The Wedding Robe: Grace and Participation

A reading for Thursday, July 3, 2014: Matthew 22:1-14.

"When the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe..."

Charles Spurgeon said, "he came only in appearance, he came not in heart."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

The Kingdom of God is one of mercy and grace, where all are invited to come in, the "good and the bad" as the parable indicates. It's easy to misunderstand that this means nothing is required of us by the Kingdom. It's cheap grace.

Truth is, all are invited and all are welcome. There is nothing we can do to gain an invitation to the banquet. But when we show up, there is obligation to remain and participate. There is sacrifice. There is at the very least acknowledgment of the presence of God (the king) by acting and I guess dressing appropriately (the wedding gown). Relationship of any kind depends on both parties participating, and the same is true about our relationship with God and with God's people.

This weekend is July 4th, and I would never be so naive at best and arrogant at worst as to compare the United States to the Kingdom of God. Still some of the same principles apply. All are welcome. As a father of two internationally adopted children I know how much of a gift US citizenship is. Truth is I also know that gift has obligation too.

Citizenship requires participation. It requires not just appearance in enjoying all we have as citizens, but also giving of ourselves, our gifts, and our responsibility to others. Perhaps this is what makes our nation great. The mercy and grace that everyone be included perhaps like no other nation on earth, and the responsibility that everyone participate at a high enough level to sustain us. Without both, we cannot be all we could be as the United States of America.

Happy July 4th! Thank you God for our freedom and our nation.


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