HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY


         The kind of life we live is a reflection of the kind of

         God we actually believe in...not the God we profess to

         believe in, but the God we really believe in.


             -   If we believe in a God who is a tyrant we

                 will go through our lives cringing with fear.


             -   If we believe in a God who is a pushover, we

                 will slide through life as irresponsible slobs.


                      — If our God is mercy we will be merciful.


                      — If our God is holy, we will be holy.


         Here is Jesus’ description of the God who is his Father:


             “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king

             who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent

             his servants to call those who were invited to

             the marriage feast; but they would not come.

             Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those

             who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my

             dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed,

             and everything is ready; come to the marriage 

             feast.’ But they made light of it and went off,

             one to his farm, another to his business, while

             the rest seized his servants, treated them shame-

             fully, and killed them. The king was angry, and

             he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers

             and burned their city. Then he said to his ser-

             vants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited

             were not worthy. Go therefore to the thorough-

             fares, and invite to the marriage feast as many

             as you find.’ And those servants went out into

             the streets and gathered all whom they found, both

             bad and good, so the wedding hall was filled with



            “But when the king came in to look at the guests,

             he saw there a man who had no wedding garment;

             and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in

             here without a wedding garment?’ And he was

             speechless. Then the king said to the attendants,

             ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the

             outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash

             their teeth.’ For many are called, but few are

             chosen.”              Matthew 22:2-14


         The king in this parable is God. He is a gracious king.

         He’s giving a marriage feast for his son and he wants

         to share his joy with his guests.


            “Behold, I have made ready my dinner. My oxen

             and my fat calves are killed and everything

             is ready. Come to the marriage feast!”


         When the king is turned down by the invited guests he

         sends his servants out to the streets.


             “Gather everybody you can find, bad and good,

             rich and poor. Bring them in and fill my

             wedding hall.”


         What could be more gracious than a wedding feast where

         everybody’s welcome?


         The kingdom of God is a wedding feast where the door is

         open to all and the king provides everything for his

         guests...everything. He provides the food,

                                                        the music, he even

         provides the wedding garment. All we have to do is

         leave our old ways, put on his new wedding garment and

         come to the feast.


         But there’s another side to this king...(remember this

         king is God and this description of the king is coming

         to us from the Son of God)...He is a king who for all

         his kindness and warmth, nevertheless, holds each

         person accountable for what he does.


         The invited guests who made light of their invitation,

         who treated the king’s servants shamefully and killed

         them were held accountable for their actions. Troops

         were sent by the king to destroy those murderers and

         burn their city.


         What a harsh way for Jesus to talk! Except, that Jesus

         is describing reality...this is the way it is in the

         real world of the real kingdom of the real God.


         And after the wedding hall is filled the king comes in

         to look at his guests and he finds a man who has the

         audacity to come to the feast without wearing the gar-

         ment he was given.


              “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding


                         ....he was speechless.


             “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the

             outer darkness.”


         So, what is God like?


            — The God who is in this room....

            — The God who is answering our prayers...

            — The God who comes to us in the bread and wine...

            — The God who heals our lives...


         How else can we describe him but to say that he is good

         beyond comprehension.


             God so loved the world that he gave his only

             begotten son that whoever believes in him should

             not perish but have everlasting life.


         And yet, if this wonderful God comes into the wedding

         hall and finds us walking around without a wedding gar-

         ment he banishes us to the outer darkness.


         What does this mean? It means that the God of all grace

         holds us accountable for what we do with his grace.


         By his grace, the death and resurrection of his Son

         Jesus, God sets us free from our sins. But by setting

         us free from our sins he also makes us responsible for

         our actions.


         The servant who was forgiven 10,000 talents was res-

         ponsible for what he did with his forgiveness. If he

         takes his forgiveness and buries it and fails to live

         it, fails to forgive the man who begs forgiveness for

         a hundred pence, then this ungrateful servant loses

         his forgiveness and he’s in the outer darkness.


         Whenever Jesus talks about divine grace he also talks

         about human responsibility. But like most of the

         culture around us,

            — we want the grace without the responsibility,


            — we want to come to the banquet but we don’t

              want anyone talking to us about the fact that

              we aren’t wearing the wedding garment.


            “Look, I know I have a bad temper but I can’t

             help it. It was the way I was brought up.”


              “People may think I’m stingy, but I lived through

             some bad times and now I just can’t help hoard-

             ing things.”


             “So who wouldn’t compromise a little in the area

             of sexual fantasy if they were married to an

             iceberg like my husband or my wife.”

         Not that the tendency to pass the buck hasn’t always

         been there.


