"For many are called but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14, NLT, emphasis added).
In Matthew 22, Jesus shares a secret of how the kingdom of God works by telling a story. There are five groups of people in this story that illustrate how one can move from being the called to the chosen. They are sent a grand invitation to a king's wedding feast. What would you do if you were invited to a king's wedding feast? Their response to his royal invitation shows the value they placed on the king. Here are the five groups of people:
The Called Who Refuse to Respond
“The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!" (vv. 2-3).
This is an invitation to a royal wedding feast, yet they refuse to attend. Their hearts show a blatant disregard for the king. Their response says the royal invitation isn't worthy of their time.
The Called Who Ignore the Invitation
“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business" (vv. 4-5).
The royal invitation is ignored by those who are too busy and entangled with their responsibilities and businesses. Everyday He calls out to us. Do we ignore His royal invitation with our busyness?
The Called Who Kill the Messengers
"Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them" (v. 6). This is the ultimate insult—to kill the king's messengers. The king is furious and sends his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town (v. 7).
The Unworthy Who Respond
"'Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests" (vv. 9-10).
The king expands his guest list to include the good and bad alike. Everyone is invited to the wedding feast. Everyone is called.
The Unworthy Who Are Called but Not Dressed Appropriately
“But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’" (vv. 11-13).
It was customary for the king to provide wedding garments for his guests. To not wear the garments the host provided was considered an outright insult worthy of severe punishment. The guest with no wedding clothes is banished.
From this passage, we know that Jesus is speaking prophetically to the Jews who had rejected and persecuted Him. He came to His own and was treated like an outcast.
From these responses, here's how we can move from being called to chosen.
Respond to Him Like He Is a King
Giving honor, worshipping and treating Him like a king will make you stand out. When the president walks into a room, everyone knows it. He walks in with an entourage and is given honor regardless of anyone's personal politics.
I had the honor of hosting Barbara Bush, the wife of former President George Bush. She had a corps of security guards around her. I adjusted everything for her when I hosted her. If I had a bad day, it didn't matter. Mrs. Bush was on the scene. In the same way, we can learn how to respond to Jesus like He is a king.
A king doesn't take orders. He gives orders. A king doesn't want to hear about your past or how bad of a day you're having. A king has a job that needs to be done. There is a time for relationship with the king, but that grows with time. There is a protocol for entering a king's presence and leaving his presence.
Be Ready to Respond to Him Always
When you're working for a king, you're working 24/7. He can summon you at any time. Be available to respond to the king anytime, anywhere. I responded to the call of the King by moving to Kansas City in 2000. I left my husband and children for a brief season to move, and it was hard. But the King had called me, and I responded.
I listen throughout the day for gentle promptings from the King to encourage someone, pray for someone, call someone. You see, the King is the servant of the people. The morale and health of the people are always on His mind. When you think like a king, you're thinking about someone else.
Learn About the King
Learn how the King thinks, how He acts and how He responds. Spend time in His Word. Spend time in prayer and worship. There is no shortcut to building a relationship with the King. Your pastor or your church leader can't do this for you. You have to dig into the Scriptures. You have to spend time in worship. You have to pray.
Dress for the King
Wear your royal garments provided by the King. What does this mean—to wear your royal garments? Take up your authority on behalf of the King. Exercise His authority over your life. If you belong to Him, then act like it. So many Christians think and live like orphans. This is so degrading to the King of kings because it sends a message to the enemy that we don't believe Him.
Believe that He is the King, and dress for Him by wearing your royal robes of righteousness and your clothing of salvation that He has provided.
"I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels" (Is. 61:10).
When you treat Him like a king—which is rare and will make you instantly stand out—and consistently respond to Him and show a hunger for His ways, you will become the chosen. You will enjoy the royal feast of His presence. Having the King in your life brings royal benefits, such as prosperity, His presence and His authority.
Make way for the King in your life. Become the chosen.
Leilani Haywood is editor of SpiritLed Woman and a frequent contributor to Charisma. She is a Kansas City, Mo.-based award-winning writer and columnist. She has been published in the Kansas City Star, Metro Voice and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @leilanihaywood.