There’s a parable that Jesus told about a great wedding feast. The man throwing the party invited all of these people to come and celebrate with him, but they made a bunch of excuses as to why it wasn’t a convenient time for them to come. So the master told his servants, “‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23)
There are lots of things in that parable worth talking about, but the thought struck me recently: God loves a full house!
I don’t want to over-emphasize (no pun intended) the importance of the size of any group gathering in Jesus’ name. Jesus said that two or more can gather and he will be there. But as a leader of groups of people (i.e. church services) I have this problem of looking at the numbers. If lots of people come to worship it makes me happy, and if fewer people show up I tend to be less happy.
There are lots of things at play here and I have to admit that my motivation for wanting a full house isn’t always a noble one. I sometimes want to feel more justified in my preparation, or perhaps I just like the way that it sounds when I full room sings.
But regardless of the selfishness tainting this desire, I really do think that at its core it is a godly one.
Jesus wants his house to be full! This is true in heavenly sense and I think it also applies to worship.
One of my favorite quotes is by archbishop William Temple:
“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.”
Worship really is the thing that we were created for, the thing that God wants us to be occupied with for eternity! And of course I don’t mean singing or sitting through an eternal church service, but worship, the submission of all that we are to God and finding in him our deepest joy and satisfaction.
So let me encourage you with this: When you find yourself wishing God’s house was full, use it as fuel for the fire of prayer instead of just dismissing it. When we are motivated by a jealously for God’s house, by zeal for his glory and a conviction that he is the greatest, the desire for people far and wide to come and experience him is a really good desire.
Keep praying, keep working, and don’t give up. There are LOTS of people out there who need to find a place in God’s house!