Kingdom of God - You Need to RSVP

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 24, 2014 3 comments

by Logan Ames

Editors Note: Just a reminder as you read this blog post, The Kingdom of God is not a place, an institution or a program. The Kingdom of God is a mindset, it’s a spiritual awakening, it is a lifestyle. Part of the RSVP that Logan is writing about that we need to accept, in this post is deciding to live out the Kingdom here on earth. Here and now. You Need To RSVP! Thanks for reading!

If you’ve ever received any type of formal invitation to any party or event, you probably saw somewhere on it a request for you to “RSVP”. Those letters are an abbreviation for a French phrase that I’m not even going to begin to try to spell or pronounce, but it will suffice to say that it essentially means, “Let us know whether or not you are coming”. Receiving the invitation is a big deal, but it’s not enough to get you into the party. Some action is required on your part. If you choose not to respond but show up anyway, there may not be room for you and you might be taking a spot away from someone who did RSVP. This probably won’t make the one who sent out the invitations very happy. If you say you are coming and then don’t, there might be an empty seat and whatever cost has been put forth on your behalf is wasted.

Matthew tells the story of one of Jesus’ parables in which he taught the chief priests and Pharisees (aka the most self-righteous people around) that “the kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son” (22:2). The “kingdom of heaven” is the phrase used all throughout Matthew because the Jews (Matthew was a Jew and also wrote primarily for a Jewish audience) considered the name of God so sacred that they felt it was wrong for mere men to even mention it. Keep in mind that Jesus is talking directly to Jews who thought they were better and more deserving of God’s favor than Gentiles simply because of their obedience to the Law. While they were wrong to think they were more deserving, the rest of the parable and many other Scripture passages certainly show that they were the first to be invited to the king’s wedding banquet.

I encourage you to read and study the rest of this parable in Matthew 22:1-14 because it is so rich. For now, I will point out some key parts that I happened to see. The king sends out the original invitations and then sends servants to those who had been invited, but they refuse to come to the party. The king, who longs to have them join him for the feast, sends more servants, this time to advertise that the “dinner is prepared and the oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered” (v. 4). Again they simply have to respond and come, but again they refuse. This time, several of the invited guests simply ignore the servants while the rest of them “seize, mistreat, and kill them” (v. 6). The king is obviously enraged and deploys an army to take out those who had tortured and killed his servants. Then he tells his living servants that the invited guests “did not deserve to come” and orders them to “go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you can find” (vv. 8-9). Eventually, the party is completely filled with guests from the street, “both good and bad” (v. 10).

You might be wondering what the meaning of this parable could be. I’d like to share what I believe God has revealed based on context and the surrounding parables. The “king” is of course our Father in heaven and the wedding banquet is heaven itself where we can celebrate with our Father forever. The invited guests are the Jews, the very people to whom Jesus is talking. The fact that they are invited first does not mean they are favored. What it means is that they were the first to know about the banquet. They were foretold of the kingdom that would come through the Messiah in the Old Testament and by the prophets, then were told by Jesus himself. But what was their response? They persecuted the prophets and then killed Jesus. All they had to do was RSVP to the greatest party of their lives, but they chose instead to mistreat those God had sent to them. This shows that they didn’t take the “king’s” invitation seriously and did not believe there would be consequences for their actions. They were wrong.

The consequence for not accepting God’s free invitation and for harming his servants was death! Their places at the banquet were taken by those off the streets who didn’t receive the initial invitations. The meaning of this portion of the parable can best be described by Paul’s words in Romans 1:16. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile”. The description of “good and bad” people isn’t about how Jesus himself viewed them. He was talking to Pharisees who believed they were “good” and Gentiles were “bad” and “unclean”. His point here was that they would be surprised to find that heaven would be filled with BOTH Jews and Gentiles, including those who did things they thought for sure would keep them out. At the end of the day, all that truly mattered was whether the invitation had been accepted, and those on the streets jumped at the chance to leave their present circumstances and join the king at his banquet table.

The Pharisees’ problem, like many today who “grow up in the church”, was thinking their spot at the banquet was set no matter how they responded to the invitation. The hard truth is that whatever you think you’ve done to DESERVE a place with the king, you’re wrong. The end of the parable explains that a man is at the banquet who is “not wearing wedding clothes” and cannot answer as to how he got into the party (vv. 11-12). The king orders him to be “tied hand and foot and thrown outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 13). Symbolic of the Pharisees and Jewish chief priests, the man was still clothed with his own self-righteousness and not the righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus. The other guests could have said they got in because of Christ and Christ alone, but this man had no answer. His self-righteousness might not have been able to be seen by the other guests, but it was noticed immediately by the KING when he walked into the party. The man’s consequence was eternal separation from God, which would always come with unimaginable sorrow and hopelessness. Whether you’ve grown up in a Christian home or not, please heed Jesus’ warning in this parable. He told it to the very people who needed it most. He did it out of love, not condemnation. Many in the Church need this warning today. Your good works alone will never earn you a spot in the “banquet”. You need to RSVP – and stick to it!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Guess that kid whose first words were Hare Krishna and grew up never hurting a fly preaching love and peace until the day he died is going to hell for never worshiping Jesus.

