Alvey: We must be willing to go all in for God

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

By Jack Alvey | Alvey is the rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

This past Sunday we finished up the last of three parables on judgment found in Matthew 21–22.

In the final parable on judgment, — The Wedding Banquet, we find the most terrifying judgment of all  the place of outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The final parable ends with the king throwing the wedding guest, who shows up to the party without a wedding robe, into this proverbial hell.

Interestingly, this place of torment is not reserved for those who reject the invitation of God. This place of hell isn’t even reserved for the “bad” people. Rather, the people who God will judge most harshly are the ones who show up to the party trusting in their own righteousness instead of the righteousness of God.

The person who is judged most severely is the one who comes to the party wearing his own clothes rather than the clothes given at the door by the king.

I guess this might be like the highly recruited starting quarterback who thinks he can call whatever audible he wants to because he thinks he is smarter than the coach.

And I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what the head coach will do to this quarterback. God doesn’t care if you are a one-star recruit or a five-star recruit.

You are invited to join the team. Everyone makes the cut. And your decision to accept or reject the invitation doesn’t stop God from throwing the party. God’s will be done with or without you, Judas or John.

But it does matter how you act once you make the decision to show up. While all are invited to the party, you can only stay if you are all in. You can only stay if you are willing to change into new clothes.

You can only stay if you are willing to take off your own clothes of righteousness and put on the robe of righteousness given by the King of grace and mercy.

Until you are willing to go all in, you must stay on the bench. Until you are willing to give it all to God, you must sit in the dentist’s office where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And it is God’s hope that this reverse psychology, that this hard word of judgment will be revealed as a happy word of mercy where you want to get back in the game and run the plays the God calls, plays filled with humility and mercy and compassion.

May God’s word of merciful judgment give you the grace to stop trying to look good in your own clothes so that you may put on the clothes that God has chosen for you to wear through Jesus Christ, clothes that will never go out of style. Amen.