Thursday, April 29, 2010

Party Crashers (3 of 3)

If the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14)describes those who refuse the king's invitation as Party Poopers, and those who attend under the king's terms as Party Animals, then the one who attends but gets kicked out is the Party Crasher.

This guy, like the rest of the Party Animals, was apparently willing to attend the wedding feast at the king's invitation on short notice, and as the "scabs" of the social order: they were, after all, the king's second choice.

But the king spotted a problem. This guy was not wearing the right clothes. Instead of letting him go outside and change, or providing a tie for him to wear like the best restaurants do, the king ordered him bound and removed. And, not only that, he was cast to the outer darkness where there is a weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Hollywood starlets -- left off the invite list for the must-see party -- might feel like weeping and gnashing, but I suspect that the fate suffered by this Crasher is much worse.

In response to the king's actions we immediately cry "Not fair!" and suggest that the king was a clothing bigot or woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

But this was likely the situation in which the host provided the proper garments, and the Crasher preferred to wear his own. Even if not, the Crasher chose to attend the party on his own terms, not on conditions set by the host.

We tend to believe that invitation to God's kingdom eliminates any further conditions. But as the parable demonstrates, even those invited cannot come in contradiction to the conditions set by God. That is, we cannot enter the kingdom wearing our own clothes. God provides everything for our participation in the banquet: food, entertainment, drink...even the very clothes that we wear.

Jesus dealt with Party Crashers when he told those who claimed to have done great things in his name "Depart from me, I never knew you" (Matthew 7). He encountered the same attitudes when he told one would-be party-er to sell his possessions and give all to the poor, when he told another to "let the dead bury the dead", and yet another that "no one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

When we prefer our own accomplishments (like the Party Poopers), or prefer our own covering (like the Party Crasher), we have no place in the king's banquet.

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