I Live God-First by Worshipping
Passage to Read
The Wedding Celebration, Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:15-24.
Point to Ponder
Imagine throwing a wonderful wedding feast. How would you feel if you offered invitations to your family and friends but nobody came? Yet that’s exactly what happens in this story, told in two different parables by Jesus.
A king invited a bunch of friends to a wedding celebration for his son, but they dismissed the invitation and went their different ways, one guy to his farm, another to his business. Luke’s version gives a fair amount of color and detail here. It paints a picture of people who are just too busy and self-absorbed to come to the party. One guy RSVPs by saying he can’t make it because he just bought a new piece of property; too much to do there. Another says he’s busy with his livestock. Then another one says he’s just gotten married himself and can’t possibly come.
I would like us to consider these parables as if they are about the call to corporately worshipping with one another in church.
When the invitation to worship comes, what is the attitude of our heart: apathy or excitement? Do we have excuses? Are there twenty-seven other things that seem more important for us to do?
We have a job; we have family responsibilities; we have all sorts of things that we must do. Of course, all of these things are important. The Bible never says that they are not important. But we must recognize whether those things are trying to creep into first place and keep us from the joy of coming to the celebration and worshipping together corporately.
That’s what church is all about! It’s a big celebration of the goodness of God!
Putting God first and putting the Kingdom first means we put worship first.
This is not so much an issue of discipline — the Pharisee was quite disciplined! It’s a matter of our heart. God is a relational God, so it’s no surprise what happens next in the parable. When the people don’t show up, God invites new people. The celebration will go on. He will share His goodness and grace with those who will make it a priority to receive it. We must never forget that worship, both personal and corporate, is about relationship, and living the God-first life is about cultivating that relationship in worship.
Something else happens in this story to which I want to draw your attention. Notice in Matthew’s account that Jesus takes the time to point out that a man shows up to the feast wearing the wrong garment. It’s as if he shows up in cargo shorts and a Tommy Bahama shirt when he should have known better and worn a tux. And what happens? The king who’s throwing the party tells his servants to tie the guy up and toss him out.
Now, Jesus is not saying that if we don’t dress a certain way outwardly when we come to church, He is going to throw us out. No. Here’s the deal. In Jesus’ day the host provided not only the food and festivities, but also the garments for the guests to wear. For this man to show up and wear something else was an insult to the host. In other words, this man still showed up, but it was obvious that he thought very lightly of whom he was there to honor.
How does that apply to us? Pretty simply actually, and it goes back to the issue of our heart.
Let’s not just go through the motions when we show up at church.
We must remember whom we are there to worship and celebrate. He is worthy of nothing less.
Prayer to Offer
Jesus, I accept the invitation to deepen my relationship with You in worship. Help me order my priorities to match Yours. Don’t let me get so distracted that I start to have the wrong attitude about worshipping. Instead, I choose to follow Your lead in my life, and I ask that you rekindle my love for You — your presence in a new way. In your name, Amen.
Thing to Do
When is the next worship service at your church? Whenever it is, Sunday or the middle of week, just go. What if you don’t yet have a church? Get on Facebook and ask some friends. This is one party too important to miss.
Excerpted with permission from Living the God-First Life by Stovall Weems, copyright Zondervan, 2015.
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What things are trying to creep into first place and keep us from the joy of coming to the celebration and worshipping together corporately? What is trying to sneak in your life or take over your calendar and personal bandwidth to keep you from going to church and celebrating Jesus in your community of worship? Come join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily