A few years ago my dad was going through a building campaign at his church in Indiana. In their efforts to raise money for their new building, they launched a vision series entitled A Place at the Table. Their vision was to see more open seats for people to join Jesus at His table. In one of those messages my dad wrote,
When you were a toddler you sat in a high chair or at the kid’s table and you wanted a place at the adult table with the big people. And then you went to school and you needed to fit in and you wanted to belong and the school cafeteria made it clear whether you were accepted or not if you had a place at the table. And then adulthood came and you worked and contributed and tried to survive and make your opinions known and when it came to how things should be done you just wanted to be heard and have a place at the table in your life pursuits. And as you got a little older you started to realize the beauty and importance of family and you would give just about anything to have that place at the table together with your family as you go through life.
Any of those scenarios ring true for you? Or maybe worse, do all of them sound familiar? As we go through life, we all want to be accepted. We want relationship and community. We want to know that we have people that we can rely on and people who rely on us. Having a place at the table is important to us. The need and desire to be seated at the table will often dictate and control our emotions and our actions whether we admit or not.
Sadly, so many of us go through life feeling like we have no place at the table. We’ve been chewed up and spit out too many times and we have believed the lie that we are unworthy. We’re not good enough. And nobody wants anything to do with us. So we give up. We throw in the towel simply because of what we think others say and think about us.
Too often we feel neglected and distant from the table because people have pulled the chair out from under us and kept us distant. In fact, I would argue that the majority of people who don’t like Jesus, don’t like Him because of how other people have treated them. And Jesus has something to say to those who prevent others from coming to the table.
One day Jesus was walking through the Temple and he saw some corrupt practices going on. There were some money changers who were profiting on people who simply wanted to worship God. They made it too expensive for these worshippers to ever dream of having a place at the table… When Jesus sees this he expresses some righteous anger and actually begins flipping over all the tables in the Temple… Read the whole thing in Mark 11:15-18 and see how Jesus expresses His anger!
But here’s the bottom line — Jesus overturns the tables because people were keeping other people from His table. In other words, Jesus will not let someone else limit your access to Him. In fact, He went to even greater lengths than just turning over some tables… He went to the cross. And on the cross, Jesus says to each of us…
“I don’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done or how you’ve failed. My sacrifice, my new covenant is for you, the ground is level here and you have a place at the table.”
You see, Jesus breaks down the barriers and the caste systems and the pretense and the self importance and He forgives AND gives you A PLACE AT HIS TABLE.
So there’s two brief points of application in all of this:
First, don’t be that person that keeps people from God. Jesus will get mad. And He will respond accordingly. Instead, focus on being like Jesus and bringing more people to the table.
Second, don’t believe the lie that you’re not wanted at His table. He died for you. He loves you. And He wants nothing more than to be in relationship with you. And if you want a place at His table, we would love nothing more than to walk with you to your seat and help you in any way we can.