by Tad Lindley
(I take my title from a sermon preached by Rev. Johnny James, the message is mine).
And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. (Matthew 22:12)
Many times in my life I have heard women say, “I’m trying to lose some weight, because so-and-so are getting married, and I have got to be able to fit into my favorite dress for the wedding”. In general, men don’t care as much about other people’s weddings and such statements are hard for us to understand. Nevertheless, there is a powerful spiritual truth in it, so men stay with me.
The wedding banquet
Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a great wedding banquet (Matthew 22 1-14). He told about the original guests who refused the invitation, and how the king holding the feast sent his servants out to invite whoever would come, both good and bad. When the guests had gathered, among them there was found a man who did not have his wedding garment on. If you are a male, you might be in the habit of showing up to a wedding in jeans and a Carhartt jacket. “What’s the big deal”, you wonder.
To the king in the story, it was a big deal. In fact, the king said to his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (22:13) Sound extreme? It is, but Jesus wasn’t interested in popular opinion polls, he was interested in the salvation of our souls.
Your personal wedding garment
There is a wedding coming in the future. Revelation 19 tells of the wedding supper. At that point, the Lord will be united with the church. Speaking of the church the Bible says, and to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints [in the Bible “saints” means average Christians]. (19:8)
If you have repented of your sins and been baptized in Jesus’ name, you have felt what it is like to wear the wedding garment. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27) And if you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, you will rise up in the rapture to attend the wedding supper (John 1:12, Acts 2:38, Romans 8:9-11). Regardless of how sinful we have been, we have been invited by Jesus, and he has made a way for us to be cleansed of our sin.
But will the garment fit?
True, the garment may have fit at one time, but does it fit now? We may have experienced God’s saving power at one time, but along the way we hung it up in the closet. We have become so comfortable in the weights and sins of the world that the wedding garment no longer fits. When the trumpet blasts there won’t be time to cast off those sins and squeeze into the wedding clothes.
If the world fits, you’re the wrong size
If the lifestyle of getting high on alcohol, meth, or marijuana fits you, then you are the wrong size for the wedding garment. If having sex outside of marriage fits you, you won’t be able to suck in your tummy enough to fit the wedding garment. If you are a liar, it won’t fit. If there is hate or pride in your heart, you’ll split your skirt. If you enjoy watching television programs where you see other people committing these same sins, you’ll bust your britches (Romans 1:32). If you spend more time at card games or bingo than you do in prayer, you need to go on a diet (Matthew 6:24). Husband if you are admiring the models in Victoria’s Secret, you need to shed your sin and cancel your subscription (Matthew 5:28). However you try to justify it, if the world fits you, then you are the wrong size.
Shedding those extra pounds
Forgive me for being old-fashioned, but I still believe that what worked in the Bible will work today. When the men of Jerusalem asked the Apostle Peter what to do about the sin that would keep them from God, Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38) If you already have these Biblical experiences, but you have backslidden and gotten comfortable with sin again, then it is time to repent and turn back to Jesus. Writing to those who had already been buried with Jesus in baptism and received the Holy Ghost, John wrote, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) Whether you know nothing about Jesus, are a backslidden Christian, or fall somewhere in between, I urge you to heed the cry of Jesus throughout the gospels: If the world fits, you’re the wrong size.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.