Devotional Thoughts for Today
Lk. 14:7-11: Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,  “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,  and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.  But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I was stunned to hear that the leaders of Mars Hill Church—a mega congregation founded by Mark Driscoll—decided to cease its operation in response to highly publicized revelations about Driscoll’s questionable conduct. Among other things, Driscoll had the church pay a large sum of money to a marketing firm, so that it can make a bulk order of his book on marriage, to make it appear that thousands of purchases were made in a given week. The strategy worked as the book reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller List in “hardcover, advice, and misc” rankings. But in the following week, his book disappeared from the top 15 list; evidently the hype didn’t translate to more book sales. And, it turns out that this manipulative ploy has been used by other well-known pastors— they probably feel embarrassed seeing their name next to Driscoll, who, since, has admitted to the wrongfulness of this practice.
In light of this, the above parable can be changed to, “Now Jesus told those who wanted to a publish book, when he noticed how they paid money to a marketing firm to make it appear to be a best-seller, ‘JUST WRITE A BETTER BOOK!’ If your book is inspiring or is useful to the readers, then more people will buy it; maybe it will even become a best-seller, but don’t focus on that! Remember, ‘there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known’” (Matt. 10:26).
Inflating our worth, whether it be financial, scholastic, or for some pastors, ecclesiastical (based on how many show up on Sundays), goes on every day. This isn’t primarily a psychological problem (“the empty self”) but profoundly spiritual: Is Jesus truly sufficient for me? Can I walk down a streetful of impressive looking people with my head held up high because “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”?
I experienced this in a weird manner. I don’t own a fancy phone because I don’t need it since I work mostly at home (when not travelling). But I do own a $10 cell phone which I use when I really need it. But once, when I was calling my wife to pick me up at the airport, I felt sort of self-conscious about using this low-tech phone, since everyone around me was using a Smartphone; but, I said to myself, “I need to be real; besides, Jesus thinks I am okay.”
Don’t let anything you buy or try to accomplish replace that which can come only from God. In Christ, we have absolute, unconditional acceptance, regardless of whether we write a bestseller or not, or own a fancy phone or not, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 58-59