Who Let You In Here?

Who Let You In Here?

This week’s passage is the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. Common interpretations of this passage always felt kind of escapist to me. A single attendee in the parable just isn’t fittingly dressed, and he gets thrown out on his ear? I happened to grow up in a Christian community that believed you dressed your best for Church, because you were showing up “for God.” Although I don’t remember any sermon in particular, I’m quite certain at least one preacher connected dressing well on Sunday morning to this parable in Matthew 22!
There’s an aspect here that is specific to Matthew’s telling of the parable (not reflected in Luke 14 or Gospel of Thomas 64). Specifically, the Bible characterizes the commoners invited to the King’s banquet as both good and bad. This could simply be an explanation for why someone inside the banquet hall might be judged as “unworthy.” It might suggest that the invitation to the Kingdom of God is open to everyone. There might still be more going on here.
As protestants, we believe that faith alone is required for salvation. Yet we simultaneously believe that the Fruits of the Spirit are tangible evidence in the life of a believer. (Galatians 5:22-25) Perhaps this parable speaks less about admittance and more about continuance. As we respond to the Spirit working within us, a natural outgrowth is evidence of that regeneration. Thus the removal of the guest in this parable is not an occasion to thank God we are “safe.” Rather it calls us to reflect on how we respond to the Spirit’s work in our lives today.

Matthew 22:1-14 (NRSV)

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Consider these questions:

  1. How do we let people in to Christian community? And how do we shut people out?
  2. Which aspect(s) of Christianity make it challenging for you to practice being a Christian?
  3. In what ways have you or your friends struggled with imposter syndrome in your faith?

One Comment

    David DeBus

    Which aspect(s) of Christianity make it challenging for you to practice being a Christian?
    A recent poll (Gallup?) tried to get at public perception of Christians. A preponderance believe that Christians are hypocrites. This gets in the way. The blind dogmatism of some of our evangelical non-denom and conservative Catholic siblings leads away from the welcoming I feel from God’s kingdom here and now.

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