What if somebody threw a party for you, not to celebrate your birthday or retirement or any other significant milestone or achievement, but just because you’re you?
Would you be suspicious, looking around waiting for the other shoe to drop? Wondering what’s really going on here?
Jesus told a lot of stories that involved parties. My favorite one is in Luke 15, the parable of the lost son. The father in the story throws a party for his long-lost younger son who comes home. The jealous older son stands outside sulking. He seems to think his young brother is unworthy of celebration. So the father goes out to try and bring his pious first-born inside. He wants everybody to enjoy the party, the self-righteous as well as the unrighteous.
The author of Psalm 40 seems to make the point when he says to God,
“Doing something for you, bringing something to you — that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious — that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears so I can listen…
And I’m coming to the party you’re throwing for me.”
(Eugene Peterson’s translation of Psalm 40:6-7 in The Message)
The lesson seems to be that God is always anxious to have a party in our honor. Not because we’ve done anything spectacular. Not because we’re smarter or better than anybody else. But just because He loves us.
Why is that so hard to accept? Why can’t we just relax and enjoy instead of keeping a critical eye on who the Doorman is letting in?