It's not much fun coming home to an empty house. But, as Beverly Mitchell discovered, it’s not much fun coming home to a house occupied by a stranger either. Especially when the stranger has taken up residence, replaced the family photos with her own, and started to redecorate.
Ms. Mitchell returned from a 2-½ week vacation to find Beverly Valentine living in her house in Douglasville. While sympathetic that Valentine might be confused, Ms. Mitchell was not amused that a stranger had tried to take over her house. Who would be?
God isn’t. Yet, it has become common for people, without any real right to do so, to lay claim to heaven, God’s home. It seems to have become accepted belief that everybody is entitled to heaven.
But I wonder if God might feel a bit like Ms. Mitchell, puzzled that strangers are trying to take up residence at his place. Oh, sure, he has invited us all to live there. He has even invited us all to become part of his family so that we share in ownership of his place.
We should not, however, mistake his offer as our ownership, nor his invitation as our initiation. Consider Jesus’ parable of a wedding banquet illustrating the kingdom of heaven. When those who had been invited to the feast refused to come, the king sent servants out to find strangers to fill those empty seats.
One of the new guests was not wearing wedding clothes. That’s not surprising since these were people invited in off the streets. But, the king was so angry that he “told the attendants, `Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth' (Matthew 22:13). Apparently, the king had supplied the necessary garments, but the guest had not bothered to put them on. The man was without excuse.
In the same way, God has indeed graciously invited us to share his home, not just for a visit but forever. But he does require us to put on the proper attire that he himself provides. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).
Don’t be a stranger in God’s house; be clothed in Christ. Then he will be happy to see you in his kingdom.