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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

Keeping Spirituality Alive SEPTEMBER 23


When you receive an invitation, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he will say, "Come up higher, my friend." Luke 14:10, N.E.B.

Jesus was speaking to men who eagerly grasped at the best places. Half the misery and anxiety in people's lives springs from the exaggerated importance they attach to themselves and continually cherish. These are people with a selfish temperament, who covet earnestly the best scats rather than the best gifts, status with men rather than standing with God.

Most of us proceed from the idea that we live in a society where self-defense is the first law of life, and the second is like unto it-self-assertion. It may just be that Christ's recommendation that we take the lowest place is worth trying.

About forty-five years ago in Oxford, England, there lived a brilliant young university professor, H. A. Hodges, an English don in Balliol College, Oxford's most illustrious school. He was passing through a period of doubt and skepticism. He had spent years arguing the fine points of the Christian religion. Then he experienced a complete change in his life. He himself tells the story. One evening he was walking down the main street of Oxford and happened to pass a bookseller's window. There among the books was a nineteenth century print of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. His eyes were riveted to that scene. A ray of light from the Holy Spirit illumined his mind. It suddenly dawned on him what kind of person Jesus was. Hodges said he knew then that the God of heaven was his footman; all the truth about the Incarnation, the life and death of Christ, came into proper focus.

Do you know what a footman is? Hodges spoke as one familiar with the role of footmen in the great houses of England. The footman is the flunky. He does all the lowest menial duties. Hodges told himself, "If God is like that, He has my life. If God can descend from heaven and become the servant of mankind and give His life for men, I will commit my life to Him." He did just that.

Christ is saying to us, "The best way up is the way down." We are to humble ourselves, accept the low place of service in which our Lord Himself sat.

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