Dinner Parties for Scoundrels and Scalawags…

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?

“Walk straight,
    act right,
        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?

 

12 thoughts on “Dinner Parties for Scoundrels and Scalawags…

  1. “Come just as you are, here the Saviour call” oh what a sweet assurance that dining with Him will surely change our life. I must share this Good News!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I will attend Jesus’s party, as I am among the outcast that He sees fit to enter.
    A clear reminder that know matter your circumstances you can be a guest at Jesus’s table.
    Thanks Pastor Vance for such timely reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am proud to be one of Jesus’s “ragamuffins” (to quote Brennan Manning) and honored to be invited to His party. What’s even more wonderful: I don’t have to leave my brokenness outside the door and pretend to be what I’m not. I can bring it in with me, un-ashamed, where I can be healed by my Host!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love the blog and all the comments! I am left with a question: the initial guests who actually accepted the invitation decided not to go into the banquet. So, what is the difference between accepting and going in? Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great observation! I suppose those who accepted, but did not God, only made a half-hearted acceptance. They didn’t fully, seriously embrace what was being offered. Or, perhaps their acceptance was sincere, but they were lured away by other opportunities. It reminds me a bit of the Parable of the Sower – the seed was sowed on all four soils, but there was varied receptivity. Great question!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Even bikers and pastors? Guess there’s hope for artists and salesmen!
    Seriously, I love this blog entry. Thank you. It is so encouraging, as I fall sadly short of holiness every day. I often say, being at his table would be an indescribable honor, but just to be in his presence I’d be satisfied to stand at the far edge of the crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve reminded me of the Prayer of Access from the older communion liturgies…

      We do not presume to come to this thy Table (O merciful Lord) trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We be not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, in these holy Mysteries, that we may continually dwell in him, and he in us, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood. Amen.

      Liked by 2 people

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