I heard a sermon recently and one part of it really stayed with me. It was not a unique passage, not at all. It was Psalm 23. I think behind John 3:16, Psalm 23 is the most commonly known and quoted section of scripture. For those who don’t watch any movies or have not been to any funerals, here is Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
This is a very famous passage written by King David. The sermon I heard was focusing on the fact that sheep do not strive for anything. Sheep are not remarkable animals; in fact, they are stupid and need a shepherd. The point was that Christians are referred to as sheep in the Bible. This is on purpose. We all need a shepherd. Sheep do not strive for anything, they simply follow and are led by the shepherd. This is true, but not what stuck with me.
What stuck with me is the part where it reads,“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” The speaker mentioned that in the customs of the day, if you are at dinner party, you can stay as long as the host keeps refilling your drink. I did my own research and found similar etiquette in that region of the world and even in the far east. The point is that God, as the host, who prepares a feast for us in the presence of our enemies, keeps filling our cup to the point of overflow. This is why David can follow with the line that he (we) shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
See, not only does God love you, He likes you. Think about this: have you ever had people over and at some point during the evening you just wanted everyone to leave? Well, if you were a party host in ancient Israel, you would let them know by cutting them off and not giving them more to drink. If you wanted all your friends to stay, you would keep refilling their drinks. Obviously at some point you would physically run out of wine, or Pepsi, or whatever you were serving. Well, God never runs out of his wine. He never runs out of it and never stops pouring it. Why? Because you are not an annoying houseguest to God. You are liked!
For those of you reading this who are married, are there any days that you love your spouse, but do not necessarily like them? Well, I’ll be the honest one — yes. God does not love out of obligation and God not only loves you, but He likes you. Many times people will tell me that if they walked into church the ceiling would fall on them. Others feel that they are too bad and screwed up too much for God to love them. Others who may even think of themselves as believers feel that God may love them but that he is some distant cosmic kill-joy who only pays attention to you if you are holier than your neighbor. These caricatures could not be farther from the truth. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die so you and I would not have to. We rejected him over and over, but still He wants to be reunited with us.
Whether you like it or not God likes you enough that He wants you to stay in his house forever. When God invites you to his party, bring your jammies, because you’re not leaving. God wants to be with you forever.
Jesus tells his disciples in the Gospel of John, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” God has plenty of room and plenty of great wine. The table is set and all the invitations have been sent out. Will you RSVP yes? If so, you can be assured that Surely goodness and mercy shall follow [you] all the days of [your] life, and [you] shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.