Luke 14:1, 7-14 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. –Luke 14:11
I have always preferred working in the background. Behind the scenes. When I was in High School, I participated in a few musicals (we only did one every-other year). But, I was never interested in being on stage. I was a part of the audio-visual crew. Lights and sound. My senior year, I was chosen to run the master light board. I sat up in the projection booth at the back of the theater and, though I was out of sight, I felt powerful behind that huge board that controlled, well, everything. That was, until a fuse blew on opening night plunging everything into darkness. I won’t repeat the words the director said in my headphones.
Jesus’ words about humility at the end of this week’s parable have always confused me. Humility is a good thing. I get that. To be humble is to be who you are, nothing more, nothing less. The word comes from the same root as “humanity.” To be humble is to be human in the fullest sense of that word. It appears that those who aspire to the place of honor in the parable are anything but humble. They seek the limelight. They want to be at center stage. They want the attention focused on them. But, Jesus warns, the limelight can go dark as quickly as it shines. It can be embarrassing when you find out that you didn’t get the lead role. Better to stay in the wings and wait to be called. Right? But then he drops this line about the humble being exalted. It’s almost as if he is suggesting that humility is the correct path to take to the limelight. But, if your end goal is to be exalted… is that really humility? If you’re hiding in the projection booth reveling in the power of your humility, the lights could still go out and leave you embarrassed. Trust me on this one.
That’s why we need to keep reading.
True humility is not about working the angles to get recognized, repaid or lauded by your admiring friends. True humility – true humanity -- is found in the realization that life is not about you. We were all created in the image of God, not to be gods, but to care for one another, to care for the creation, and to tend whatever little piece of the world God has placed in our hands. In this parable and the next Jesus teaches us to care for the “poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.” In other places it is the stranger, the prisoner, the hungry and the naked. Jesus, through his own example, shows us that we are to welcome the prostitute, the tax collector, sinners, outcasts and even our enemies. There are people all around us every day who need our care. And there are people all around us every day who God will use to care for us… if we let them. And together, we are lifted up from the ashes to praise the One who was the most human of us all. The One who rose from the dead to give us all life to share --whether we find ourselves on stage or working behind the scenes.
Thanks for reading. Pray that God give you the vision the see those around you in need of God’s love, and the courage to care for them.