There were these men in my old town that became known as the “Sign Guys.” They had these magnificent beards and would stand on the corner in downtown Springfield, MO with words that read “A woman is to be meek, modest…” and “To marry a divorced woman is adultery.” You get the idea. Well, one of their signs got me kind of intrigued. I’ve heard the phrase before. But for some reason reading it from a street corner around a bunch of bars and clubs really resonated with me.
“The Party Ends in Hell.”
It was perfect for the location. Springfield is a college town, so many of the college students pour to downtown on the weekend. During certain occasions they even open up all the bars and shut the streets down. Downtown Springfield is a true Bizarro-type testimony to the hedonistic lifestyle that has swept through our young adults in America.
Unfortunately for the world, they think that morality and Christianity puts shackles on their freewill to have fun. They see religions as “boring” and stale. To have fun in their minds means to go out and party. Like Solomon said sarcastically: “Eat, drink, and be merry!” And though in the past there have been many bad Christian games played at youth groups and bad comedians who tell too many bible puns, Christianity is getting a bad rap. Whoever decided to play the game where students drink soda through their socks is probably going to lose a jewel on their crown in the afterlife.
Being in Christ is being where the party is! In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a story about a HUGE banquet thrown by a king. The king invites all of these people to his party, but when the banquet night comes around, NO ONE shows up. So the king has his servants go out to the street corners and invite everyone they can! The rich and poor are invited along with the sick and well.
Many people were invited to the party but few chose to come.
The Pharisees and Jews as the people of God were invited to join the revolution that Jesus was creating. Jesus came to set the captives free, but the people denied him as their king. They failed to show up to the party. So the invitation was opened to all the people: Greeks, Samaritans, Barbarians, etc. What the Jews thought was a closed party invitation, God had opened up to the world.
People today are trading in their party tickets of a greater life for a knock-off. The bait of instant gratification has become an allusion of wholeness and happiness. That’s why celebrities chase the high, seek attention, and eventually fly off the handle. They don’t realize they skipped out on the Best Banquet ever offered.
So maybe it is true that “the party ends in hell,” but I think what resonates more in our hearts should be that the party starts in Heaven!
My senior pastor just finished a wonderful series on the “Things Unseen.” During the summer between his exegetical series, he spent some time to talk about the things in the “spiritual realm.” For the first time in his pastoring career at the church, there were two weeks devoted to talking solely about Heaven and Hell. It was great! As contrast was painted between the two possibilities of eternal essence, it rang even more true to me – so many people are attending the wrong party.
Maybe you have been taking advantage of the freedom you have in Christ. Maybe you have been searching for a “high” that you can’t seem to find. Maybe you are attending the wrong party. At Christ’s banquet there is freedom, there is fun, and there is fulfillment.
Hopefully I will see you at the party!