Today’s Scripture is Psalm 15:1-3 (NIV),
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others.
Or, the Message version,
God, who gets invited
to dinner at your place?
How do we get on your guest list?
tell the truth.”
Today’s blog post is by Pastor Vance Rains…
I love that question, “God, who gets invited to dinner at your place?”
The Psalmist lists some pretty tough requirements for making the guest list – walk straight, act right, tell the truth, do what is right, speak the truth, don’t slander, don’t wrong your neighbors, cast no slurs.
I’m out. No dinner at God’s place for me.
I get where the Psalmist is coming from. God is holy and God lives in holiness. To stand in God’s presence requires holiness. Over and over, the Bible tells us to be holy – to be perfect as God is perfect. Few of us are.
I’m not. I’m definitely not.
In recent years, Jesus’ Parable of the Banquet has been speaking to me,
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (Luke 14;16-24)
Jesus lowers the standards for dinner invitations significantly. In Jesus’ story, the main focus is not requirements of holiness. In Jesus story, the host just wants his house to be full of guests. EVERYONE is invited; including the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame, even people living in alleys or hiding in the bushes, bikers, pastors, scoundrels, scalawags, etc.. EVERYONE is invited.
I suppose, even Gators and Hurricanes might be allowed in. Maybe…
I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Psalm 15. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of pursuing holiness. But, I’m going with Jesus’ parable, instead. I’m a better fit for that crowd.
The Psalmist implies that in order to gain admittance to the dinner party, you need to have already achieved holiness. Whereas, in Jesus’ parable, the only requirement for admittance is an invitation. And, EVERYONE is invited – even me.
Which makes me wonder – is it possible that, if I have any chance of achieving anything resembling holiness in this life, it will only come as a result of accepting the invitation to Jesus’ party? Perhaps, Jesus’ point is that holiness is a result of dining with him, not a pre-requisite.
As it says in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Who’s ready for dinner?