I’m sure you have heard the saying,
“If Satan cannot make you bad, he will make you busy!”
I used to take it lightly because I thought it was just a cute little joke. After years of observing busy people and personal experience, I discovered that saying is profoundly true. The truth is that busyness can be as bad as bad. Busyness can be a distraction from what matters most and our higher calling.
Bad people are likelier to hit a wall one day, wake up, repent, and change. But busy people are less likely to wake up because they think they are busy doing important things, so they don’t see the need to change. Maybe that’s why God hates lukewarmness. Lukewarmness is not bad—not cold, but not good enough—not hot enough.
When you ask people, “How are you doing?” They used to answer, “I’m fine.” But nowadays, more people like to answer, “I’m busy!” It makes them sound important and productive. However, busyness is not productivity. In fact, busyness could be an obstacle to real productivity that fulfills our calling.
A horrible war broke out between Israel and Palestine this week. I think wars are the ultimate example of busyness. What’s more important than defending your country? Laozi said,
“When the world lacks the Tao,
Warhorses give birth on the battlefield.” ~Laozi
With a simple sentence, the sage describes the horror of war. Imagine pregnant mares are taken to fight the battle and have to give birth on the battlefield. Animals cannot talk, but reasonable people can feel their pain. He pinpointed the cause for war—the lack of the Tao.
What is the Tao? The Tao in Chinese means “the Word” or “the Logos.” So, the Chinese translation of the Gospel of John says,
“In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God.” (Jn 1:1).
In other words, Laozi was saying that horrible wars break out when people don’t have God. Being religious doesn’t necessarily mean they have God. Jesus dealt with many religious people who didn’t have God. He was eventually crucified by religious leaders. So, religious people are not equivalent to godly people. John said later in verse 14.
“And the Tao became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14).
That means Jesus Christ is the Tao in human form, who reveals God as full of grace and truth. There is no grace in a war. So, there is no God in a war. Wars don’t resolve the root of the problem. It will make us busy and distract us from solving the root of the problem. War is a shortcut that masks the symptoms but doesn’t cure the disease. The disease is,
“When the world lacks the Tao (or God),
Warhorses give birth on the battlefield.” ~Laozi
What a busy scene in a sentence! If Satan cannot make you bad, he will make you busy! Busyness blinds us from seeing God and makes us resolve to violence and warfare because we think we are important. By busyness, I am also talking about mental busyness. I have ADHD. H is for Hyperactivity. While I don’t appear hyperactive physically, I am hyperactive in my mind. My mind is always busy.
So, this topic is not only for those who are physically busy but also mentally or emotionally busy. Jesus came to open our eyes to God’s grace, teaching us how to relax and be immensely fruitful by fulfilling our higher calling.
So, today, we will look at the danger of busyness that blinds us from fulfilling the divine calling based on this week’s scripture lesson. Let’s begin!
[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper—you are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you and you are satisfied in God.]
The Scripture lesson for today is from the Gospel According to Matthew 22:1-14. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’
5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22:1–14).
[Blessed are those who delight in God’s word. Thanks be to God!]
That’s the last of three parables Jesus told at the temple when the religious leaders came to ask him questions to trap him, arrest him, and get him crucified. Jesus was disappointed at their murderous motive. Those religious leaders were supposed to represent God but didn’t know God. They were busy defending their religion and country.
I covered the first two parables in the previous weeks. Now, Jesus told the third parable, comparing the kingdom of heaven to a king’s wedding banquet. He says,
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” (Mt 22:2).
The king symbolizes God in this allegory, and the son is Jesus Christ. Stretch your imagination and visualize an elaborate wedding banquet. What was the most glamorous wedding banquet you have been to? You must have seen some fantastic wedding events on TV.
Just imagine being invited to the party of a lifetime. Imagine a celebration 100 times more enchanting, exciting, and exotic than the most expansive Carnival Cruise. A friend of mine likes to visit the Disney Land every year, even after sixty years old. She said Disney World is the only place on earth close to heaven. Stretch your imagination!
I remember years ago, thanks to our daughter Cassy, who won an art and essay competition, and the award she received included tickets for the entire family to join the maiden cruise of the Freedom of the Sea, the largest cruise ship in the world, all expenses paid.
They picked us up with a stretched limousine but had to park on the roadside because the limo didn’t fit our driveway. To make the long story short, it was an experience of a lifetime.
