ODJ: Blossoms in the Desert

June 25, 2018 

READ: Luke 14:7-14 

“When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, . . . “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” (vv.12-13).

The most dangerous place for Christians to be is in comfort and safety, detached from the suffering of others,” argue the authors of Common Prayer, suggesting that following Jesus includes a commitment to the “abandoned places of the empire”—places the world has given up on. In a special way, those places where we might expect only despair are often where we see most clearly the persistent love of a God who never gives up on His world.

It’s only natural to want protection from suffering and loss. But Jesus taught that, paradoxically, it’s when we “try to hang on” to our lives that we lose them, and it’s when we “give up” on securing our lives that we find real life (Luke 9:24).

Over and over in His ministry, Jesus called for His followers to choose another path than the pursuit of power and security. When He attended a banquet where guests were scrambling for “seats of honour”, He taught that they should instead choose the “lowest” seat at the table (Luke 14:7,10). Then He went even further. Turning to the host, He said our celebrations shouldn’t be events for our “friends, brothers, relatives and rich neighbours” (v.12). Instead, they should be feasts for “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. . . . those who could not repay you” (vv.13-14).

We are all poor before God, able only to receive His gifts (1 Corinthians 4:7). It’s only in humble awareness of our need that we can draw near to His heart (James 4:10). And as we follow Jesus’ example of self-giving love in the hardest places of our world, we will also witness new creation where no one thought possible, new life blossoming in the desert (Isaiah 35:1).

—Monica Brands

365-day plan: Luke 5:1-39

Read James 2:1-7 and reflect on what it means for God to have “chosen the poor”. 
When have you seen God’s power transform something or someone almost everyone had given up on? What are some places of despair where you can bring His hope?