Right now, you may be hiding in the crowd, wondering what it’s like to be exposed in all this mess before Jesus. He is calling you his daughter and son. He wants you to know that you are not damaged, second-rate, unworthy, or unloved. You are a precious and beloved child whom he has created and redeemed specifically for his purposes.
This parable in Luke 14 is Jesus’ summation of Israel’s response to him: God had invited them to his kingdom, and they had (on the surface) accepted, but now they are making excuses as to why they can’t come. These are really religious people, of course—they had accepted the first invitation and considered themselves God’s people. But now that Jesus is here and inviting them to follow him, they won’t respond.
Anxiety thinks too little about God because it elevates the obtaining of other things besides him as the most essential element the good life. Anxiety says that God may be able to take you to heaven, but he can’t handle you on earth. It tells you that God is good for eternity but insufficient for the present. It whispers that God delivered you from damnation but won’t work out the details of your life. Anxiety scoffs at the promises of God.
In Numbers 11, the children of Israel were about a year out from being delivered from slavery. They were passing through a wilderness, where God led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night and every morning provided manna for them to eat. Yet despite his miraculous provision, the Israelites still complained about their circumstances, and their complaining is a direct result of envy.
We have an angry society, don’t we? If you doubt it, just turn on the talk shows at night—any of them. The issues change by the day, but the anger doesn’t. People seem queued up and ready to be angry—in the classroom, at work, on Twitter, and (as always) on the freeway. Paul’s words in Ephesians seem timelier than ever.
People around us are suffering, often profoundly, usually silently. We should desire to be churches where people who are not OK can find Jesus in loving community. The road to healing from shame begins as we speak it. As you come out of the shadows and speak it, you’ll hear the voice of the Savior and Shepherd saying, “My daughter! My son!” And his declaration will begin to heal those wounds.