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A Different Sort of Invitation

As you read the gospels, you notice Jesus doing a lot of different things. He heals the sick. He casts out demons. He teaches and shares parables. He eats and drinks and goes to people’s houses.

In all that living and ministry, He never once invites anyone to church.

He never mentions His killer children’s ministry, rockin’ music, or cell groups. Please don’t misunderstand me: there’s nothing wrong with any of those things or even inviting people to your church services, but we can’t let it be a substitute for how Jesus lived.

Jesus was moved with compassion and healed the blind. He redirected His disciples to Samaria just for an encounter with a forgotten woman. He teaches the crowd, not because He was the pastor but because they were like sheep without a shepherd and He loved them.

Some of those people followed Him. Some of them received their miracle (maybe even gratefully) but may have went on living their lives fairly normally. Jesus didn’t get mad or quit helping because He didn’t get the response He wanted. He based nothing on external value systems or metrics.

Jesus did what the Father told Him to do and lived submitted to eternal purposes His entire life (and death).

Having been the pastor of a congregation, I can speak from experience that you often want to see the fruit of your time and effort in people’s lives. I often marveled how you would spend so many hours or even months walking with people through the hardest times of their lives and then once they were past it, you couldn’t find them.

Sadly in those moments, I’ve wondered whether it was all worth it. They didn’t become a church member! I did all this to benefit them and then they just walked away! You may feel that way too (whether a pastor or not) that your loving people or helping them is a strategy for conversion or church attendance or something else, but can we truly love and trust God with the outcome?

In truth, Jesus never invited anyone to church, but He invited everyone to Church.

Little “c” church can be about our ego, competition, or selfishness while big “C” Church is only about Him. Everything He did was to reveal the Father and His heart. No agenda. No seeking any reciprocity.

He faithfully poured out what was given and in reality, that’s His invitation to us. Your loving, giving, and serving doesn’t have to be about you; it can be an extension of the Father’s love so that then you realize you’re freely giving what wasn’t yours to begin with.

His acts of love through others led you to see Him and you and I get the same opportunity.

What are your thoughts here? Have you ever been guilty of expecting an action from loving someone?

8 Comments

  1. I think we are all guilty of loving others with the expectation of getting something in return. But you are so right, Jason. This isn’t the love Jesus asks us to give; He wants us to love selflessly and completely just as He did. With God’s help, I pray that we all can.
    Blessings!

    • Believe me, I’m guilty too. Anytime I write challenges like this, I’m first preaching to myself. The standard of Jesus can’t be lived in our hardest efforts, but simply through surrender to Him. That’s what I have to remind myself! Thanks so much, Martha.

  2. Well said Jason. We lose sight of reality when we point people to “our things” instead of to Jesus. That should be enough to draw people.

    • Yeah and I think to be fair, we often are motivated by a desire to help in some way or make their lives better, but Jesus just did good for people and let it speak for itself. Whether they appreciated it or did anything else, He just loved. Thanks Bill.

  3. Thank you so much Jason! This post is SO important. Doing things for others with a selfless heart is amazing. Thank you for all you do, God Bless you!

    • Definitely “selfless” only comes from living in and loving like Him! Thanks so much, Jaylynn!

  4. Good one, Jason. I think we’re all guilty of this. In the church and outside of it. It’s in our fallen nature to expect payment for services rendered… even after we offered them for free…

    Excellent reminder of who we are and what He’s called us not just to do, but how to not count the worth of our actions… just as He doesn’t count His on our behalf.

    • I know. Feels like a losing battle at times because it’s so prevalent all around us--the expectation of some form of reciprocation that makes us feel we’ve “accomplished” something. Oh man, I’m trying to learn! It’s enough just to give and love and be there. Thanks Floyd.

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