“When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them . . . when you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11 (NRSV)
I’m sure we all know people who have a very high opinion of themselves – their own importance or status in life. It can be annoying to have to deal with such egos. Yet, I wonder if sometimes those people actually lack self-esteem.
Doesn’t it take a lot of self-esteem to be able to serve others and not worry about our own status in society? When we look at the example of Jesus, we see someone who knew himself, was sure of himself, didn’t let himself be pushed around by others in authority, showed compassion for the down-trodden, and served without even really wanting the notoriety.
Jesus was confident in his mission. His status didn’t matter to him. As his followers, maybe that’s one thing this parable does to remind us – we are followers who take to heart his guidance and teachings about putting others before ourselves. We do this, not because we become door mats for others to use for wiping their feet, but because we want to share the love of Christ in the world, and we are confident in our mission as Christians.
I was reminded recently about visitors who had gone to some church somewhere and sat down toward the back of the church. A woman who had attended the church for many years came to the pew and told them they would have to move because that was “her” pew. If I had been those parishioners, I would have moved, all right – right out the door!
None of us is better than another person, rather, Jesus “puts us in our place” by telling us to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought and to find places where we can serve God in the name of Jesus Christ. We can have the confidence of knowing that our mission and purpose in life is being fulfilled. May it be so!