"Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled’” (Lk. 14:23).
We know that God, the Master, has prepared a great supper. We know the excuses of those on the A-invitation list (Lk. 14:18-20). They’re not coming. Now what? “Go out quickly into the streets and the lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind” (Lk. 14:21). We don’t even think about the B-invitation list, but they’re out there and they’re to be invited. We need to expand our view to invite those we’ve never thought about or even seen before—the C-invitation list. “Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” There are people out there who need compelling. So, are we compelling? I’m going to warn you that you aren’t going to be comfortable with the definition of this word.
Compel: “denotes to put constraint upon, to constrain, whether by threat, entreaty, force or persuasion” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). It’s what Saul of Tarsus did to try to make saints blaspheme (Ac. 26:11). This is an uncomfortable word, and it’s supposed to be. The comfort of the “great supper” servants isn’t the point of Jesus’ parable. The will of the Master and the blessing of tasting the supper is everything. It must be accomplished even when compelling is required.
No, “…the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…” (2 Cor. 10:4). Our weapons are not carnal, but they should be compelling. We do not use terrorism—threats, manipulation, violence, or confusion. We should try to be thoughtful, kind, and tactful. But our eternally vital mission should motivate us to prepare to step outside of the comfort zone of ourselves and others to be compelling.
We must work to improve our ability to be compelling with Scripture. Depending on the situation, we must make compelling arguments from love, grace, history, evidence, etc.—all centered on the revealed mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). It is the greatest story ever! How can it not flow from our hearts to touch everyone and everything around us through our words and actions? If we who have “tasted that the Lord is good” are not more compelling than a TV advertisement or viral video, why would anyone think that what we have is anything special or worthwhile?
We must go “into the highways and the hedges and compel them…” Sharing a few verses on social media won’t do it. What if you had to bring someone to the Lord? I think most of us would understand the motivation of being compelled if we were compelled to compel! We would plead, call in favors, and invite even when we expected rejections. We would intentionally create situations where unbelievers would be around believers. Invitations would be visible to everyone. We would get creative and pushy and annoying. We would talk to strangers, create connections, and risk relationships. Some wouldn’t be comfortable with us and wouldn’t want to be around us anymore. Many would laugh and mock and talk about us behind our backs. And some unlikely, unfound people would fill the house of the Master for eternity.
Our Master says, “Compel them to come in.” As servants, we don’t get to say that we aren’t comfortable with compelling or that it won’t work. We just do it. The awkwardness we suffer is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Compel someone today!