Guest Author - Dountonia S. Slack
It is not enough to just want to get into heaven. Our desire/longing/goal as a Christian should be eternal communion with Christ. However, many of us are not preparing for the celebration of this ultimate reward “for many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14 KJV). Accepting the invitation to come to Christ by faith is the vital, life-saving first step to eternity. The next steps involve living out the faith we profess to have through devotion to God, dying to self, and loving and serving others (James 2:18; Mark 12:30-31) because this is the fruit of the faithful and productive life.
On the other hand, the believer with an unfaithful and unproductive life will be cast “into outer darkness” (Matthew 22:13). He will be in the Kingdom of Heaven, but devoid of the closest fellowship with Christ because he did not spruce up for the celebration (Matthew 22:11). As we prepare for our heavenly banquet, we must be "A.L.I.V.E. – always living in view of eternity" (Anonymous). Realizing that we no longer live for ourselves; allowing the process of sanctification to conform us to the image of Christ; and serving with a pure heart with the proper motivations.
“Now, imagine standing before God and seeing all you have lived for reduced to ashes. How do you think you would feel? How do you think you would respond? Picture yourself watching saint after saint rewarded for faithfulness and service to the King—and all the time knowing that you had just as many opportunities but did nothing about them” (A Call to the Wedding Celebration by Gregory P. Sapaugh). The Christian-life must yield the fruit that properly stitches the wedding garment of good works.
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me’” (Matthew 25:34b-36). Faithfulness and showing/giving love to the neglected, rejected, overlooked, and/or outcasts of society is service to the King – the thread worthy of mending the tailor-made wedding garment.
Presence at the banquet celebration in Heaven requires a life woven with righteous, faithful Christian living. The unfaithful and disobedient believer who did not prepare himself for the banquet will find himself excluded from the joy of intimate celebration with Christ at the banquet. Procrastination, laziness, unfounded fear, and unholy excuses are the fruitless, disrespectful attire not fit for the heavenly festivities when we get home.
Therefore, we must strive for the merriment of the light inside the banquet hall through disciplined, obedient service to the King by serving “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) as we live out our days on earth.