RSVPing the King: the Party Animals

Jesus describes party poopers, party animals, and party crashers in his parable in Matthew 22:1-14. These represent the various responses men made to the king’s invitation to the wedding feast for his son.

Party Poopers, rather than enjoying the king and the bounty of his provision, prefer that the attention be focused on their work, their labor, their accomplishments, even if the only attention so focused is their own.

After the Poopers no-showed for the king’s party, he took a different approach and sent his servants to the street corners to bring in everyone they could find, both “good and bad,” and there was apparently no problem in filling the banquet hall with these.

Always up for a good time, willing to party anytime, anywhere, this second group are the Party Animals.

Some who hold to orthodox Christianity suppose it anathema to be considered a “party animal.” For them, a buttoned-up, straight-laced, reserved, respectable faith avoids any appearance of having fun. Any appearance of fun, that is, except for exuberance of the golf course, football stadium, tree stand, or stock ticker. Yet the Party Animals attending the king’s banquet seemed more attuned to the “Christian hedonism” of John Piper than to the stuffed-shirt religion that reserves expressions of joy for socially acceptable occasions.

The Party Animals are actually the least described of the three kinds of people in the parable, and most of what we know about them comes from comparing them to the other two. In contrast to those invited first — who were “not worthy” — the Party Animals consisted of those both “good and bad”: their “worth” was established by being in the king’s presence when called. In contrast to the third group, the Party Animals came to and attended the king’s party on his terms, not their own.

Yet no words of approval or praise were afforded the Party Animals. No attention was called to their superior wisdom in attending the banquet rather than roaming the streets. No praise was given their superior intellect in recognizing the value of the offer. No accolades were given for their obedience, or for exercising their will.

In fact, the manner in which Jesus treated this group almost seemed as if he assumed that the duty of those hearing the king’s offer was to heed the call.

No attention, praise, or accolade was even needed, because for Party Animals, the reward is not being recognized for the excellence of their choice, but the reward is being in the presence of the king.ij

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