We have all received an invitation to something in our lifetimes. Sometimes we are delighted to receive them in the mail… and other times a sense of dread or obligation comes along with an invitation.
One time interestingly enough I received an invitation for a black tie event for business professionals in the nearest major city to me. Needless to say I was confused and felt very unqualified. I made every excuse to not attend… and I didn’t. Today I wonder what the mix up was, but also what opportunities or connections would have come from that banquet.
John 3:16-17 says,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
We see in the above passages out of John an invitation to believe and be saved offered by Jesus and the sacrifice He paid. How many of us treat the invitation offered by Jesus in the same way that I treated the black tie event? Maybe we feel unqualified, inadequate, or we are just full of excuses?
Maybe the expectations have been placed too high? Or we’ve been hurt or let down before and we are timid to put ourselves in that position again? Maybe we feel like we aren’t there yet… like we are too much of a project? Maybe you are like me and you feel inadequate or not qualified enough to “mix it up” with the “professionals?”
One of my favorite writers, C.S. Lewis, said,
God doesn’t want something from us, He simply wants us.
There is no mistake. The invitation is yours.
That invitation may be to approach Jesus for the first time… or maybe you are already a Believer and the invitation for you is to take the “next step” and allow Jesus to not only be your savior, but also to be the Lord of your life.
Let’s think together.
Come as you Are
Revelation 22:17 says,
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
We have an open invitation: “Come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” In these and other verses in Scripture, the clear implication is that, even though we are sinners, God desires us to come to Him as we are, so that He can cleanse us.
In one of my Matt Maher songs he says this,
For all the thirsty in need of the river
For all the sleeping hearts waking from their slumber
For everyone still standing at the shoreline, come
For all the hurting souls running from their healer
For all the skeptics running from an answer
Let everyone who hears these words say come
For the Spirit and the Bride say come
For all the Pharisees, empty on the inside
For all the lovers who spent their love on a lie
For the forgotten, the Father’s heart says come
For all the fatherless looking for approval
For all the daughters who’ve never heard they’re beautiful
Let everyone who hears these words say come
For the Spirit and the Bride say come
In Joel 2:32a says
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
God’s offer of deliverance is open to “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord.” If we go to the examples of how Jesus dealt with the sinners He encountered we realize that there is no mistake… the invitation is ours and it is genuine!
You know, sometimes we receive those invitations with “fine print.” Maybe we are expected to bring something… a gift, food, etc. Those invitations come with requirements or obligations.
Sometimes us “well-meaning Christians” do that exact same thing. We tell people that they have to “clean up their lives” before God will accept them, but that is not what we see in Scripture. We can come as we are! The invitation has no fine print!
John 8:1-11 says,
They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, He told her, “Go, and sin no more.” The sin was never excused or ignored, but forgiveness was offered to anyone who recognized his sin and was willing to confess and forsake it. God certainly expects us to leave our sin, but that comes as a part of our salvation, not as a prerequisite. We are not able to clean ourselves up without God’s help.
John 6:37 says,
Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.
You’ve met the Prerequisites
The worst part about college was figuring out what order I had to take all of the classes in order to fit them into a four-year schedule and complete my degree(s) on time. It seems simple… but in reality some classes are only offered at certain times and rotate yearly, other classes have requirements that have to be completed before you are allowed to enroll in them, they are called prerequisites.
Above we discussed the open call or invitation that is offered to us through Christ, and how we didn’t have to “meet” any sort of requirement in order to respond accordingly. In fact, through Jesus we have already met the “prerequisites.” We are all sinners in need of grace. Grace that only faith in Jesus can offer.
In Isaiah 1:18 it says,
Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
God offers the invitation to come, bring your sins and burdens and lay them at the foot of the cross. No matter how far you gone or how broken you are.
There is a story in John 4 that goes like this,
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said 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.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.
Jesus didn’t and still doesn’t flee from the imperfect… instead He sits beside them and offers “living water” out of love. You know… I often wonder how Jesus loved some of the most unlovable characters. John 3:16 makes it sound easy, when in fact, loving the world wasn’t easy at all! Another story in John 4:46-53 goes like this,
So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household.
In this passage we find Jesus interacting with a father who longs for his son to be healed. The only problem is that this father is also an official in Herod’s court. The same Herod who kills John the Baptist, and who is a direct threat to Jesus! But again, Jesus loves the unlovable. He truly “loves His enemies as Himself.”
What do we have to lose? Maybe some pain and guilt?
If you are already a believer what are you withholding from the Lord. Let Him take it.
Leave Something and Take Something
As a kid the best part about attending a birthday party was the “goodie bags” typically offered at the end. The best part about an invitation from Jesus is that we don’t leave the party “empty-handed.”
Matthew 11:28 says,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
We all bring our own baggage to the party, but the “take home bag” is the same. We can come and bring our junk, lay it down, and take up an inheritance.
Come as you are and allow God to change who you are.
In all of this I am not saying that it is okay to remain in rebellion, but I am saying that true faith in Christ alone will change your life. Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are because God is working in true believers.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says,
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Galatians 2:20 says,
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I will close with these often sung words from David Crowder,
Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal
So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame
All who are broken lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home, you’re not too far
So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart
Come as you are
There’s hope for the hopeless and all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table, come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary, rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t cure