You’re invited! These are two words that, when offered by the right person, can be just the right medicine to lift our spirits. Chances are, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you can remember a time in your life when someone invited you to learn more about Jesus. Maybe they invited you to church or to a small group Bible study. Perhaps they invited you to dinner or coffee. Whatever the case, you were invited to be in the presence of that person, and subsequently invited to surrender to Jesus as Lord of your life.
If you are a Christian, you were invited to be one. You accepted the invitation, and since then, your life has never been the same. That’s it. That’s what’s so special about you and me. It’s not about us or anything we said or anything we did. It’s about Jesus and what He said and what He did. Since the dawn of creation, God has pursued a family of His own, with children of His own just to share his love with Him and with each other. That’s what the Bible is all about, that’s why Jesus came to die and rise from the dead, and that’s why whoever extended an invitation to you at some point in your life decided to extend that invite. They invited you because someone invited them. It’s word-of-mouth marketing at its finest, and it’s been going on for a couple of thousand years now. Invite begets invite which begets invites that beget even more invites! That’s what you and I received at some point in our lives, and that’s what the people around us every day need to receive as well. They need an invitation, and they need it from us.
To be clear, the invitation people need from us is not an invitation to an event or a place. They don’t need an invitation to your men’s breakfast or an invitation to your 31 Party. They don’t need an invite to a “lattes & gripes” session in the parking lot of the Starbucks that won’t let you in. They really don’t even need an invitation to your church with the cool new praise band or the funny pastor that just knows how to tell it like it is. What they need is an invitation to a Person. The people we see every day who are far from God need an invitation to meet Jesus. That’s what this life is all about. It’s one big rescue operation to see people escape the horrors of darkness and brokenness in this world and enter into a new story with Jesus as the center of their life.
Hope, mercy, grace, peace, love, and joy are available to us, and they’re available to anyone who is far from God. The question is, do we care enough to tell others where to find it? If we say we care, will we let go of our ego long enough to share our salvation story with others and to invite them into one of their own?
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been praying for those far from God, acknowledging them, serving them, and sharing our story with them. This week, your challenge is to invite them into a new story with Jesus as the center (as the Lord) of their life.
It’s important to realize that when you shared your story with that person who’s far from God, you gave them something special. You gave them a glimpse into a whole other world. You gave them a hint of hope amidst their hopelessness, a path to peace amidst their pain, and a sign of salvation amidst their suffering. You showed them the hope, peace, and salvation of Christ that is in you. And whether they expressed it or not, they want what you have. And why wouldn’t they? The person you shared your story with is an estranged child of God, either consciously or subconsciously yearning to get back to a right relationship with their Father, and until you came along, they thought all hope was lost.
Just think about the story of the prodigal son. Think about the thoughts and emotions in the hearts and minds of the father and the son in that story. The father could’ve responded in any way he wanted, and the son was fully expecting to be shunned, humiliated, and demoted by his father. But in what could be described as a jaw-dropping display of mercy and grace, the Father runs to his son to embrace him before he even finishes his trek toward the house. And what does the father meet him with? An invitation. An invitation to come in and celebrate his homecoming. An invitation to take his place in the house at the table with his father. An invitation to receive honor and dignity that he thought he’d totally lost forever. And this is what our friends and loved ones far from God need to know. Honor and dignity await them, not because they deserve it. They don’t, and neither do we. But you see, we don’t have to run from a god with limited love, we get to run to Jesus who has limitless love.
With that understood, the key for us is to realize that our surrender to Jesus as the center of our life makes all the difference in our story. Your friends who are far from God have a story too, only their’s is without Jesus at the center, currently marked by hopelessness, pain, and suffering.
My challenge for you this week is to invite those far from God into a new story, with Jesus as the center of their life. You might want to clarify and express to them that all the hope you have is a result of Jesus being at the center of your life, having complete and total control. Just as the prodigal son surrendered in humility to his father and came running back to him, we too have the fortunate, yet undeserved, divine privilege of humbling ourselves to our heavenly Father, saying yes to His leadership in our lives, and receiving the free gifts of forgiveness of sin and brand new life through Jesus. As you continue to Pray for PASSION, INVITE those far from God into a new story. They need an invitation, they need it from us, and they need it NOW!
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Rom. 10:14-15
P-PRAY for those far from God.
S-SHARE your story with them.
I-INVITE them into a new story.