Undeserving Losers Welcomed to the Party

 
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When we walk into a church, what do we think? Do we think we deserve to be here? Do we deserve what's about to come at us? Do we comprehend what the Church is all about? Or are we humbled by the reality that we don't deserve to be here?

When we listen to Jesus' parable of the wedding feast (Matt. 22:8-9), that's exactly what we are walking into. We don't deserve to be in Church. We don't deserve to be at the wedding feast of the Lamb. That's the point of Jesus' parable. We're invited to the party, even though we don't deserve to be there. In relation to God, we old Adam sinners are unpardonable. We are unacceptable. We are untouchable. We are losers and, for Jesus, that means we are just the kind of person He wants to be seated with Him at the wedding feast. We don't deserve to be here, and that's exactly how God's grace works.

Jesus doesn't invite us into His Church because we are well behaved. He doesn't invite us in because we are well groomed, well dressed, or put together. He doesn't invite us to the party to be the life of the party. He takes the initiative. He calls and gathers us in. He dresses us in the water-soaked clothes of His baptismal grace. He gives you food and drink. He makes sure everything is ready for you before you even get here. For misbehaving you, that's the only way you are getting into the wedding feast.

There's nobody at the wedding feast who deserves to be here. There's nobody at the table who's not a black dog. There's nobody who shows up that's not at least a two-time loser. That's why everyone at Jesus' party wears the baptismal clothes He gives to them. He dresses us in the forgiveness of sins. He gives it all to us because we bring nothing that's of use to Him for this party. And, if there's anybody who doesn't like this (Jesus says), he can literally get the hell out.

Nobody is going to crash Jesus’ wedding feast. Jesus is throwing the only party in town worth attending, and it’s going to be a celebration.
— Donavon Riley

Nobody is going to crash Jesus' wedding feast. Jesus is throwing the only party in town worth attending, and it's going to be a celebration. No wet blankets allowed. Outside Jesus' wedding feast, there are a lot of sore losers who refuse to put on Jesus' baptismal grace. There are a lot of people who see themselves as victims and who embrace self-pity and blame. There are a lot of people who don't know how to have fun. There are too many people who refuse to enjoy what Jesus gives to them: people who can't make a joke, take a joke or laugh at a joke. They can't because they sit among the damned, in the gutter, complaining, blaming Jesus for their refusal to wear what's given to them (for free) for the wedding feast.

Jesus says those people deserve to be in the Church, but they refuse the invitation. One had to go take care of his farm. Another had some stuff to sell. Others were too busy shooting the messenger. That's why Jesus invites people who don't deserve to be here to the party. That's the point of Jesus' parable. We are invited to the party, even though we don't deserve to be here. In relation to God, we old Adam sinners are unpardonable. We are unacceptable. We are untouchable. We are losers and, for Jesus, that means we are just the kind of person He wants to be seated with Him at the wedding feast. We don't deserve to be here, and that's exactly how God's grace works.

We are here because Jesus' invitations were ignored. People who deserve to be at the party made excuses for why they are not in the Church. But, the party will happen, and Jesus will fill every seat at the table. That's why we are at the wedding feast, all us unpardonable, unacceptable, untouchable losers who are now having the time of our lives feasting, and singing, and celebrating with Jesus.

We celebrate the absurd fact that “undeserving us” is in the wedding party, with Jesus, dressed in God’s water-soaked baptismal grace.
— Donavon Riley

Outside His Church, it's a dog eat dog world where a lot of people prefer to play the victim. People who embrace self-pity and blame. But, seated with Jesus at His table, the party goes on. And when we go out, we go out wearing the water-soaked clothes of God's baptismal grace. We go back to our farm dressed in God's baptismal grace. We pay our bills dressed in God's water-soaked baptismal grace. We live, and move, and laugh, and celebrate the absurd fact that “undeserving us” is in the wedding party, with Jesus, dressed in God's water-soaked baptismal grace. “Unpardonable us,” is given pardon and peace. “Unacceptable us,” is accepted and loved. “Untouchable us,” is embraced in God's unbreakable, baptismal bear hug. We are the undeserving losers who are declared winners in Christ Jesus, today and always.

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Manager for Higher Things, a contributing writer for 1517, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. He is also the co-host of The Banned Books podcast and the As Lutheran As It Gets podcast.



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