God’s gift of grace is generously showered upon all, but if we do not receive that grace and allow it to change us, we can miss out on the abundant life of salvation.
Grace is the grace that goes before us, available to all people. Justifying grace is the grace that moves us from our old selves into a new covenant life with God, and sanctifying grace is the grace by which we grow in our Christ likeness.
In this Sunday’s Gospel we will read about a king who invites guests to a wedding banquet, however, the invited guests do not come. God’s grace is not limited to a few. When the guests refuse to appear, the king sends his servants out again; this time, to the edges of the town, to invite anyone and everyone they come across. This broad invitation is a clear example of God’s grace available to all people. The King made no distinction in his invitation; it was everyone ─ evil and good, rich and poor, friend and foe, widow, orphan and outcast. And the people came.
Now, with that in mind, there are two lessons for us. The first is this: even in the “outer darkness,” we are not apart from God’s grace. We may choose to stay in that place or we may choose not to change our lives, or we may backslide, but even still, even though we are stubborn, broken sinners, God in God’s infinite grace will continue to reach out to us, calling us into God’s presence. Whether we choose to respond or not is entirely up to us.
The second lesson is this: If we do choose to respond to God’s invitation of grace, to step through the door into the King’s presence, then it means our lives MUST be changed. Otherwise, we are not better off than when we were standing outside.
Within Christ’s church, there are those members like the ones in the parable who refuse the invitation from God in one way or another. They want the safe, soft side of discipleship, but they shy away from the more difficult work of outreach and social justice. They want blessings from God, but they cannot be found when it is time to share in the work of ministry. They can always be counted on to share in a free dinner at the church, but they are not willing to serve a meal to those who are hungry or hand out a bag of groceries at a food Pantry. They want peace on earth, but they do not want to work toward that end. They want to end world hunger, but they do not want to miss a meal themselves or make a contribution to work toward that end.
Living in God’s presence means living differently. The invitation has gone out. The question is not whether you can manage to fit this ask into your schedule ─ and your life, because this IS life. This is about living in God’s grace. This is about a new life through God in Christ Jesus, and how we respond makes all the difference!