Ahhh, Christmas Parties; one of the best things about the season, and after a “year of drought” they are somewhat back! Any excuse to get together with friends simply to…”get together”. Alright, there’s the food and drink, and that’s nice too, but really, how often do we take the time simply to BE with our friends? Not often enough, so it seems.
I always look forward to a few get-togethers during the season; various hosts and various types of parties and dinners, and various “gigs”. In each case, through the years, I was invited and accepted the invitation. It was simple. I didn’t have to fill out a form, join a club, recite an incantation, it was simply an invitation from a friend. Some parties I’ve attended have been popular and sometimes people have worked hard at getting invitations. Some parties have been quiet, improvised, and spontaneous, some elaborate and well-planned months in advance. But in all cases the people who attended were asked by the host and accepted the invitation. They were invited because the host wanted them there. They were invited because they were family. They attended because they accepted the invitation.
The chaos and tension between denominations and between believers is often about the discussion as to who is a part of the Kingdom of God, and who, exactly, will “go to heaven”. It is often a contentious debate which requires PERSON A to do what they are commanded NOT to do (according to the scripture), and that is to pronounce judgment about PERSON B’s heart and behavior. It is, for some, the bottom-line discussion which separates the sacred from the profane. If PERSON A feels that PERSON B doesn’t fulfill the requirements (as PERSON A sees it) it doesn’t matter how good and fine PERSON B is, they are obviously NOT “going to Heaven” so do not deserve the love of other self-identified Christians.
Now, I’m not talking about harmful and destructive behavior, I’m talking about theological differences, or people “seeing God from a different angle”. I’m talking about people who read the same Bible but come to different conclusions than another. To pass judgment on those types of things requires a knowledge that no human has: the ability to read hearts. All of this requires an authority that is not given to humans: the authority to judge, which is God’s place alone.
And yet it is so simple. Who is a part of the Kingdom? Who will be allowed to walk on the streets of gold? God’s friends, who are given the invitation and accept. It requires one to be a friend of God, not necessarily a friend of yours or mine. It requires one to accept the invitation, given by God, not necessarily given by you or me.
It does NOT require one to make a decision about attending, based on who else will be there.
There IS going to be a party. WHO will be there? Those who are friends of God, those who have been invited by God…those who have accepted the invitation. This season, let us assume that ALL have been invited; sinners, seekers and saints…and treat them accordingly.
After all, there are probably some guests at “the party” who may be surprised to see that YOU are attending as well.