Still, it can’t compare to the king’s wedding banquet Jesus talks about, especially when you realize Jesus is talking about the King of kings. When Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom,” he is talking about the experience of a lifetime—not just a lifetime but for eternity.
Unfortunately, some people don’t appreciate it. Jesus said,
“He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.” (Mt 22:3).
You might wonder if there were such people like that. Yes, there are people like that who don’t appreciate the ultimate beauty, excellence, and majesty. I am one of them. I can be easily pleased. If you give me a book and a backyard, I couldn’t care less about the king’s banquet. I always tell people that I like to vacation in my backyard. Now I realize I was that stupid, but I am learning. C. S. Lewis says,
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ~C. S. Lewis
It hit me when I first heard it. I was one of those children who wanted to go on making mud pies in a slum because I could not imagine what it meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. I am far too easily pleased. Yet, I discovered that I’m not alone.
Luke’s version of this parable has a little more details about why they reject the invitation,
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’” (Lk 14:18–20).
To sum up, they were all busy making mud pies. When you are too busy to celebrate and appreciate a king’s wedding, you are too busy. Their busyness makes them ignorant of their higher calling. Today, many people have even more excuses to miss the church.
The church is where the king’s wedding banquet takes place because the Bible says that the church is the Bride of Christ, but people are busy fixing their homes, mowing their lawns, and other mud-pie-making businesses.
When the banquet was ready, the king sent out the second invitation and encountered terrorism,
Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. (Mt 22:4-6).
Being indifferent to the invitation is one thing, but killing the messengers was too far. Busyness breeds ignorance, and ignorance leads to violence. You might ask, “How could anyone do that?” But history shows that people killed God’s messengers and prophets who came to invite people to a higher calling.
In the previous parable, the tenants of the vineyard murdered the servants who came to collect the produce, and they eventually even killed the owner’s son. But, in this parable, the slaves of the king didn’t ask for any payment. They were delivering an invitation. Still, they encounter murderous reactions. Just like Laozi said, wars break out because of Godlessness.
“The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.” (Mt 22:7).
In this allegory, the king represents God, and the destruction of those terrorists symbolizes hell. The definition of hell is Godlessness. Terrorism is Godlessness, even when done in God’s name. Taking God’s name in vain violates the third commandment.
Some people don’t believe in hell because they can’t imagine a gracious God sending people to hell. This parable reveals that hell is where those murderers choose to go. It means busyness could lead people to the hell they created themselves. That’s serious!
Then, the king invites anyone from the streets to fill his banquet hall.But there’s a little twist at the end of the parable.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22:11–14).
In some ancient cultures, the greeters at the gate put a stole or shaw on the guests as they arrived at the banquet. I visited a Tibetan village years ago in China. I was invited to a dinner party. As soon as I arrived, the host family brought me a bowl of water to wash my hands and put a silk stole on me.
Some people got a silver stole, and others got a gold one. Those who got a gold one were VIPs and dignitaries. I got a gold one. I don’t know why. I thought maybe it was because I am an American.
That experience allowed me to understand this parable. In this case, every guest gets a wedding robe. A robe was more elaborate than a stole since it was a king’s wedding. The robe proves you came through the gate, not climbed over the wall or sneaked in through the backdoor. Jesus says anyone who doesn’t enter through the gate is a thief.
Jesus also says, “I am the gate.” That means this thief entered heaven without passing through Jesus. Even though everyone was invited, it didn’t mean he could take a shortcut. Putting on the wedding robe symbolizes accepting the invitation and recognizing God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
The robe also symbolizes baptism because, according to tradition, the host’s servants would wash the guests’ feet as they entered the gate and then put a robe on them. So, wearing the robe also symbolizes they were clean. In other words, they were cleansed from sin through the blood of Christ.
So, two kinds of people can’t enter heaven—those who prioritize their busyness of mud-pie-making over God’s invitation to the higher calling and those who enter heaven with a dirty body without receiving the washing and robing at the gate. Jesus is the gate!
God’s higher calling is full of fun, like joining the king’s wedding banquet. Let’s not ignore the invitation by getting busy with making mud pies. Let’s seek God’s kingdom as our top priority and celebrate our higher calling because, when we do that, God promises to give us everything we need.
That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound freedom, purpose, and happiness.