You think you know who your friends are, don’t you? Well, I thought I did, and by my time of life you would have expected to have it all sorted out. After all, it’s a long time since we were fickle children, quarrelling and changing playmates in a way that no adult could ever hope to keep up with. I knew, because I am a man of the world and not unobservant, that people can turn away from you when things go badly; I did not know, until now, that they can turn away from you when you offer them something good. It seems I do not understand people nearly as well as I thought I did.
I remember the day I first planned my banquet. Life has been good and I have been blessed with more abundance than I had ever dreamed of. I looked around me with pleasure, and then the thought struck: wouldn’t it be good to share all this with my friends? So I sent out my servants with the save the date cards, and everyone replied that they would be very happy to come. So I started my preparations, wanting to put together the best party that has ever been seen in these parts. Such scrubbing, such shopping, such planning, such baking! I even gave my servants extra pay for all their hard work helping me turn my dream into a reality, and I smiled to myself as I ran around busy with everything. What fun this was going to be!
Then the day of the big event arrived and I sent my servants out to fetch the guests. They went out smiling with anticipation, they returned looking downcast and forlorn. My friends weren’t coming! Every single one had returned an excuse of the sorry but I’m too busy” kind. And what flimsy, insulting excuses they were. One had just bought a field and had to go and check it out. Really? Who buys a field sight unseen? And, ahem, the field would still be there just the same tomorrow, since it can’t exactly get up and move somewhere else! Another said he’d just bought himself a yoke of oxen and had to check them out. Seriously? He’d just spent all that money on them without checking them first? I knew him to be a canny businessman; I simply didn’t believe it.
The last one to come back was the most insulting of them all. He couldn’t come because he’d just got married! He was supposed to be my friend and not only did he not invite me to his wedding, but he planned it to clash with my big party. I had some very dark thoughts then, imagining all my “friends” gathered at this wedding, laughing at my failed party.
But I am not a man to be easily defeated. If my so-called friends couldn’t make it, I wasn’t going to let it spoil things. I would find myself some other guests. So I called my servants back and told them to go out into the highways and the byways, the forgotten places that no one cares about, and give my invitation to the people you find there – the poor, the broken, the disabled, the rejected, and compel them to come to my party.
Well, they did, and they came, and we had the best night of my life. I have new friends now, people who actually want to come to my house. But as we cleaned up the day after, I gazed around, giving thanks for such a blessing, and a new thought struck me. Do I treat God the way my friends treated me, happily nodding and saying “yes, yes,” until he wants a real commitment from me?