In the New Testament, Jesus shows up and fights for his right to party. We repeatedly see Jesus at parties. So much so, it led to an accusation the religious leaders made against him: “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19).
Jesus also compared God’s kingdom to a party and, in a famous trilogy of stories, taught that when someone turns to God, a party breaks out in heaven (Luke 15).
Don’t miss this: in the Bible, there’s a clear and consistent party theology. Missiologist† Alan Hirsh says, “Party is sacrament.”1 Sacraments are the significant, long-held practices or ceremonies that set the church apart and hold the church together. Sacraments include baptism, taking the Lord’s Supper, marriage, and . . . partying? If you google “Christian sacraments,” you won’t find partying on any list, but maybe that’s a problem.
Could it be we have lost something vital God wants for his people?
It reminds me of something I experienced a couple years ago after a church service. A man came up and informed me, “I think somebody should say something to the young man who walked forward wearing a baseball cap. It’s really not appropriate to wear that baseball cap in church.”
I examined his face to make sure he wasn’t joking. He wasn’t.
I said, “Oh, you mean the young man who didn’t grow up in church but walked forward to give his life to Christ and be baptized? You want me to say something to him about the baseball cap he was wearing?”
He apparently wasn’t fluent in sarcasm because he responded, “Yeah! Somebody should say something to him.”
My adrenaline increased and hit a place where I knew I needed to walk away and find a later opportunity to correct his thinking.
Maybe in a book or something.
I think that upset man represents so many Christians who have lost the celebratory spirit that led God to require partying in the Old Testament and Jesus to repeatedly go to and talk about parties in the New Testament.
Party-less Christians today may represent the Pharisees in Jesus’s day, who lost the heart of God and made their faith about keeping rules and traditions. Jesus showed up to destroy what the Pharisees had made of religion. He came and brought partying back.
It turns out that throwing a party is one of the best ways to influence and value people one at a time.
Idleman, Kyle. 2022. One at a Time: The Unexpected Way God Wants to Use You to Change the World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
We have just released a new Bible Study based on Kyle Idleman’s book, One at a Time. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.