4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.
6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. Matthew 22:4-6 NIV

This story seems a bit extreme. What kind of RSVP is it when you kill the messenger? Now I have the difficult task of explaining why the story uses such violent language while also attempting not to dumb it down. When we read a parable like this, we may need to catch some of the references that Matthew’s readers would have. Yes, this is a parable, but it’s also a story that happened in Israel’s history. Over and over again we find Israel invited to God’s kingdom. They would get off track, and God would send them a judge or a prophet. Sometimes, those prophets were killed or chided because of their message.

Jesus’ hearers would have known about this stained past. Jesus wants them to see the absurdity of not going to the party. He also wants his hearers to realize that even the prophets had invited God’s people to something good.

It would be easy to log this information away as interesting and never look at ourselves. Do you realize that all the commands of scripture are invitations? Every teaching of Jesus is an invitation to a kingdom party. His way is better. If we are honest, we sometimes kill the messenger too. Maybe you hear a sermon or read a passage of scripture through which God’s spirit gives you an invitation to a new way of being. Instead of finding a way to dive into that invitation, we often explain it away or drown it out with other concerns. Let’s not kill the message that God has for us.

The next time you feel that nudge of conviction – that invitation – respond with a simple prayer like this: “God, I intend to obey.” Find some time to plan the steps you need to take to obey. Send that messenger a text, add something to your calendar, and sign up for the thing. You don’t know what it looks like for you, but show up to the party.