It's a Party!
You probably know who the late Carrie Fisher was. Not being a Star Wars fan, I didn’t. When I mentioned her during a recent sermon and said she played Princess Leah I incurred the wrath of every sci-fi fan in my congregation (I didn’t know there were so many of them!). For the record, I now know she was Princess Leia. I also now know there is a massive difference between Leah and Leia.
I knew Carrie Fisher only as an arm chair philosopher. She is reputed to have once said, “The saddest words in the English language are ‘What party?’” The implied answer is, “The one you weren’t invited to.” Hold that thought; we’ll be back in a few minutes.
Long years ago, a couple folks spent their days in the presence of God. Adam and Eve seemingly had it made. Free food and lots of it. No mortgage. No nine to five and no rush hour traffic. Perhaps best of all, I am convinced there were no mosquitoes in Eden! To top it all off, they enjoyed daily commune with their Creator.
One day they were visited by the one Jesus later referred to as the father of lies. What makes a lie a ‘good’ lie is that it must be believable. By that measure the serpent is a great liar! He told Eve that God was just jealous and wanted to deprive her of god-like knowledge. He told her that with just a nibble she could be just like God! Who wouldn’t want to be like God? Further, he assured her she would not die from eating one measly piece of fruit. In effect, he whispered, “I am telling you the truth and the truth will set you free!” Everything he said seemed plausible.
Eve discovered a hard truth: to believe a lie is usually worse than to tell one. When you tell a lie, you know it’s a lie. It is quite the opposite when you believe a lie. What is worse still, you act upon it. You live it. And the consequences can be long-lasting, even eternal. Eve believed the lie. She held the serpent to be more believable than God. She bit.
Through the years we’ve all had similar conversations with the serpent. We feel safe doing so because we’re sure we won’t fall for the same hoax. After all, we’re smarter, more sophisticated. “Others might be that gullible, but not me!” Somehow, we end up just as hoodwinked as our first parents. And we wonder, “How in the world did that happen? To me?”
Sin is the Great Separator, the Great Divider. It separates us from God. It separates us from one another. It wreaks havoc on our identity, separating us even from ourselves.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the serpent, also known as ‘the accuser,’ is always handy to whisper, “You’re a loser, you’re a has-been, you’re all alone. God doesn’t want someone like you. No one does!”
We’ve heard that Jesus died for our sins and that all can be forgiven. But the accuser is relentless. “Yeah, well if you’re so forgiven, why do you still sin? Why do you think God would hold a seat at his table for someone like you? Yeah, there’s a party going on, and you’re not invited. Forget it. You’ll forever be on the outside looking in.”
Sure. We’ve heard God is throwing a party. We even got an invitation. We hear the sounds of revelry. We smell the wonderful banquet. And we choose to not go because we believe what the accuser said, that we forfeited our seat at the table. We believe the lie that it’s all intended for someone else. So we put on a brave face and innocently say, “What party?”
Re-read that invitation. Notice that it came from none other than Jesus. It has your name on it. Do you see it? It says, “Come to me.” That is Jesus-ese for “The preparations are all complete. When you get here, the party can begin.”
What party? Your party!
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3.17)
Jerry has more than thirty years of experience in a variety of pastoral roles, including planting/pastoring several churches. He is also the Founder and Director of Ministry Consulting Group, which focuses on administrative services and leadership coaching for churches and other ministries throughout the United States and beyond. His specialty is church and ministry startups. Jerry and his wife, Jeanie, have five children and a bunch of grandchildren. The entire Stephens clan resides in central Ohio.