Thursday, April 22, 2010

Party Animals (2 of 3)

Previously I discussed the attitudes of the Party Poopers to the king's invitation in the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14). Rather than enjoy the king and enjoy the bounty of his provision, Poopers prefer that the attention -- even if it is only their own -- be focused on their work, their labor, their accomplishments.

Once the original guest list no-showed for the king's party, he took a different approach and sent his servants to the street corners to bring in everyone they could find, both "good and bad."

There was apparently no problem in filling the banquet hall with this second group. Always up for a good time, willing to party any time, any where, this second group are the Party Animals.

There will be some holding to orthodox Christianity who suppose it anathema to be considered a "party animal." For many, buttoned-up, straight-laced, reserved, respectable faith avoids any appearance of having fun. Any appearance, that is, except for exuberance of the golf course, football stadium, tree stand, or stock ticker. Yet the Party Animals attending the king's banquet seemed more attuned to the "Christian hedonism" of John Piper than to the stuffed-shirt religion that reserves expressions of joy for socially acceptable occasions.

The Party Animals are actually the least described of the three kinds of people in the parable, and most of what we know about them comes from comparing them to the other two. In contrast to those invited first -- who were "not worthy" -- the Party Animals consisted of those both "good and bad": their "worth" was established by being in the king's presence when called. In contrast to the third group, the Party Animals came to and attended the king's party on his terms, not their own.

Yet no words of approval or praise were afforded the Party Animals. No attention was called to their superior wisdom in attending the banquet rather than roaming the streets. No praise was given their superior intellect in recognizing the value of the offer. No accolades were given for their obedience, or for exercising their will.

In fact, the manner in which Jesus treated this group almost seemed as if he assumed that the duty of those hearing the king's offer was to heed the call. No attention, praise, or accolade was even needed, because for Party Animals the reward is not to be recognized for the excellence of their choice, but the reward is being in the presence of the king.

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