I am a lover of nature. I guess in some respects I always have been. I grew up at the foot of Lookout Mountain and have always loved chasing after bugs, reptiles, craw-fish and anything else that would cross my path. Being outdoors was just a natural a part of my formative years. Of course now I reside in Odessa, TX. When we lived in Michigan our cabin fever season existed during the winter months. You got out, but only if you had to. In West Texas I have discovered that cabin fever runs through the months of June – August. Never have I been more thankful for air-conditioning in my life. So what does the nature lover do in Odessa, TX? My wife recently helped out with this when she came home from a shopping trip with a bird feeder. I was ecstatic. But after two days, the birds were no closer to feasting on the bounty I had set before them. I then read that most song birds do not rely on a sense of smell to find a feeder, but by sight. So I began to leave seed all around the feeder to invite them to the spread laid out before them and this morning we almost had our first guest perch.
It reminds me of this parable that we recently took another look at in one of our Wednesday night gatherings. In the parable of The Great Banquet we hear of a master who prepared a feast and those invited decided to make excuses instead of attending. His servant then went out and invited the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Even after this, the banquet wasn’t full and we read this, “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” – Luke 14:23 The servant was instructed to go to all those considered outsiders and to “compel” them to come to the banquet. There is almost this presupposition that these outsiders will hear of this feast, receive the invitation from the servant, but then think it is not for them. So the Greek here actually refers to the servant having to almost drag them to the feast so that they will know it’s for them.
I’ve felt a little like this with the bird feeder. Here I have this abundance of food laid out for the birds but they don’t know it’s for them. I have to lead them to it…show them that this feast is for them. It’s the same way for us in the church with the gift of forgiveness and new life in Christ. Those who are on the outside and haven’t experienced God’s forgiveness often don’t even know what is being made available. Sometimes they don’t even realize that they have this need. And yet, God has laid out this extravagant feast that we refer to as The Kingdom of God or New Life in Christ and he has charged us with sharing the invitation. But much like my own predicament with the feeder, it is not good enough for it just to be. We are called to “compel” those outside, to lead them to the table and reassuringly tell them, “it’s for you”. May we find ourselves caught up in the joy of the servant offering up this compelling invitation to those outside today and continually remind them, “it’s for you”.