             “Lord, don’t blame me for eating the fruit of

             the forbidden tree. The woman you gave me....

             she gave it to me and I ate.”


             “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where

             you do not sow....so I buried the talent.”     


        The same Lord who comes to us today and says,

            “Your sins are forgiven. Rise and walk,”


         also says,


             “Now, put on a wedding garment.”


         So, how do we put on a wedding garment?


         1.  To put on a wedding garment means that I am respon-

             sible for my sin, including my thoughts and attitudes.


         The minute I put on that wedding garment of grace I can

         no longer blame my sin on my wife,

                                 my husband,

                                 my hard times,

                                 my unhappy childhood,


                               .....it’s my sin.

          Only when I accept responsibility for my sin can I repent

         of my sin. Then the sin is plunged under the blood of

         the Lamb and is gone.


             Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and

             cleanse me from my sin, For I acknowledge

             my transgression; and my sin is ever before

             me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,

             and done this evil in thy sight; that thou

             mightest be justified when thou speakest,

             and be clear when thou judgest.

                                    Psalm 5l:2-4


         God help us to take the sin in our lives that we’re

         blaming on others or excusing as heredity weakness and

         accept responsibility for it and repent so that we can

         be forgiven.


         2.  To put on a wedding garment means that I am respon-

             sible for the light I have been given.

            The true light that enlightens every man was

             coming into the world. He was in the world,

             and the world was made through him, yet the

             world knew him not. He came to his own home,

             and his own people received him not, But to

             all who received him, who believed in his

             name, he gave power to become children of God;

             who were born, not of blood nor of the will

             of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.        

                                  John 1:9-13

         When we receive Jesus into our hearts, we receive

         light --- he is the light. And by that light we see God.

         The more clearly we see Jesus the more clearly we see

         God. And once I have seen the light of God,


                  I now have a path on which to walk,

                  I know why I’m in this world,

                  I know which direction I have to go.


         Now it’s up to me to walk in that light.


         There will come seasons of hardship when we are tempted

         to turn away from the light and go back to our old ways.

         But we can never go back to where we were before we

         saw the light...we were ignorant then, but now we know

         the Light and we are accountable.


        3.  To put on a wedding garment means that I am respon—

            sible for the material things a I’ve been given.         


         In the kingdom of God the spiritual and the material

         are always linked together. God, who is Spirit, be-

         came flesh and dwelt among us. The Spirit of Jesus

         comes to us in physical bread and wine.

            — Our spiritual worship is to present our physical

                 bodies to God as a living sacrifice.


            — Our spiritual commitment to God is tested in the

                physical realm by our purity in man/woman re-



            — Our spiritual faithfulness is proven by our

                faithfulness in the unrighteous mammon.

                “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful

                also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very

                little is dishonest also in much. If then you

                have not been faithful in the unrighteousness mammon,

                who will entrust to you the true riches? And if

                you have not been faithful in that which is

                another’s who will give you that which is your own?”      

                                     Luke 16:10-12

         When we put on that wedding garment we are committing

         ourselves to faithfulness in the unrighteous mammon.

         We are disciplined,


                     responsible in the way we handle money and things.

         Faithfulness in the unrighteous mammon is the first step

         in learning to handle the true riches of God’s kingdom.


         4. To put on a wedding garment means that I am respon-

            sible for the work the Lord has assigned to me.

              Peter turned and saw following them the disciple

             whom Jesus loved,....When Peter saw him, he said

             to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus

             said to him, “If it is my will that he remain

             until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”        

                                  John 21:20—22

         Peter is not responsible for John’s labor. He’s respon-

         sible only for his own.


                 “Never mind what John is called to do, just

                 follow me, Peter.”


         Many of us have our eyes on what some other servant of

         the Lord is called to do, or on some task we always

         fancied we’d like to do. There is never any fulfillment

         in trying to perform a task God did not give us.


                — Moses had his job.

                — Ezekiel had his.

                — Mary had hers.

                — Anna had hers. --- You have yours     

                                           ---  I have mine.

         We don’t have to feel guilty because we’re not accomp-

         lishing what Moses did...and we don’t have to feel

         jealous. It’s the work that’s right in front of us.

         Or the unmistakable vision of a labor we’ve been

         called to but have been pushing out of our minds. Or

         an unfinished task we walked away from some years



         The work God has given us is a work he’s equipped us

         to do. And in the doing of it is wonderful peace...

         wonderful peace.


         We’re gathered here today as guests of the king. This

         is the wedding feast he has prepared for his Son. The

         king has provided everything, the food,

                                                   the music,

                                  even the wedding garment.

         And when the king comes in to look at the guests he

         expects to see a wedding garment on each of us.