Does Matthew scare you? I have to confess that every time I read through Matthew and hear about being cast into the outer darkness where there will be “weeping and gnashing of death,” I get a little scared. What if I am one of those who finds herself thrown out? Cast away from Christ’s presence. Exiled from God’s love.
As a Lutheran I struggle with the work’s righteousness part of many of these passages in Matthew. I firmly believe that I am not saved by my works but by my faith in Christ alone. That is good news – I try to be good but often do it with the wrong motivation. Many days I do not even do the correct thing at all! So much for my own merit. But boy some of those do sound like they are dependent on my good works. Yet I also remember that when I am living in Christ, I am doing good works. The Holy Spirit is at work in me and I am able to reach out to many people in Christ’s name. And so are you!!
But even trusting that I often live out my faith does not help me with the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22. The story starts out great for me. I may not be one of the social elite, but I would be invited to the great wedding banquet. Actually in this case I hope I am not on the king’s original guest list – when they say “no” it gets violent!! In reality, I probably would have been one on the good or bad just standing on the streets any given day. Yeah, I am in!!! But what if I do not have the right clothing on? After all, anyone who knows me knows that I really do not pay enough attention to what clothing I wear. It is really not that important to me. Without the wedding garment, I might get thrown into the outer darkness!!
But finally I remember that I am clothed in Christ. When I was baptized, I put on Christ (as Paul says). It is not what I do or what I wear that matters. Ultimately it is whose I am that matters. Christ claimed me in my baptism. Without him, I am nothing. Because of Christ, I am filled with Holy Spirit and free to do the work of God in the world.
Dress right this morning: Remember your baptism. Trust in the promise that Christ died and rose for you! Share this love with everyone you meet today. Rejoice because there is no darkness, only light in Christ’s presence.