In the book of Matthew, chapter 22, we find the parable of the wedding garment. A certain king prepares a wedding feast for the marriage of his son. While mingling with the guests, he notices a man who is not wearing a wedding garment. In the context of this story, there should be no excuse for this man to not be wearing the appropriate clothing. It is understood he would have had the opportunity to put on clothes that were proper for the occasion. This inappropriately dressed guest is bound and thrown out of the party.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.- Matthew 22:11-12
The message of the parable is that we can not enter the kingdom of heaven clothed in our own righteousness, but only in the garment of righteousness that is given to us through the blood of Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought, “Man. What was that guy thinking? Of course he’s going to get kicked out. Why wouldn’t he wear the wedding garment in the first place?” And then my children remind me.
My daughter loves to pick out her own clothes. Her outfits usually involve several layers of pink- a dress over a shirt over a bathing suit over her pajamas… She waltzes around the house arrayed in princess costumes, sunglasses, hard hats- whatever she feels fits the occasion. As a parent, I can smile benevolently and indulge her in her creative fashionista whims. Until… It’s time… to leave… the house. That’s when it hits me- she really thinks that crazy outfit is her attire for the day. She has no idea why I would prefer she not go to the pediatrician’s office in short sleeves in January. Tears ensue. Some compromise is usually reached. We leave accessories at home and dress appropriately for the weather. The princess dress is chosen because it covers all the necessary body parts. Scenarios like this are pretty common for the parents of preschoolers.
While our everyday attire may be a superficial matter, trying to be clothed in our own righteousness is a very serious matter. If I feel that my super-awesome-sequined-working-the-soup-kitchen dress is enough to allow me entrance into the heavenly wedding party, I am sadly mistaken. Like my daughter, I may want to leave the house in a garment of my own creation. Like my daughter, the unfortunate wedding guest may have felt that whatever he was wearing was good enough, and he wasn’t going to change into an outfit that was forced upon him by “the system”. Although my daughter’s outfit may be sufficient enough to get her through our daily errands, my lack of proper spiritual clothing will not allow me into heaven. I must put on the wedding garment provided me. And fortunately, no matter what kind of crazy outfit I’ve got on underneath, when I submit to the authority of the king, I am totally covered by his garment. That’s all anyone at the wedding feast can see. Not my own righteousness, but his.