16 Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’” (Luke 14:16-24 NRSV)
Excuses, excuses. Scripture tells us they are as old as creation. Look at the story from the 3rd chapter of Genesis. Adam ate the forbidden fruit, then when confronted about it, he came up with an excuse: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Eve? What about it? “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”
Do you remember the story of the Golden Calf? The Israelites were in the wilderness. Moses, their leader, was up on the mountain talking with God. His brother Aaron had been left in charge of the camp. The people became restless and worried that Moses might not come back. “Give us something to worship, Aaron.” He told them to bring their golden bracelets and earrings to him, he melted them down and fashioned a crude idol for them to worship. When Moses returned, he asked Aaron if he had made the idol. “Me? No. I threw [the gold] into the fire, and out came this calf!” Voila. Magic. Aaron was not to blame, the fire was! Ridiculous? Of course. And humanity has continued with ridiculous excuses ever since.
So, what is your excuse? Is it business that is keeping you away from Church/ God? Is it that new boat or camper? How about family and friends coming over on Sunday. That’s ok; isn’t it? Doesn’t the Bible promote family relationships? Can we ignore our friends? Really? Is there really a valid reason for not attending Church on Sunday morning? It is only an hour out of your day, but may mean a lifetime of difference. It may mean the difference between Heaven and Hell. What if God gave you an excuse when you needed Him most? He asks so little, but provides so much.
As we ponder church attendance we are called to reflection, to self-examination, to repentance, and an opportunity to give us…an “EXCUSE,” if you like…to make the changes in our lives that we know very well “SHOULD” be made. If there are changes that need to be made in your relationship with the Lord and with his church, make the changes. If there are changes that need to be made in your relationships to family and friends, make the changes. If there are changes that need to be made in your business affairs and the way you handle them, make the changes. If there are changes that need to be made in society, and you have any influence in that regard, make the changes. No ifs, ands or “BUTS.”
Randy Nielsen is the pastor of Chandlers Chapel and Duncans Chapel United Methodist Church. Service Times: Duncans – 9:45 a.m.; Chandlers – 11 a.m. / Bible Study – 6:30pm.