Thursday, August 21, 2014

Matthew 22:12-14: The Wedding Garment, Being Chosen, and Reconciling Imputed/Imparted Grace

"...and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’"
~ Matthew 22:12-14 NRSV

The parable of the wedding guests in Matthew 22 divides most Christians into two exegetical camps:
a.  The "wedding robe" as a symbol of imparted grace due to charitable works 
b.  The "wedding robe" as an indication of God's imputed grace upon the elect  

How do we reconcile these two opposingly different views of this parable? Would our merciful God deny the faithful His loving invitation to the wedding feast of heaven? 

Clearly God offers all the invitation to His loving forgiveness through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We all benefit from the atonement, moreover, and are freely justified by Christ's act of love on the cross.  But we are called to love, too. This garment of loving action is required to enter the banquet, for if we fail to love not only God above all things but our neighbor as ourselves, then we fail to wear the required "wedding robe" and are cast "into the outer darkness."  

In order to be the light of Christ for others, we need to let His light shine through us, for through loving action we become the living conduit of Christ.  However, if we refuse to love and channel His light, then we doff the garment of His grace. It is through God's grace, first, that we are able to love and receive forgiveness, that we are justified.  But being reborn in Christ, we are required to honor being unworthily justified through sanctifying acts of love.