Written By: Scott Savage
For a lot of us, summer is our favorite season of the year. The days are long, school is out, and we have more time to spend with the people around us. We attend barbecues (or cookouts depending on what part of the country you’re from), watch fireworks, eat many pounds of watermelon, and have awesome conversations.
As followers of Jesus, invitations to these events provide us with incredible opportunities to love people like He did.
You might be surprised to learn that Jesus had a lot to say about how we party. When you consider all that the writers of the Four Gospels could have included in their accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus, the inordinate amount of text they devote to Jesus talking about how we are to live in the context of parties is fascinating. It seems that Jesus presumed that his followers would spend a good portion of their time celebrating with other people.
In light of these teachings, let’s consider how Jesus would show love to the people we’re celebrating with this summer. These three actions provide a good place to start.
1. SERVE HUMBLY
In, Jesus talked about what to do when you're invited to a banquet. He said, “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor … instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table.” Note that he didn't say “if you're invited." He said, “when you're invited,” as if He presumed that we will be invited to parties. At these celebrations, it’s tempting to be the one who watches everybody else do the work or the person who shows up late and leaves early. Yet, the host notices and appreciates the people who also consider how to include everyone in the celebration and who go out of their way to serve.
Whether it's asking if you can bring something, coming early to help set up, or volunteering to stay late and teardown, these simple actions communicate humility and compassion.
2. CONNECT YOUR WORLDS
In , Matthew invited his tax collector friends to meet the other disciples and Jesus himself. The party may have included some awkward moments because when people from different worlds collide, awkward almost always emerges! Honestly, though, the people who make it most uncomfortable can be our church friends who are uncomfortable with people who don’t follow Jesus acting like it.
Regardless, parties are one of the greatest places for us to create a connection between those who need the message of Jesus and those who've already been transformed by it.
3. ANTICIPATE CRITICISM
In , Jesus is referred to as “a glutton and a drunkard.” Jesus must have participated in such environments, or been close to people who were partying, for him to have such a reputation. If you love people this summer by throwing and attending parties, prepare to be misunderstood, questioned, or even judged by those inside the church. Some within the church have adopted the false belief that following Jesus means walking away from those who don’t. However, Jesus was very clear about this precept in where he prayed to His Father, “I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one ... just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.” We are not led out of the world; we are sent on a mission into the world!
As a pastor, I fight a difficult battle. It’s one I see many followers of Jesus become oblivious to and overlook. The trend seems to be that the longer we follow Jesus, the less connected we are to people who don’t. Of course, we are around people from all walks of life when we run errands, conduct business, play sports, and take our kids to events. But, when it comes to those we choose to spend our free time with, the deeper we get involved in our churches, the less we’re involved in our communities.
If that’s you, begin a change this summer. Say yes to every invitation and throw a couple parties of your own. Move the grill from the back yard to the driveway. Shift the portable fire pit from the back porch to the front porch. Rent a projector and screen and invite your neighbors to a movie night - and don’t show The Passion of the Christ!
Serve and love people like Jesus, asking Him to provide opportunities to help people take their next step towards a life-changing encounter with the grace that has so powerfully changed you!
**AUTHOR’S NOTE: I owe a huge debt tos and for helping me to develop a “party theology.” Thank you!
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the parents of three “little savages.” He is the creator of the and you can read more of his writing at