September 22, 2011
Evangelical Leaders not Granted the “Places of Honor at the Table”?
There was some minor buz recently about how evangelical leaders were not invited to participate in 9/11 memorial events.
One was an interfaith prayer vigil at the Washington Cathedral regarding which,
A representative of the Southern Baptist Convention pointed out that the list of prayer participants does not include any evangelicals. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, protested that for a church service, the line-up seemed better suited for a meeting of the United Nations. (ct)
A couple comments are occurring to me after the fact, as is often the case. First, I’m not sure any evangelical leader would want to take part in an interfaith prayer vigil. I would be very surprised indeed if any representative of the SBC or Tony Perkins showed up. And probably rightly so. I mean it’s one thing to have public event and invite people of different religions to speak, or pray or whatever. But an interfaith prayer vigil is a little more loaded with implications, you know?
I’m also curious about the basis for this entire new story. How many people are really complaining here? I don’t see a long list of evangelical leaders chiming in. It might be a bit of manufactured newsworthiness.
Be that as it may, this actually led me to think about something Jesus said,
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “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. 9 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 least important place. 10 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. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11
It makes me wonder at a whole approach to public discourse where people take it upon themselves to affirm their rights, their place, their priority. But Jesus commends a different approach: let people recognize you for what you are worth and let them decide how to place you or seat you or to what event you will be invited. And if you don’t get invited, the teaching would seem to imply, then that’s fine too. God knows who you are. He will take care of you, and you don’t need the recognition of others.
Here’s an irony: that kind of attitude might get you invited to a lot of places!