A friend reminded me of something this week. I coined a term, he suggested the idea. It’s important that you don’t think that before you wind up in the presence of the Lord you have the responsibility of making yourself absolutely spic and span. In terms of connecting with the Lord, it is essentially a "come as you are party." You are never going to be able to do the heavy lifting required to be clean in his presence. He does that, you don't. He extends the invitation, you accept it. It's a come as you are party. There are two parables that the Lord told, and I want to put them together to help illustrate the point. One is in Matthew chapter 22. It's a parable about a wedding feast. The Lord in that parable talks about how the folks who were invited wouldn't show up. Because the folks who were invited wouldn't show up, in invitation was extended to essentially whoever was out on the streets. The folks who were out on the streets were brought in. Let's begin at verse 8 of chapter 22, “Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.” He is telling a story, largely about a condition that persists whenever you find a functioning religious organization. Institutions have a way of having their own cares. Joseph Smith was a disastrous businessman. He created financial debacle after financial debacle. The notorious one was the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-banking Association. Anti, because they couldn't get the bank charter. If you file for bankruptcy in the state of Utah, one of the things that one of the local bankruptcy judges has done at the discharge hearings, in order to help people feel better about themselves, is to remind people that at the time of his death Joseph Smith had a pending petition in bankruptcy. That is supposed to salve the conscience of those who find themselves in that extremity.
The fact is Joseph was not a particularly good businessman because he didn't care for business. He wound up giving away his inventory to needy folks, rather than trying to profit off the needs of the Saints. There was some exasperation about that in his family, among his peers, and among LDS historians. Well, we fixed that. We have managing the church, and attending to the financial interests of the kingdom (as we call it now), those that are more than qualified financially. I suspect a profligate like Joseph Smith would be unsuitable for church management today.
In any event, the parable starts with the Lord trying to get people to come to the wedding, telling the servants that it's ready, but the ones that I've asked are not worthy. “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways,…” [It's always the servants, always angels who do this work. They do the gathering.] “…and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:8-13.
So I want to put that on the table. In this part of this parable you have anyone who will come being invited, because the people who were targeted for attendance simply aren't worthy to come. So anyone gets to come. But you have among them one who doesn't have on a wedding garment. For that I want to refer you to Luke chapter 15. In Luke chapter 15, we run into the Lord talking about a robe being supplied. This about the son who found himself having been in a far-off land, filling his belly “with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” [Look at what happens in Luke 15:22 when he goes back to his father.] “But the father said to his servants, [Again it's the angels who do this.] Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:”
You see, this has to be kept in mind whenever you're looking at someone who has arrived at the feast, bidden from the highway, and doesn't have on the robe. The Master is the one who wants you to wear it. The Master is one who will furnish it. Don't think the purpose of the Lord is to judge. The purpose of the Lord is to redeem, and for that purpose, he is infinitely patient and willing, if you will respond with forgiveness of your sins, as He does consistently throughout the Book Mormon.
The formal invitation (through His church) is not accepted. The members just aren’t interested. Therefore He invites everyone else, even the stranger. These people are unprepared, having not anticipated they were going to a wedding. Therefore one of them was unsuited. This is a powerful lesson about the Lord’s intentions when it comes to His great day of judgment. It ought to help us put into perspective how little an organized invitation (through His church) will matter in the end. It is His presence that matters, after all.
(40 Years in Mormonism, Faith)