But of course Fred Phelps is getting a seat at the head of the table for all that work he did to bash gays because the Bible says to.

Then again he's probably small potatoes since he didn't kill any non-believers as the Bible tells you to.

All those starving kids in Africa that have no clue about God because they've never been given a Bible? Guess they get to line up outside the gates and hope for some more scraps from the penultimate feasting occurring inside.

Logan said...

Anonymous,

First of all, feel free to tell us who you are rather than remaining "anonymous". You have made a lot of comments and we want you to feel free to stand by them. Even though you think we are nothing but a bunch of judgmental fools, we certainly do not and will not judge someone who wants to discuss truth, even if your beliefs and opinions are different from ours.

Secondly, I'm really wondering if you even took the time to read my post or if you just scammed it and then spewed your thoughts that come from your past dealings with Christians who talk about faith and the afterlife. I say this because your comments certainly don't reflect an understanding of what I wrote. The kingdom of God is not just about the afterlife, it's also about how we live on this earth. The "accepting of the invitation" is not about some random prayer or decision moment. It's about our actions in this life, particularly after we've come to an understanding that Jesus is both Savior and Lord. How we respond to that realization is what determines the direction for our carnal lives as well as our afterlife!

With that, I'll address your specific comments. Regarding the peace-loving kid going to hell for not worshiping Jesus, I am not the one saying who gets into heaven and who doesn't. God ALONE is Judge, and the passage I discussed in this blog is directly from the words of Jesus himself. I can only deduce from Jesus' words that what matters is whether or not we RSVP to the invitation that ONLY comes through him, meaning it cannot come through good deeds, from being a self-righteous Jew (which is specifically the type of person the passage is targeting), or from simply going to church and saying the sinners' prayer.

You talk about Fred Phelps as if he's on OUR side. That shows just how much you are judging us without even knowing us. I don't think there's been anyone else in the last 10 years or so that has made me madder than Fred Phelps has. If you truly read this post, you'd understand that Fred Phelps and those who follow the teachings of the Westboro Baptist Church would be most closely identified with the people who were thrown OUT of the wedding feast. The self-righteous Jews were the ones who didn't receive the Prophets or Jesus because they preached love for all mankind and "hung out with sinners". These Pharisees had an agenda and their agenda was hatred toward the "unclean" Gentiles. The message of Jesus was to reach out to those who don't know him and give them an opportunity to accept his truth. The Pharisees rejected that message and persecuted all who taught it and lived it. Their penalty was to be excluded from the feast, while the very people they persecuted and tried to keep away are the ones who ended up getting in, because they accepted the invitation through Jesus!

Logan said...

(Continued from previous comment)

That leads me to your statement about the Bible saying to bash gays and kill non-believers. Where in the Bible would you find such statements? If you find something I haven't, please let me know. I can't say I have every single verse memorized, but I'm 99.9% certain the Bible doesn't say either of those things and I've been reading it for a long time. Again, that statement shows you are judging us or me based on what you have unfortunately heard from other so-called Christians. In the very passage this blog is about, God invites those who had been sinners and probably even non-believers to join him at the wedding feast, because all that matters is how they RSVP to that final invitation. While we believe the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin, remember that Jesus hung out with sinners. He went to their homes. He invited them to follow him. The Bible commands us to treat gays and any other sinners the same way Jesus has treated us, WITH LOVE. Jesus died for my sins and has invited me to abandon them and follow him. He extends that same invitation to gays and anyone else. He also extends it to those who don't believe. When you say the Bible tells us to kill non-believers, I think you may be confusing it with a book from another popular religion.

Finally, you bring up the kids in Africa "that have no clue about God because they've never been given a Bible". Well, that's why Jesus commanded his followers to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18). We have a mission on this earth to reach those places with the same gospel message I talked about above. Whether or not those children or anyone else has had a fair chance to know and understand that Jesus is Lord and Savior is not for you or I to judge, but only for God alone. So if you're implying that we are saying those kids will go to hell, you couldn't be further from the truth.

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope that I have cleared up some things for you. Your discussion and comments are always welcome. God bless!