Dear Campbell UMC,
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
Jesus invited. He called out to people and asked them to follow him. He went to people in their “natural habitat” and asked them to enter into a new life, a life in relationship with God. Jesus did not wait for people to discover him, he went directly to people and extended the invitation personally.
There is a beautiful worship song called The Summons that asks, “Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same? Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known, will let my life be grown in you and you in me?”
Have you ever asked yourself how you would respond to Jesus if this very minute he walked into the room where you are and invited you to follow him? Would you go? Would you politely offer him a Dr. Pepper and try to make small talk? Would you phone 911 and announce an intruder in your home?
Take your self-examination a step further: How are you allowing the invitational attitude of Jesus shape your own discipleship? When is the last time you invited someone to attend worship with you? How long has it been since you talked about your faith with a friend in a casual conversation? When is the last time you shared the love of Christ with a stranger?
Invitation is a multi-layered concept. We are invited by Christ to follow, and following Christ includes inviting others, as well. Invitation is one of the facets of discipleship, and one that we need continual encouragement to undertake. To be like Jesus, we ought not simply wait for people to come, but go out into the “natural habitat” and invite people in.
Inviting people to church is different from inviting people to God. Ultimately, it is the latter emphasis that is our priority. Inviting people to church is simply a means by which we invite them to God. However, it is much easier for us to invite people to church than to invite them to God. And anyway, if we will invite them to church, maybe we could trust God to do the rest!
Jesus invited – And so should we.
Grace and Peace, Andy B.