Saturday, April 30, 2005

But they made light of it...

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
This would be a nice, feel-good parable about a king who invites "both good and bad" to his son's wedding feast, except that the point of the parable doesn't allow such a happy reading.

All too often Christians have read this as a parable spoken against the Jews and announcing the passing of the kingdom to the gentiles. But surely we can't read it that way today.

Hear then the parable. "Again he sent other slaves, saying, '...Come to the wedding banquet.' But they made light of it and went away." Surely this is a picture of Christianity today. I don't mean our nominally Christian society and the way it is becoming secular. I also don't mean the people who show up at church most Sundays but don't really give it a lot of attention. I mean those of us (and I definitely need to include myself in this) who consider ourselves to be serious Christians.

They went away "one to his farm, another to his business." OK, so hopefully we're not beating and killing God's servants, but how many of us never prioritize our jobs over the kingdom of God?

I don't really know where the right path is here. Coming from the Lutheran tradition, I have a strong doctrine of vocation to draw on that tells me the my job can be part of the kingdom of God. But all too often I feel like that's just rhetoric to help me feel better about my life, to maintain the status quo. It has the feel of "the system" co-opting religion for its own purposes.

But beyond that, I know there are times when my focus is just on making a living, times when I have most definitely turned my focus away from the kingdom of God and gone about my business.

Honestly, I need to not be too hard on myself. If I find myself in this parable, I'm probably not in the first group that refused the invitation to the wedding feast. I probably belong to those ("both good and bad") who were found on the street and invited to the feast and who went when invited. But am I wearing a wedding robe?

John Henry Newman once said, "The aim of most men esteemed conscientious and religious, or who are what is called honourable, upright men, is, to all appearance, not how to please God, but how to please themselves without displeasing Him. I say confidently,—that is, if we may judge of men in general by what we see,—that they make this world the first object in their minds, and use religion as a corrective, a restraint, upon too much attachment to the world."


No comments: