Recently we hosted a webinar looking at the issue of invitation, and the key elements of it, and it drew out some interesting thoughts, some of which we look at here:
1: Gods invitation to us: God is a missional God, Jesus came to Earth, Son of God coming to us, and Jesus promised that the father would send his spirit, so God is a missional god. As a missional God, he invites us to join in with all that he is doing. The challenge for us is to actually be paying attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. We live in a culture so full of activity, competing voices, culture claims, and an instant media world, so the challenge for us is to stop, wait, listen, pay attention, learn what it actually means to hear the fathers voice. Once we do that, then we will have a better idea of what it is that God is inviting us into. This could actually mean that we need to stop doing some things, and as Jesus himself said, maybe we should only be doing what the father asks us to do?
2: Who are we inviting on the journey? Jesus invited an initial 12 to go on a journey with him, he modelled invitation, but do we do that? Do we invite people on to a journey, or do we invite people to an event? Discipleship is a life long journey, and so there is a challenge for us to look at what are we inviting people too? Is it a journey, or is it an event? If Jesus invited people onto a journey, should we be doing less event, and invite on to more journey?
But there is a secondary issue here, and that is us actually actively inviting in the first place. Do we believe in our heart of hearts that the journey with Jesus is something worth inviting people on too? If our relationship with God is truly that, a relationship, but a life-changing relationship, why do we not invite people on to that journey? We appear to be an invitation oversee Church. We need to be more confident in our relationship with God, and that it is open for anyone. Jesus did say, “for God so loved the world, that whoever believed in him would not perish, but have eternal life.” The invitation is there for all, so we should be inviters.
3: Who is inviting us into their story? Jesus himself didn’t just do the inviting, but people invited him. They invited him into their houses, to their meals, into their communities. Where are people inviting us into their story? It isn’t just about us doing the inviting, but it is also about us being aware of invitation to us also. Jesus received, and acted upon invitations, we should be ready to receive and go to where the invitations are placed. This links in with God being a missional God, as people invite him into their lives, he goes, the spirit is looking out for those hearts that are open, and inviting him in. If God responds to invitation then why do we not go, respond to invitation from others?
4: Not everyone was invited: One thing that is there in the gospels, is that when Jesus met with people, whether in their healing, or feeding, or teaching, when they accepted him for who he was, Jesus didn’t always invite them to come on the journey there and then with him. He often told people to go! Go back to where they came from! This is a challenge, because maybe not everyone we encounter and converse with is someone we should invite on our journey. Maybe some we are meant to send elsewhere! Maybe some even invite themselves onto our journey, and they don’t need to be, or shouldn’t be on the journey with us. This is where we need wisdom and discernment, as to who is meant to be on the journey with us, and who are we meant to send elsewhere for want of a better phrase.
So invitation may be something that we are aware of, but there are things for us to process, be aware of, and look to God for his guidance. Where are you being invited today, and who are you inviting?
Gloucester Centre of Mission