We have all gotten invitations with these four letters. Whether you know what they actually stand for or not (confession: I had to Google it…), you know what it means. The host of the party is asking you to respond and let them know whether or not you are going to attend. The invitation requires a response. In many cases, if you do not respond, there will not be a spot for you at the party.
In Luke 14, Jesus tells a parable about a party. He describes how a certain man prepared a great banquet and sent his servant out to let his invited guests know it was ready. One by one, however, they all began to make excuses. They were too busy. They had other concerns that needed to be dealt with. In the end, none of the invited guests attended the party. Not to be deterred, the master sent his servant out to invite the outcasts and the foreigners. Unlike the invited guests, they responded positively to the invitation.
Jesus is teaching us an important truth through this parable. God has invited us to participate in his Kingdom. In several instances throughout the Bible, the Kingdom of God is described as a great celebration, representing our fellowship with him. Even though God has extended that offer to us, we must respond for ourselves. We must RSVP.
There have been several occasions when, after receiving an invitation in the mail, the card gets lost. I have a terrible habit of opening a piece of mail, setting it down, and then forgetting it ever existed. Weeks or months later, I will come across it while sorting through papers and realize I missed my chance to RSVP. I was invited. They asked me to participate. But I missed out because I did not respond in time.
In order to participate in God’s great banquet, we must respond positively to his gracious invitation. Some may argue that this puts too much emphasis on our part in the salvation process. Saying that we need to respond to God’s offer of salvation, however, does not take away from the reality that he provides everything necessary for salvation. We cannot save ourselves. It is the free gift of God, made available to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-10). Apart from the saving work of Christ on the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we cannot be saved. And yet, we still need to respond by turning away from our sin and trusting in Christ.
Think of it like a homeless person at a soup kitchen. The soup kitchen provides the food at no cost. It obtains the food, cooks it, and distributes it all on its own. The soup kitchen operates in order to feed the hungry. It is accomplishing this mission independently of the homeless person who is in need. For the person to be fed, however, they must go to the soup kitchen and eat. They will not gain the benefits of the soup kitchen if they do not go and experience it for themselves. If not for the soup kitchen and the food that it provides, the homeless person would go hungry. At the same time, then, the soup kitchen is both independent of the person, and the person retains their freedom of choice.
In the same way, God has done everything necessary for our salvation, completely independent of you and me. There is nothing that we can either add to or take away from what Christ did on the cross. Our responsibility, the only part that we play in this entire process, is whether or not we will repent from our sin and trust in the Gospel.
We have all been given the invitation. Please RSVP today.