It happens every year at this time, so I shouldn't be surprised...but I always am. Every year, our daughter has a birthday on 11/4, and every year, she wants to invite her friends...A LOT of them! Even though her mom and I have explained that there is a limit to how many friends she can invite, she still starts with a massive list and has to trim it down. I don't know how she picks the lucky winners - maybe they have to sharpen her pencils in class or bring her extra milk at lunch. Maybe she has them run through obstacle courses on the playground or stand on one foot on the bench in the car pick-up line. Whatever method she uses, she has narrowed it down (and there's still a lot of people coming).
Now that my rant is over, I am starting to see how this is a good thing! I love that she has lots of friends and I love that she loves our home and that she wants them to come over and celebrate this day with her. So, this Sunday after church, I will have a baker's dozen of young girls in our home. I'm sure they'll laugh and tell stories and sing "Happy Birthday" and eat cake and drink smoothies and do whatever else they'll do. But if I pay attention to Collins' example, I see an example of what Jesus wants from all of us.
In Luke 14, Jesus went to a party "in the home of a prominent Pharisee", where He did what He came to do: a man was suffering from abnormal swelling and Jesus took hold of the man and "healed him and sent him on his way". This prompted Him to ask some questions and tell some parables about who should be welcome in the Kingdom of God. He went on to tell about a master who invited a bunch of people to a party, and they made excuses about why they couldn't come. The master then invited others - the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. And that's when Jesus said something that made me rethink how I felt about all these girls coming to our house:
"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes [Babson Park] and compel them to come in, so that my house may be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'" (Luke 14:23-24, emphasis mine)
Up until then, I griped and murmured and muttered and complained about opening our home to all of these people. Then I thought about all the people who would be crowding into the kitchen, the volume in the living room, the selfies they'll take, the songs they'll sing...I thought all of these were good reasons to cancel the party. But then I had this thought: what if Jesus did that to people in the parable? And, even worse, what if He did that to me?!?
Years ago, I was living the kind of life that some say should exclude me from being in His house, but He wants His house to be "FULL"...with people like me that weren't like Him (sinful) so we can become like Him (fruitful). I'm thankful that He didn't kick me out and or keep me out of His house. Instead, He went after people like me and now He wants me to do the same. And when you stop and think about it that way, it makes me want to tell everyone that they can be a part of this party...someday! Who are you praying for that you need to invite to His house this week?!?