Seeking to use our Nintendo Wii for God’s glory, we decided to throw a Wii party and invited a large group of people to join us in an evening of video game revelry and pizza. We issued an E-vite and got a tepid response, with only a few commitments. Mostly, people told us that they might come, but they hesitated to confirm whether or not they would attend. A lot of them made excuses why they might not be able to make it.On the night of the event, we cleared out our living room to make space for plenty of Wii action, and I cooked a couple of pizzas for our guests. After an hour of waiting for people to arrive, we decided to start eating by ourselves. Nobody was arriving, and we wanted had plenty of food and activities for a real party. Instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to make the best of the situation. It was time to find ourselves some guests.
Dan went to our neighbors in our apartment complex, seeing if anybody wanted to hang out, have pizza, and play Wii with us. Some of our newest neighbors, two young men that we’d never met before, came right over. They were enthusiastic about getting to meet us, their new neighbors, and we were glad to have some other people at our party!
While Dan was out finding guests, I found the whole situation vaguely familiar, like I had experienced it before. It was sort of like Déjà vu, but not quite. It wasn’t until we were all jumping around the living room, eating pizza, playing the Wii, and laughing our heads off, that I remembered why this seemed so familiar.
Jesus told a story, a parable, about a man who prepared a “great banquet” and invited a ton of guests (Luke 14:16-24). When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell everyone. People started making all sorts of lame excuses. One had to examine his oxen. Another just bought a field and wanted to check it out. Another person recently got married, and somehow that kept him from being social. The man hosting the banquet got really ticked off and told his servant to pack his house with new guests. He said, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” Pretty soon, he had a full house and a major party going on.
At our own party, a few of our invited guests eventually showed up, but it was our newfound friends that made the evening special. We were glad to have the opportunity to meet some new neighbors and bless them with an unexpected evening of food and fun.
Jesus’ parable was meant to demonstrate how Heaven is like a big party. Self-righteous religious folk get the invites, but they turn down God’s offer when it suits their own pride and sense of worth. Instead, those who are needy and downtrodden recognize the immense value of the gift. I think most people would be surprised to learn that heaven is populated by a motley crew of repentant sinners, not the pretty pious sorts.
Does this mean that humble people make the best party goers? Maybe. I think that if anything, our party taught us that God is the one that ultimately makes the guest lists. We might have grand ideas about how to have a good time, but He’s the one who really knows how to party.