09 Jul A Free Invitation
Do you remember as a child how good it felt to be invited over to someone’s house? Of course, it stills feels good to be invited as an adult. But there was something extra special and exciting about being invited to a party or a friend’s house to play.
I remember being most excited about seeing my friends, playing fun games, and laughing together. I also remember thinking about what snacks they might offer to share. If they had soft drinks, I would get especially excited because my mom rarely had softs drinks in our house. (I don’t blame her. My siblings and I could get really rambunctious with sugar in our systems.) I would think about the goody bags that my friends sent home with birthday party guests, imagining what sort of candy might be in there. All the thoughts running through my mind when an invitation was received were enough to make me squeal with delight!
The excitement that comes with invitation is just a shadow of what our Father does for us. Everyday, He issues us an invitation. No matter your age, background, sex, race, etc., you are invited to share in the deep waters of grace found in Him. You are invited to feast on the eternal life He offers. You are invited to pull up a seat at His table of faithfulness and provision. You are invited to a celebration brought about by a sure hope in Christ’s victory. Our Abba is the ultimate inviter.
“Because the invitation we received ourselves pointed us to Jesus, our invitation to others must point them to Jesus.”
There is a story of a beautiful invitation in John 4 when Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman as she is drawing water from the village well. Jesus is waiting by the well for his disciples to return from the city with food. A Samaritan woman walks up to the well, not expecting to interact with this man. Jews were known to hate Samaritans because of their history of intermingling with other cultures.
Jesus invites her into conversation by asking her for a drink of water, to which she inquires why he would ask this of her, a Samaritan woman. Jesus responds that if she really understood who he was, she would be asking him for a drink, and he would give her living water. The woman points out that he has nothing with which to draw water and asks where to get this living water of which he speaks. Jesus says to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This water that Jesus invites the woman to drink is himself, or his Spirit. We know this because of John 7: 37-39:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
God is the ultimate example of invitation because he invites us to receive himself, a gift that is eternal, saving, and filling. God invites us to Jesus and the work he did on the cross that enables our eternal life; it guarantees that we will be forever loved and accepted in the kingdom of God. God invites us to salvation through Jesus; He sanctifies and frees us from our enslavement to sin and satisfies the wrath of God. God invites us to fulfillment; when we accept his free gift, we “will never be thirsty again,” and out of our hearts “flow rivers of living water.” We are so filled with joy, we cannot help but overflow!
What is this substance which flows out of us when we receive God’s invitation? Rivers of living water. And what is this metaphorical water again? It is Jesus! The Spirit of Jesus flows out of our hearts and into the lives of people around us, showering them with grace and kindness. When we receive the gift of Jesus from the great Inviter, we then take on his character and begin to reach out in invitation as well. Our ability to invite is by grace and through grace.
This is the difference between our invitation and the world’s invitation. As Christians, we don’t invite others to just any gift. We don’t invite others in solely to provide them with friendship, or food, or shelter, although those things may be included. Since our invitation is an overflow of the invitation we received ourselves, it must look the same. Because the invitation we received ourselves pointed us to Jesus, our invitation to others must point them to Jesus.
What are your motives for being inviting? Is it in an effort to self promote, or are you pointing people to Jesus?