Sunday, October 12, 2008

Come On In! Everyone's Invited!

We’re all invited to the party. It’s a heavenly party and we’ve been invited because the original guests declined to come. In fact they either ignored the requests or treated the slaves who came with the invitations so badly that the king has invited everyone else. Those of us who wouldn’t have even been considered by any of the original guests if they were hosting the party have been asked to come to the party. We don’t have to do anything special just put on the robes the king has prepared for us when we arrive.
What do you think this parable means? Matthew has Jesus in the Temple teaching. The Pharisees are there and I’m sure this parable was aimed directly at them. God had chosen the Israelites as his people, in fact they are still his people, but they had rejected Him so many times. He wanted them to be able to enjoy the all the riches of heaven but they insisted on turning away from Him.
He sent people to invite them, prophets they either ran off or killed. And so God allowed them to be taken into Exile and then allowed a remnant to return and rebuild the city. But again their hearts were hardened and they refused his gifts and his invitation.
But surely they would honor his invitation to come to the celebration of his Son’s wedding. After all, the Bride was the Church. But they had better things to do.
So friends, that’s how you and I got to be included in the invitation to God’s celebration. There is only one requirement. The king, God, requires us to dress in the proper clothes for the wedding celebration. No worry, he has made all the preparations with the tailor. They are custom made for each of us. The only thing is we have to agree to put them on. If not then we will be thrown out just like the man in the parable.
The suit of clothes God has ready for us are the clothes of acceptance, repentance, and forgiveness. In order to be allowed into the celebration we must accept Jesus as our Savior, repent of our former sinful life; trust in God to cleanse us of our sin, to receive his forgiveness to us for turning our backs on Him so many times. If we do that we are free to come inside and enjoy the celebration with the king’s son and his bride.
That doesn’t sound so hard to do but then why do so few choose to accept the invitation? Probably for the same reasons the original guests turned down the invitation. Their hearts had been hardened by the ways of the world.
The world we live in today that is the things of the world today are insidious in the ways that they attack our hearts and seek to lead us away from the Way of Jesus Christ. There is always something seemingly more important that lures us away from doing the work God has called us to do.
You know how it is. The mission trip the church has been planning for six months is next week but now we have one chance meet our favorite presidential candidate and so we say we can’t possibly go now. And we make all sorts of excuses, none of them really true. But this is a once in a lifetime chance. We can always go on another mission trip. There are always people who need help. After all no one will notice if I don’t go. Isn’t that what we say or think?
We try to rationalize our actions when what we are really doing is turning our back on God’s call to help and listening to the voice of the world. The sad thing is the more we listen to the world’s voice the easier it is to turn our backs on God. Our hearts slowly become hardened to his call and soon we find ourselves outside the party wondering how it all happened. The evil one is sly. There’s no doubt about it.
Many are invited but only a few make it inside. What have you done with your invitation? Are you ready and willing to accept Jesus as your Savior, change your old life for a new life, and receive the gift of God’s forgiveness?
In the words of Paul we heard read today, “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!”
Friends, this is important stuff. Your life depends on it. Don’t lose your invitation. God is calling you to come inside today.

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