Do you remember the school cafeterias of your childhood? As you think back on that scenario, try to block out the troublesome memories of cardboard pizza and mystery meat. Think about the social drama that played out there. For some it was ‘the best of times’ and for others, maybe ‘the worst of times.’ The big question for many of us was, “do I get to sit at the cool table?” When I was really young, there were a couple things that seemed like an instant ticket to the cool table. If you could get a fresh pair of Reebok pumps or L.A. Lights, you were in!
Looking back, it all seems silly. The strange thing though, is that we never really graduate from the cool table struggle. It just changes; it becomes more complex. You could go through your whole life trying to get or keep a seat at the proverbial cool table. This is an exhausting rat race, and we all find ourselves in it at one time or another. As we mature, the light up shoes are replaced with other things: maybe it’s having the right personality, having that perfect significant other. The path to the cool table becomes more refined, more mature. Eventually we can find ourselves saying, “If I could only have that career, that car… if I could live in that neighborhood… then I’d be set. People would respect me, want me, accept me.”
That all-too-familiar scene of the cafeteria reveals something much deeper: we all long to be accepted and validated. Some may try to ignore that desire, or act like it doesn’t exist. The fact is, the “cool table” struggle reveals a deep desire for acceptance that we all crave.
What if we could be free from this? What if we could go through life confident in what God has given us? Think of how this would free us up to live out the purpose that he has in mind for us. So what’s the key? How do we do that?
Here’s the answer: in Christ, you can be fully known and fully accepted. Through Jesus, you get approval and validation, real love even, from a perfect God. This God knows everything about you, the good and the bad, and you can have a seat at HIS table.
In biblical times, the opposite of being at the cool table was to be a servant, or slave. The servant of a wealthy host wouldn’t even think to ask, “Do I get to sit with them?” The answer was always no.
Right before Jesus goes to the cross, he has a long talk with his disciples to explain everything he’s doing and what it all means for those who trust in him. In John 15:15 he says, “No longer do I call you servants...I have called you friends.” Basically, he’s saying, “You’re in!”
In Galatians 4, Paul goes so far as to say that we’re now treated like sons. The conclusion he draws from this is that there’s no partiality in God’s kingdom. If you’re his, you’re his, and there are no strings attached. He loves us perfectly like a perfect father. Because of what Jesus did in our place, there is nothing we can do to get more approval from God than we already have. We have a spot at his table, and we’re there to stay.
As we grow up and our perspective changes, Reebok pumps and L.A. Lights seem like silly things by which to gauge our self worth. But, if we can grasp our acceptance in Christ, some of the most-desired things of this world will seem silly. Having a seat at his table has an eternal significance that makes even our most grown-up desires seem like silly, light-up shoes.