“I worship God in my own way,” say many people these days as a justification for not following Jesus and being devout in a faithful commitment to obey the teachings of the Bible. This is nothing new. Matthew 22:1-14 contains a parable of Jesus regarding the kingdom of heaven being like a king who wants to throw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants out to hand deliver invitations, but those who received them refused to come. The king entreated them by saying that he’d already made all the preparations. Food was ready, things were purchased, and the banquet lacked only people to attend it. The king even said, “Please come.” Nevertheless, excuses were offered, and the invitations were ignored. Whatever the intended guests deemed more important was what they pursued.
The king did not want to waste the banquet, so he told his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” Anybody who wanted to come was welcomed, and the banquet hall was finally filled. Then the king entered the hall and discovered a man there who was not dressed appropriately for the occasion. The king asked the man how he’d gotten in without being properly dressed. The man had no answer. The king ordered the man to be bound and thrown out “into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Right after this shocking statement regarding the fate of the inappropriately dressed man, Jesus summed up the parable by saying, “For many are invited (to the kingdom of
heaven), but few are chosen.”
The king in the parable represents God, and the wedding banquet represents the blessed culmination of God’s work to save souls and prepare them for eternity. The Son is referencing Jesus whose bride is the Church. The invitations are the good news of the gospel inviting every person to believe in Jesus to be saved by grace through faith and obey God’s commands out of love powered by faith in Christ. The people who rejected the invitations represent everyone whose desires are more important than God’s grace. Certainly, there is a reference here to the Jewish religious leaders who thought they had God in a box, but they are not alone. When God’s invitation to believe in Jesus and live as His disciple comes, most people reject it in one way or another. They offer many excuses, but the truth is they don’t really respect God. The improperly dressed man answered the invite by wanting to eat at the banquet but did not care enough to dress respectfully toward the host and the occasion. This man represents those who want to believe in Jesus enough to get into heaven but not enough to live and worship God in the ways God desires. Those who say to God, “I worship God in my own way,” are really saying to God that their will and preferences are of greater importance than God’s will and preferences. This is the same thing as idolatry and rebellion. Both are sins of such great weight as to assure that such persons will wind up spending eternity in hell if they do not repent and let God change them. One who is invited and chosen by God accepts God’s invitation to forgive his/her sins and who then surrenders her/his life in obedience to the will of God, following Jesus and being part of the Church, the bride of Christ. One who is invited but rejected is anyone who wants just enough of Jesus to get into heaven but not enough to bring about any change or inconvenience to his/her will and preferences. Do you worship God, or do you worship in your own way? The two do not mix. I hope and pray that you accept Christ’s invitation and worship God according to the teachings of the Bible. I want to see you in heaven, but before that, I’d love to see you in church.
Contact Pastor Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org.