Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No More Excuses

But they all alike began to make excuses. Luke 14:18a.

As human history has advanced over thousands of years we have made great strides of advancement in many areas. From the advent of fire we have now come to a place where we have harnessed that power for all types of helpful, and destructive, things. Since we first left the confines of terra firma using powered flight just over one hundred years ago, we can now travel all over the world in a matter of hours on the wings of jetliners. There are some areas, however, where our growth has been...stunted. One such area is our ability and willingness to make excuses. Who among us has not been invited to a function we do not want to go to and subsequently made an excuse?

This all began very early in our history. After eating the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve were faced with an inquiring God and Adam provided the first excuse; "That woman YOU made for me made me do it." Adam says raising his arm with an outstretched finger towards his wife. Wide-eyed at her husband's lack of hesitation in throwing her under the bus of divine inquiry Eve makes the second excuse, one that will be used for the remainder of human history, "The devil made me do it."

Moses, the greatest leader in Israelite history, is also famous for his excuse making. When confronted with a burning bush and the holy commission to lead God's people out of the land of Egypt he was quick to make his excuses. "They won't believe me and besides I'm not a good public speaker." Neither of these would satisfy God and guess what Moses did? He lead the people out of Egypt.

Perhaps one of the most flamboyant excuses of all time happened in the wilderness after Moses came down from the mountain of God. Finding the people worshiping a golden calf Moses confronted his brother Aaron for some answers. "Well," Aaron began, "We tossed all of this gold into the fire and...and...this golden calf just came out!" Sure it did Aaron and I suppose your dog ate your homework as well.

In Luke 14 Jesus offers a parable in which three people who had been invited to a celebration make excuses why they couldn't come. The first one claimed to have just bought some land and needed to go check it out. The second one, similarly, claimed he needed to go test some newly purchased oxen. The third begged that his recent marriage would offer a suitable excuse for his absence. To be sure, there are certain unavoidable circumstances that truly do keep us from an obligation. Unfortunately, neither of these three excuses fell into that category.

As I studied this passage one great question took up residence in my mind;

"What excuses are we making before God?" 

First and foremost, what excuses are we making to God for not accepting His offer of salvation? Do we claim that there is not enough "evidence." Romans chapter 1 sends a torpedo deeply below the waterline of that one. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Perhaps you tell yourself, and God, that there are some things that you want to do in your life before you turn it over to Him. Friend, our lives are like vapors and there is precious little time to waiver on the issue of salvation. The saddest excuse that has ever been made goes something like this, "I need to get my life straightened out before I go to God/church," or even sadder, "God wouldn't want to have anything to do with me." I cannot think of a more sinister deception foisted on humans by the enemy. The truth is 1) you can't straighten you life out without Christ and 2) it is not the healthy that need the physician but the broken. God desperately wants your brokenness so that He can make you whole again. It was the sinners and outcasts that Jesus spent His time with. Know this, Jesus knew how limited His time was on this earth and He chose to spend it with the ones who society didn't want to have anything to do with. He wants sinners to come to Him so bad that He came and died for us!

Those of us who are redeemed also have a nasty habit of making excuses. What kind of excuses are you making for not obeying the call of God? Every so often we are bold enough to tell the truth and just say, "I don't want to do what God has told me to do." However, usually we do what? Make an excuse. I'm not skilled enough, I don't have the talent it would take, I don't have the resources it would take, I don't have time, I'm not worthy and on and on it goes. If God has called you to do something rest assured that He has the details of it all figured out. He didn't accidentally call you. "Sorry, I dialed the wrong number" is not in God's vocabulary.

Jesus makes the consequences of excuse making very clear at the end of the parable.

For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.

The consequences of not responding to the invitation into God's kingdom are severe. No matter how we try to explain it away Jesus said it in no uncertain terms. If you're invited to come to the King's feast and you turn Him down, there will be no supper for you. For those of us who have become a part of God's eternal family there are still consequences to rejecting His call on our lives. Those consequences are going to vary from person to person but there are real none the less. In Ezekiel chapter 3 God gives the prophet his instructions and tells him that if he decides not to warn someone who God has told him to warn, their blood will be on his hands. The most basic calling that all Christians share is the call to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. If we are not doing that then there may be people that God intended to warn through us that will perish and not taste His dinner. Our personal salvation may not be at stake but we will have to answer for our disobedience.

I can scarcely imagine what the world would look like if people would stop making phony excuses. Many more people would be joining the Kingdom of God, of that I am sure. Friend, what excuses are you making for not coming to Christ? Christian, what excuses are you making for not following the call of God in your life? Put them away and let there be no more excuses.

In Christ,
Christian

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