For the last two weeks I’ve tried to make the case that our Christian faith compels us to go out of our way to show signs of God’s love for others and that creating the space where we can know and be known by people is a requirement we should place upon ourselves. This week, I want to press a little further on one particular practice for making both of these things happen. That practice is the invitation to act.
If we look through the gospels, we’ll find that invitations take several different forms. Jesus invites the disciples to follow him in the form of a command, “Come follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” The invitation became the occasion for the disciples to take on a whole new way of life. Jesus is invited to dinner by a Pharisee, which turns into an occasion for questioning some of the laws at the very heart of Jewish practice and belief. The parable of invitation to the wedding banquet is used as an occasion to express the radically different type of community into which God calls us in response to the work God has done in us.
These are some of the deep, rich, and transformative ways that people experience invitation in the gospels – a new way to live, a new way to think, a new people to love. I think we too often get bogged down in the details of invitation as information sharing or merely getting the word out. It’s true that you do have to get the word out, even Jesus was invited to something in particular, but when that’s the focus of what we’re doing it’s far too easy to notice all the frustrations and problems that come alongside trying to get your information heard in a culture that is infinitely saturated with invitations to do or buy something. Take a minute to reflect on what form of invitation has had the most effect on you; not just what gets the information across, but what are those things in your life that have actually challenged and changed who you are.
What is the most effective way you’ve experienced invitation in your life?