes them want to come to God, but when they see HIM on me, and in me, HE’s the one they’ll be attracted to!
I have, for example, found myself in situations where I’m witnessing to someone who has been on drugs, been kicked out of education, worked as a security guard and bouncer at nightclubs – and they were listening to me out of choice! (And if anyone knows me, I’m definitely not the kind to get along naturally with these types!) Because I’d prayed and had the word of the Lord over Him, God orchestrated it even against my human will! But I went with it because I knew God was in it.
Or with the anointing on me, I’ve even buzzed around a square in Norway where only half the people could half speak my language, offering prayer and speaking to people about the Lord – because I felt the anointing. The subject of the anointing is a whole area in itself and I don’t say this to magnify my own ministry, as I say many times in my life it has been without power. But when you catch the Lord’s heart for people AND His power and the ability to do it through His Spirit, with God all things are possible. I have had prophetic words over me concerning evangelism and proclaiming the Word of God. And while in my flesh I can’t fathom the fulfillment of even one part of these words, when I’ve heard them my spirit has responded and risen up to lay hold of the Word by faith, and I need to remain true to His calling and work set out for my life even as I acknowledge that I alone cannot work it out, but Him in me.