Monday, August 15, 2005

Farewell talk

We have all been invited to come home to our Father in Heaven.  Scripture likens the event to a wedding feast.  Our Brother is getting married, and we’ve all received invitations to the reception.  It will be held at the classiest reception hall in all the world, and (knowing that we could not possibly afford to pay our own way) He has paid the price required for each of us to come.  But there are still things that we have to do in order to come.


First, we need a wedding gift.  What has Jesus asked us to bring him?  Only a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  This is not just the best thing we can offer; it is the only gift that is acceptable to Him.  It is not expensive, and it is something that everybody in the world can give, if they are willing to.  If you don’t show up with this gift all wrapped up and ready to give, you won’t be allowed in.


Next, we need something to wear.  The dress code is something like “all white,” so you’d better not show up in street clothes.  For that matter, you’d better make sure that you’re bathed and that your clothes are clean.  These are things that he told us to do.  Too many people figure, “Hey, this is my brother.  He loves me.  He’ll let me in no matter how I come.”  The fact is, if you love Him, you will surely want to do these things that He has asked of you.  You can do all that you want that you think will make Him happy, but why not just do what He has asked you to do?  Parents, what if you told your kids that they can go to the movies if they clean their room, and when you ask them later whether they’re finished they say, “Look, I drew a picture for you!”?  You would certainly appreciate the gesture, but the child still wouldn’t be able to go to the movies.  Or if you tell your babysitter that you’ll pay her extra if she can have the dishes done and the kids in bed by the time you get home, and when you come home to a full sink and kids running around, she says, “I did some laundry.”  Believe me, God appreciates everything you do for Him, but if you can’t obey the most basic, simple things that He has asked of you, you cannot expect him to give you the rewards that he promised conditionally.


You can call Jesus Brother, and you can call Him Lord, but He has said:


21 ¶ Not every one that asaith unto me, bLord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that cdoeth the dwill of my Father which is in eheaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not aprophesied in thy name? and in thy bname have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never aknew you: bdepart from me, ye that work ciniquity.

24 ¶ Therefore whosoever aheareth these sayings of mine, and bdoeth them, cI will liken him unto a dwise man, which ebuilt his house upon fa rock:

25 And the arain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and bbeat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a crock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a afoolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that ahouse; and it bfell: and great was the fall of it.


Finally, we need to get there.  We’ve been given the address, and we’ve been given the map, but for some reason, this may be the most difficult task for us. 


For one thing, men are notorious for refusing to ask directions.  If we think we’re going the right direction, we’ll often refuse to even look at the map.  The problem with this is that we’ve been told there is only one route to the reception hall.  Even if it feels like you’re going the right way, if you’re on the wrong road you will eventually have to backtrack to the point where you left the given route.  The farther you go on the wrong road, the longer it will take you to get back.  Sorry, but that’s just the way things work.


Beware the temptation to follow the crowd.  I read a book recently where the main character’s primary navigational method is to find somebody who looks like they know where they’re going and follow them.  He rarely gets to where he was trying to go this way, but he often ends up being exactly where he needs to be.  There’s only one problem: the book is a satirical work of fiction.  Real life doesn’t work that way, as much as we want it to.  It’s so tempting to say, “Look, everybody else in the world is invited to the same party I’m invited to.  If I just find someone who looks like they know where they’re going, I’ll get there just fine.  But we’ve been warned that many, many people will not get there, and this is far too important to risk following somebody who is just following somebody, who is following somebody who felt really lucky to have found a nice wide road that’s less crowded than the one they were on.


The trip is much easier if you can pair up with a companion.  This way, one person can navigate while the other is driving.  The passenger can also help to make sure the driver isn’t falling asleep.


It is okay to show up early and over-prepared, but whatever you do, don’t show up late. Consider Luke 13, verses 24-27:


13:24 “Exert every effort82 to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 13:25 Once83 the head of the house84 gets up85 and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and start to knock on the door and beg him, 'Lord,86 let us in!'87 But he will answer you,88 'I don't know where you come from.'89 13:26 Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.'90 13:27 But91 he will reply,92 'I don't know where you come from!93 Go away from me, all you evildoers!'94


Now I’m going to go out there and deliver some invitations.  I hope you’ll consult your maps, the scriptures, carefully, and that you’ll exert every effort to enter through that narrow door on time and well-prepared.  I’ll see you there. 


God be with you till we meet again.


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