The invitation arrives! It’s the event of a lifetime! The flowers will be exquisite; the decorations impeccable; the ceremony, both beautiful and inspirational; and the food unlike anything ever prepared before. While some women are out buying a new outfit with the perfect pair of shoes, I am would be trying to find a way to dress up a pair of yoga pants and call it good enough. (Of course, I never actually would arrive like that, but don’t think it doesn’t cross my mind!)
In Matthew 22, we find a celebration just like I described above. Absolute perfection, hosted by the king himself. He starts by inviting his specifically chosen ones. They not only turn down or ignore the invitation but even go so far as to harm the servants delivering the messenger! So, the king opens the invitation to everyone. Any walk of life is invited. It doesn’t matter what your past is or what your present looks like.
YOU are invited!
With one catch.
You have to present yourself prepared to attend the wedding.
One guest showed up in their proverbial yoga pants. Once the king spotted him he was tied up and thrown out into the darkness.
We have received the invite in all of our undeserving selves. We are the street people, the lowlifes, the unworthy and yet, THE KING deemed us worthy of the welcome.
But, God is not looking for a pretty dress. In fact, he is not looking at any external adornment, but what we clothe our hearts and souls with instead.
The “clothes” we must wear is Christ as Paul explains in Galatians 3:27. Just as our wardrobe is used to cover our naked selves, Christ covers our sinful selves. When we are clothed with Christ, that is what God sees, not the sinful man hidden behind.
According to Paul, the act that is required to wear Christ is that of baptism. Romans 6 explains that as we are immersed, we are immersed into Christ’s death where our sinful selves are put to death. When we rise, we are no longer our own. Verses 12-13 go onto say:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Unfortunately, we do not get to die in that moment to our sinful desires. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful to never be tempted again!) But, those lusts bubble under the surface always needing to be disciplined. Although they are there, we have to choose not to give into them. Moment by moment, we have to choose to let Christ reign.
I am a Bible verse underliner and few chapters have more attention in my Bible than Colossians 3. Paul lays it out so plainly, simply and beautifully how this happens.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. -Colossians 3:1-4
When we are raised up with Christ, we are clothed by him. Our life is hidden with Christ.
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality , impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian , Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. -Colossians 3:5-11
This is quite a list and it I love it because it is more relatable to everyday temptation. I don’t struggle with what society would deem “big sins”. I pretty well follow the laws of our nation (except maybe that speed limit one -it’s a work in progress!). But, Paul gets to the heart of the day to day temptations that we face.
Recently, I had to address a tenuous situation, which I tried to do with as much gentleness and compassion as I could, but the response was very rude. A part of me wanted to blast it to the world, to show what this person’s true colors were because I was so angry with their response, but, in keeping with Paul’s words, I cannot respond in anger or act with malice. Two wrongs don’t make a right. What Paul lists simply is very hard in actual situations.
He goes on to list the characteristics we are to be cloaked with instead. To me, these are what make the clothing of Christ apparent.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Again, words listed so easily, but anything easy to practice. Somedays, I feel like I should print them up and hang them on my wall as a constant reminder of the characteristics I should be attempting to practice. My sinful nature sometimes bubbles through and my responses look more like the list in verses 5-11 than 12-17.
THE KING has invited us to the feast, regardless of our past, regardless of our present. It does not matter what walk of life you came from or are currently living. If you are willing to die to self and wear the wedding clothes of Christ instead, you are welcome. Paul explains what the adornments look like, beautiful and pure.
All you have to do is be willing.