By Pastor Chad Adelmund  Heartland Community Church, La Porte City

God has given us a simple word. And if we learn it, share it, teach it, and live by it, then God is glorified, people benefit, and we fulfill the mission of the church! That’s why we do what we do. That’s the why behind the but. If your BUT is bigger than your WHY, then your BUT is too big!

This is nothing new. Even people in Jesus’ day had BIG BUTS, or big excuses as to why they couldn’t follow Jesus. The question we want to ask ourselves is: When it comes to my Christian life, do I have big buts?

Asking to be excused doesn’t EXCUSE. Like the one reclining at the table with Jesus on that day, we LOVE to celebrate God the Father’s great mercy, His great love, his wonderful invitation to all of us. However, if we’re not careful we can carry this great openness and acceptance into the realm of our obedience to God’s call in our lives. We think we’ll be easily excused. (Luke 14:19, 21 ‘Please have me excused.’ … So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry.”)

Don’t fool yourself into thinking, God will understand. This is a trap we can easily fall into. We never want to be guilty of taking advantage of God’s goodness and grace. We never want to take God for granted. Anytime we find ourselves explaining away our bad behavior to Christ’s CEO role in our life, because God will surely understand my priority with my family? We can read Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” This also may explain for some of us, our reluctance to enter into this daily walk with Christ, where we focus our attention on prayer and reading God’s Word. When we do this, we are continuously confronted with the difference between our own creation of God, and THE CREATOR GOD!

Thinking that God will understand and accept something or a priority different than what is explained in His Word is foolish. This is why Jesus asks us to consider the cost of being his follower, of being his disciple.

God’s Kingdom will be filled with a Misfit crew! Luke 14:21 “[The master] said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’” I like to joke sometimes about Heartland being filled with a misfit group of people. Really, I mean this as a compliment. I love our family here at Heartland because we truly love and accept everyone no matter where you are in life! We do church, for people that don’t do church, and that is because we remember where we were when Jesus found us, and the mess we were! We know we are far from perfect and we don’t need perfect people here, and just between me and you, there are none.

And we learn from the parable that God chooses to have his kingdom filled! And we learn that he chooses those who answer the invitation, over those who look good on the outside. Please note that it’s not just the poor and crippled and blind and lame, but it’s those who were brought in, who followed, who answered the invitation with obedience and presence, rather than with excuses.

When it comes to God’s kingdom, both here on earth, as well as heaven someday, we must constantly remind ourselves that God does not take into account human credentials! God has a whole different way of seeing people than you and I do. We see people and we judge people by what’s on the outside. We find ourselves naturally drawn to the gifted, the talented, the attractive, the successful. All that seems important to us, but not to God, “As for those who seemed to be important … God does not judge by external appearance.” Galatians 2:6. Don’t misunderstand this. It’s NOT that you have to be poor, or crippled, or blind, or lame or unacceptable to today’s society. The point here is that God looks on the inside of a man’s or woman’s heart to see if there is the desire to serve Him more than self.

Ask God to help us. This is a big job both seeing the real condition of our thoughts and then truly doing something about it. And honestly, this is not something that we can do without the power of God’s Holy Spirit working in us. We need to be honest about our desire to change and honest about our inability to make the changes. None of us on our own can take the very natural priority of work (for most men) or family (for most women) and REALLY change those priorities to the Lordship of Christ. We just make excuses to ourselves and to God. However, if we are honest with God about our own inabilities to change and ask Him for His help, He will gladly come in and begin to change us in ways we could never fathom.