School is out, the weather is warm, and the Chick-fil-as are even busier than before. We must be nearing Summer. And as we do, I sat to ponder what my days should look like in this new season. I have several commitments that are just beginning, but also many that are wrapping up. In the next few weeks of transition, I started thinking of some of the bigger occasions that are quickly approaching. Maybe you or your family have some upcoming events as well- graduations, vacations, birthday parties, camps, relatives visiting, and so on. I have one particular annual work commitment that is weighing on me, same as it does every year. In reflection, at least since this will be the 5th year of dealing with it, I now know what to expect. In that 1st year however, I was a wreck. There was lots of paperwork involved, spreadsheets and all the fun business records, and I had no idea what was needed and what wasn’t. I was terrified of lacking the expected documentation, and yet also nervous that perhaps I was providing too much, and subsequently would irritate the person whose charge it was to examine it all.
Thankfully, in our faith, this is a non-issue. We cannot prepare enough, nor would it do any good if we got all of our stuff in order, for the inspection of righteousness. Paul gives his own perspective on this in Philippians 3. Allow me to paraphrase… He was the most Jewishly awesome of any Jew out there. He was born into the right family, received the proper education, he taught others how to be awesome Jews, told off un-awesome Jews, gave the traitor Christians the what-for, and looked awesome doing it. Mic drop. Oh, but wait, then he met Jesus and realized what Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 64:6.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Paul continues his letter to the church at Phillipi saying this:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil 3:7-9)
The beginning of Matthew 22 talks about a parable of a wedding banquet. The king was throwing the banquet for his son, and long story short, none of the invited guests were coming. In fact, they were out and out evil in their response (read it for yourself... their whole villages get burned down), and so the king gave word to find anyone who would come and invite them, both evil and good. And so, the servants filled the halls of the banquet with the next batch of invitees (us), those who missed the first cut (although the king later declares that the first string didn’t deserve to come). Yay! We have been invited into salvation through the righteousness of Christ! Let’s get our wedding party on! But before we throw down to the Christian version of Cupid’s Shuffle, there is one more thing to this story.
Matt. 22:11-14 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
So, yes, we are invited to the party. But so were the others. And we are each responsible for accepting that invitation, regardless of what we have or have not done. But we cannot forget to give the proper respect to the King, dressing appropriately for that which we were called. Christ found us in our filthy rags… but he has given us his Robes of Righteousness. Why would we ever wear anything else?
what is "spark"?
Its a small thing - like the flash on a spark plug that hopefully ignites something bigger to propel you forward.