It arrived by post. I hadn’t ordered it online; I didn’t owe something, no one was selling me what I did not care to buy. This stamped envelope was an unsolicited invitation to a wedding celebration.
Should I accept? Can I accept? Will I accept? Yes to all three. The Rsvp was sent. I was going to a wedding!
Stop a minute. There is more to this than accepting the invitation. The ceremony is on Friday afternoon. I work then. The event is on the other side of Toronto. I don’t know how to get there. I should bring a gift. Not my strong suit. Should I wear a suit? I hope not, but I should get that figured out.
If my present acceptance is going to lead to future participation in the festive nuptials, then I need to live out my Rsvp intentions. If I don’t, the date will arrive and I won’t be ready. My failure to book time off, to locate the venue, and to plan my wardrobe will combine to sideline me from the celebration.
Be Ready To Torch The Celebrations
In Mt 25:1-13 Jesus tells a parable making use of a village wedding ceremony. The attendants of the bride have gathered, waiting for the groom to arrive. When he does he will escort her, accompanied by her friends, to his home. There they will celebrate the wedding banquet. He is a long time in coming; it is midnight when he arrives. The attendants awake and prepare their torches to give light to the procession and the festivities that will follow. But only half of the bride’s friends have brought enough oil for their lamps. The rest did not and thus are not ready; they must first go to buy oil. When they return the door to the wedding feast has closed and they have been excluded from the celebrations. Jesus concludes this parable with these words:
So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return. (Mt 25:13 NLT)
New Life Is Not A Ticketed Event
If we take away from this parable that Jesus desires to shut people out of God’s Kingdom, then we are distorting his words. On the cross, Jesus prayed for his enemies that God would forgive them (Lk 23:34). His heart is not vindictive or capricious but on-mission to reconcile people with a holy God (Jn 3:17).
In this parable, Jesus is urging his followers to be watchful. Good intentions are not the same as faithfulness. Ongoing obedience to the Lord is what demonstrates the sincerity of our relationship to him. It is by heeding our Lord that we show ourselves ready to participate in God’s Kingdom on that day Jesus returns.
Jesus’ invitation to trust in Him must be more than a transaction by which we trade assent for a future ticket to heaven. God’s Kingdom with its power and priorities has entered our lives and is transforming us. We are becoming new creatures, with hearts and minds that are more and more like Jesus’. We make plans and change some so that step by step we are ready to take part in what God is doing now and when His Kingdom comes fully.
What are you doing now that expresses you are a new creation in Christ? What is another step you are ready to take that will lead to good growth in heart and mind?