There are box seats in baseball stadiums and prime seats on the 50-yard line. They are not only the best seats to see all of the action, but they are expensive and prestigious. What are the best seats in the kingdom of heaven?
“When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the last important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)
One of the best examples of a front-row seat seeker was Bob Uecker. In a famous Miller Lite television commercial, Bob was convinced that as a former big-league baseball player, his free tickets were going to be the best seats in the house.
At the dinner table of a prominent Pharisee, Jesus noticed that there were a several guests like Bob Uecker. They were positioning themselves for places of honor and felt deserving of a front row seat. Jesus chastised them. Instead of being envious power-grabbers who longed to be noticed, they ought to be humble servants seeking to serve.
Jesus’ parable got me to thinking about what are the best seats in the kingdom of heaven.
At a ballgame, the most expensive seats are in the front row. You are close to the action and see every play as it unfolds.
At church, I find it curious that the best seats in the house are those in the back. Bob Uecker would have no problem coming to a worship service and finding a seat in front. In fact, he would more than likely be all alone.
If Jesus were conducting worship this Sunday at your church, I wonder if the back row would still be a prized seat? Most of us would want to see him up close, hear every word, and capture every movement.
The Bible promises that whenever two or three gathers in his name – Jesus is with us. The Bible also promises that Jesus’ presence is in his Word and sacraments. Every Sunday morning, Jesus is there! I wonder if we miss that amazing truth during a worship service.
We know where the best seats are for a ball game, but what about heaven?
Jesus provides a picture of heaven to be like a banquet. I can picture him at the head the table acknowledging believers in the presence of the heavenly hosts and seating them at his right hand. The best seats in the house will be at Jesus’ feet.
The kingdom on earth provides so many temptations and distractions that it is easy to forget that the kingdom of heaven is a different ballgame with a different set of rules. Our human nature tells us that victory can only be achieved by serving our ambitions and lust for power. The wisdom of the world tells us that we can be right with God based on what we can do. It is pride that causes us to pursue places of honor. This is how you play the game according to the rules of the world.
Christ teaches something completely different. He teaches us that when we seek to exalt ourselves – we will ultimately lose. When we seek to serve others, we win. We may never be recognized or acknowledged on this earth, but through our service, we are introducing Christ.
The game of life is centered upon finishing the race in Christ and trusting his promises to the end. Our life in Christ discovers that our life is not about fulfilling ourselves in this kingdom, but being conscious of our purpose and Christ’s commission for us. Christ’s desire becomes our desire – to bring as many people as possible to the great banquet in heaven.
By placing Christ first in our lives, believers confidently take the best seats in the house. They bask in wonder behind the message of the cross, the miracle of the sacraments, and the power of every Word. They step out in faith to share their faith, regularly humble themselves, and seek to serve rather than to be served. They are honest and transparent with others. They are far more interested in advancing the kingdom of God rather than be concerned about increasing church membership. They become all things to all people so that by all possible means they might save some.
Evangelists are like Bob Uecker. They can expect the best seats in the house, because they get front row seats to watch God at work through the power of his Word.
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