It always feels so good to be invited to a party, doesn’t it? And on the flip side, it feels awful to intentionally not be invited to a party. I’m sure we’ve all been there. There’s something inside of all of us that itches to feel included and invited.
This was the ministry of Jesus Christ — including and inviting people. It was even Jesus who told a story about how the Kingdom of Heaven is like a great dinner party and everyone is invited! In this parable in Matthew 22, Jesus says that the host of the party tells his servants to “’Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ So the servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on — every place filled.”
Jesus lived his life purposefully including the ones who were ignored and mistreated; he saw the people that no one else saw and He invited them to life with Him. If the Kingdom of Heaven is like a big dinner banquet, God wants everyone to be there. Everyone gets an invitation — even the ones that we wouldn’t expect. Jesus spent his days loving and inviting the misfits, the outcasts, and the ones who didn’t belong — and I’m so thankful, because that means I’m included too! I didn’t do anything to earn an invitation, and I certainly don’t deserve one, either — but God made a way for us to be invited anyway — through His son Jesus.
If you’ve already been invited to Kingdom life with Jesus, this is what He says to you in Luke 14: “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be — and experience — a blessing” (Luke 14:13-14 MSG).
It’s our job as servants of Jesus to invite others to life with Him, too.
Everyone is invited to experience Heaven life, but Jesus also says that few actually end up making it to the party (Matthew 22:14). But it certainly isn’t because they weren’t invited. “…The guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business.” Jesus says that some people will be so busy with other things that they just won’t make it.
I don’t think it was any coincidence that Jesus’ first recorded miracle sign took place at a wedding party or that he said the Kingdom of God is like a big dinner party! Jesus was showing us that He was ushering in a whole new way of living and being: An abundant, full life that starts right now if we’re willing to surrender ourselves.
Jesus spent his entire ministry dishing out invitations to the greatest celebration ever — fullness of life with Him in the Kingdom of God. And you’re invited!
Sarah King is director of Youth Ministries, Corry First United Methodist Church.