Weekly Devotion by Pastor Seyward Ask
I will admit it: While I claim to love movies -- and I really, really do! -- I am almost equally a sucker for a good TV show. And almost nothing is better than having an entire season to binge-watch over a matter of days. Recently my husband Justin and I did such binge-watching with not one, not two, but three seasons of the very popular "Game of Thrones." For those who are not familiar with this TV show, "Game of Thrones" is a fantasy drama series by HBO, based on a series of novels by George R R Martin. The show takes place in a different time and a different world, where magic and dragons exist, and a civil war is constantly being waged between several noble families, all fighting for the highest position of power, the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms.
Along with the scheming, there is a huge emphasis in the TV show of only doing something if it will benefit yourself in some way or another, doing favors and keeping track of them for the sole purpose of having someone in your debt. Nothing is ever done for free; there are always strings attached. And while not everyone has that mindset in our world today, it is still very real and very much a part of our culture. And the same was true for the people in Luke's Gospel.
The people who were attending the banquet along with Jesus surely thought he was crazy when he told them, "Don't invite your rich neighbors to a banquet, because then they might invite you in return and you will be repaid. Instead invite the poor, those who cannot pay you back." Well, that sounds kind of backwards, doesn't it? Nobody just gets something for nothing, do they? Nothing is ever done for free in our world, or in the "Game of Thrones" world, or in the biblical world.
However, there is a world of sorts where true freedom is possible, and that is the kingdom of God. God loves us and forgives us and redeems us, even when we do absolutely nothing in return. God doesn't keep score, doesn't do favors in order to gain them. No. God simply loves and gives, and does both freely. And God wants nothing more than for us to do the same for each other.
Can we do that? Can we stop keeping score of who owes who what? Can we do something for someone with absolutely no strings attached, simply just because? This is what Jesus was challenging the other dinner guests, and it's what he is challenging us. Can we step up to the challenge?
Let us pray: Gracious God, none of us truly deserves your love and grace, and yet you give them to us freely, with no strings attached, simply because you see us as your precious children. Help us to show that same love for each other, to value others not because of what they can do for us, but simply because they, too, are your precious children. Help us to stop keeping score, Lord; help us to love freely. Amen.