Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dressed For the Judgment

Dressed For the Judgment
While on tour, a famous Pop-Rock star – Liam Phillips (fictional name) - stopped at a major city for a concert.  He arrived a few days before the concert to rehearse and tour the city a little.  One evening after rehearsal, and dressed very casually, he decided to stop by a very exclusive restaurant.  Unbeknownst to him this restaurant had a dress code.  There was a sign at the door that read, "No Jacket – No Service."  He went right through the doors, without reading the sign, only to find himself bounced by a very muscular man.  The man said to him very sternly, "Sir, you cannot come in like that."  Puzzled, the singer asked, "Why? I don’t understand."  Still with his stern tone, the bouncer answered, "We have a dress code, Sir.  There is a sign at the door. Did you not read it?"  With embarrassment, the singer answered, "No I didn’t.  What did it say?"  To which the bouncer replied immediately, "I figured.  It reads, 'No jacket – No service.' " Being used to preferential treatment, the singer proceeded to try to charm his way through the situation.  He said to the bouncer, "Well, I am pretty sure an exception can be made, since I am Liam Phillips."  "Sir," answered the bouncer, "I know who you are, in fact, I love your music.  But, I am just doing my job; I do not want to lose it." 
By now the singer was a little frustrated, he sighed and answered to the bouncer, "Listen, if your manager knew what you are doing to me, I could make him fire you."  "Mr. Phillips, if my manager wants to make an exception that is his call.  I do not have that authority.  If he lets you in, I will more than gladly oblige.  Again, that is his call," said the bouncer.  The bouncer than added, "Would you like to speak to our manager, Mr. Phillips?"  The singer answered, "Yes, I would?"  "Please wait here," answered the bouncer.  But, before the bouncer could turn around, the manager had made his way to the front.  "What is all the commotion?" he said.  The bouncer quickly replied, "Mr. Phillips would like to speak to you."  "Ah, Mr. Liam Phillips," said the manager, "I love your music."  Clearly frustrated, the singer quickly replied, "Thank you.  I just want to get some food.  And your muscle man will not let me in."  "Mr. Phillips, I am sorry about how this situation has inconvenienced you from being served at our restaurant. I am sorry that it has caused you to become very frustrated.  But, we must adhere by our rules.  However, if you were to get a jacket we would be glad to serve you."  "Where would I get a jacket?" said Liam with a tone of sarcasm, being that it was rather late for stores to be open.  "Well," said the manager, "There is a store right next door.  They are still open.  You can get one there.  Please tell them Mr. Smith sent you."  "I will do that," said the singer as he left the restaurant, feeling humiliated.
When he arrived at the clothing store, the attendant recognized him immediately.  "Liam Phillips, what an honor.  I have tickets for your concert.  Love your music. What can I do for you"  "Thank you.  I need a jacket," answered Liam.  "Did Mr. Smith send you, Mr. Phillips?" asked the attendant.  "Yes, He did," answered the singer.  "Please come with me," said the attendant.  The attendant led the singer to a rack with a label that read the name of the restaurant.  He pulled out a Jacket that he felt would fit the singer.  And, indeed it was a very good fit.  The singer pulled out his credit card, and the attendant said, "Oh no, this is compliments of the restaurant."  Puzzled, the singer walked out of the store then walks into the restaurant.  He looks at the bouncer with a sheepish smile and says, "I have my jacket."  The bouncer smiles and nods his head in approval, and says to Liam, "Come right in, Mr. Phillips, the maitre d’ will be with you shortly."
This account – loosely based on true story- shows that the singer thought that his accomplishments should have merited him to enter the restaurant.  But, the restaurant had other standards: the clothes you wear.  Knowing that not every one would have a jacket when visiting the establishment, they provided complimentary attire so costumers would not leave not served, but could if they chose to, fit the standard of the restaurant and still be served. 
It reminds us of the parable of the wedding banquet.  When the alternative guests are invited, they are provided with garments, since they have none appropriate attire for the occasion.  Just like the singer in our story had to be dressed to be served in the restaurant, the wedding guests have to be dressed in a certain way to attend the wedding.  Matthew 22:8 states "those who were bidden were not worthy."  What made the alternative guests worthy of attending the Wedding Banquet?  When we look further we find the answer.  The King provided the dress that made the guests worthy of attending the wedding feast.  At a certain point, the King decided to come to see His guests and He found one not dressed with the garment the King Himself provided.  This guest was "kicked out into the utter darkness of eternal separation from God (Matthew 22: 11-13). 
In this parable we are the guests who are bid to attend the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb.  Not one of us is worthy to attend, however.   As good Laodicean's we may think so, but God says we are not (Revelation 3:15-17).  We may think that all our accomplishments will make us worthy of entrance into the Kingdom of God, but God says those who think this way, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: …And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:" (Matthew 25: 41,44).
So our King has provided garments for us so that we may be made worthy of attending the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.   "I counsel thee to buy of me … white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear…" (Revelation 3:18).  This white raiment represents the Righteousness of Christ.  Yes, in the Investigative Judgment, God will judge us by our works.  However, as you read in Matthew 25 the works of those accepted by God and the works of those rejected by God seem to be similar.  However, the works of those not accepted by God came from self-righteousness, and the works of those accepted by God came from the Righteousness of Christ in them.  Notice that the accepted group did not know they had made those works (Matthew 25: 36-38).    Our standards are based on performance, and we think that a good performance will make us merit the attire.  God’s standards are based on attire; the right attire: Christ’s Robe of Righteousness.  This Godly attire enables the good performance.    Are you dressed for the Judgment?