If Facebook changed its policies (not hard to imagine) so that confirming a friend request meant that you also added all of that person’s friends how would that change the way to reply to friend requests? Would you welcome the exponential increase to posts on your news feed? Think about how many cat videos and “I want to see how many friends read this” posts you would have to wade through. Think about all the posts about things that don’t interest you, and worse, all those things that annoy you. How much of an increase in extreme political posts could you handle?
Now consider receiving a friend request from Jesus. Would you friend Jesus if you also had to friend all of Jesus’ friends? Before you instinctively reply “yes,” consider who Jesus’ friends are. Among Jesus friends are the homeless guy on the corner with food in his beard who talks to himself. Jesus is also friends with that woman who protests at the abortion clinic every week and posts all the sermons from her mega-church. Your second grade teacher and your crazy uncle are friends with Jesus too. Ultimately, your friends list would necessarily include everyone.
The problem with this metaphor is that you can have a Facebook friend without actually comitting to friendship. But if we all could truly befriend everyone whom Jesus would friend, well that would be a bit like heaven. It might be described as a great feast where everyone is invited. That is exactly how Jesus described it in the parable we consider this week. The problem is that even though the feast couldn’t be more desirable many of the invitees found reasons not to attend. This is similar to ignoring a friend request from Jesus. On the surface, that sounds impossibly foolish, but how many excuses have you come up with to ignore the call of God?
Yet that isn’t the end of the story. One of the guys who does accept the invitation gets himself kicked out because he won’t play by the rules. All the guests were given party hats to wear but he refuses. Maybe he was simply too proud to look silly. Or maybe he looked around the room and didn’t like the company he was expected to keep. Again, that may sound like a decision no right thinking person would make, but think about that Facebook news feed we were imagining earlier. Are you really ready to go to a party where EVERYONE is invited?
It can’t be that bad to be at a party where everyone is a friend of a friend and that friend is Jesus…it might even be heaven.
Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of Old South United Church of Christ, Kirtland, Ohio where Darkwood Brew is used as part of an effort to be the church beyond walls. He also has a YouTube channel of two-minute videos called Bible Bytes.