One human activity that transcends every culture is the Sacrament of Celebration. In every culture sharing a meal brings the potential of ever deepening relationships. I know in the church we talk about the Sacraments of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Marriage. But we rarely talk about Celebration.
From the weekly Sabbath to the Holy Festivals, God ordained Celebration in the Old Testament. A quick read of the Gospels shows us Jesus observing these and other parties. And the book of Acts tells us the earliest followers ate together daily with glad and sincere hearts (Acts 2:46-47).
Jesus’first recored miracle: He turned water in wine at a wedding reception, (John 2:1-12). Later He was accused of being a drunk and a glutton because He partied with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:18-19). He partied with Matthew’s family and friends celebrating Matthew’s call to be a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13). And who could forget Zacchaeus’ party? Zacchaeus had invited all his family and friends. Zacchaeus was so moved by his encounter with Jesus, he publicly declared a changed heart and a promise that backed it up (Luke 19:1-10).
Followers of Jesus need to rediscover the sacrament of Celebration!
Let’s imitate Jesus. Let’s party the way Jesus did it. He partied with His disciples, His family, and with the people who longed for a connection with God. Listen to how the Pharisees described the party attenders: “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” (Matthew 9:11, The Message).
I hear believers say all the time, “I just don’t have unchurched friends anymore.” I have heard statistics that say within 6 months a new Christian has disconnected from all their unbelieving friends. I don’t want to condemn or guilt anyone, but this has to change!
Jesus was sent by His Father into the world to seek and save. He turned around and sends us on the same Kingdom mission. How did Jesus do it? He partied!
Jesus’ simple, strategic plan to save the lost was two-fold:
- Befriend those who needed saved. He didn’t select projects. No one wants to be a project. He was a friend. The natural flow of healthy friendships is that soon my new friends meet the people who are important to me. That would be my family and my LIFE Group (our church’s name for missional communities). And because “I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me” (Galatians 2:19-20), my new friends meet Jesus. And soon they have the opportunity to choose to follow Him too.
- Be their sacrificial atonement for sin. Jesus as the author and perfecter of life showed us how to live the human experience to the fullest. Then after navigating this life perfectly, He laid down His life as a ransom. His death satisfied both God’s justice (because of our sin) and His love for us. Jesus’ sacrifice cleanses us from all unrighteousness making us as white as snow.
Let me suggest three resources for partying like Jesus:
“Matthew Party: It’s Fun, It’s Purposeful & It’s Strategic” free pdf by Tracy Wright (this handout has been influenced by numerous authors).
HAPPY HOUR by Hugh Halter (sold in packs of 5 for $6.99) Recommended. Caveat – serving alcohol at your party is a personal preference; I neither condemn nor condone this practice; follow your conscience (Romans 2:15).
“Hybels on Using Parties for Evangelism” Church Leaders article by Josh Hunt
For personal training on Partying Like Jesus, click: Tracy & Beth Wright