By Andrew Arrol
I felt the snow seeping into the knee of my jeans. The rest of the world had stopped. Is this what it felt like to ask someone to marry you?
I had dreamed of this day for years. I was finally asking the girl of my dreams to marry me. I had the ring. I had her friend recording the proposal. I had psyched myself up.
I was ready to extend my most valuable invitation.
So where were the fireworks? Where was the music? Why were we not crying like you see in all the viral proposal videos?
I was cold. My girlfriend was laughing. There were two people who had followed us that we didn’t know. And there is no recording of any of this to prove that yes, my now wife laughed the whole time because she’s the best. (Seriously, her laugh is the best)
I was extending the most important invitation of my life, but it wasn’t turning out exactly the way I pictured it. So looking back now, why would I not change a single thing?
When we extend an invitation, we usually extend our expectations as well.
We expect we’ll say everything right. We expect that we’ve thought of everything that could possibly matter. We expect that special person to know they’re special, or if we’re honest, that they should feel lucky to be receiving an invitation to coffee, dinner at our house, wedding, or even to our church.
We come in thinking we’re doing this person a favor, that we’re going to experience total joy as this person responds with unending gratitude and emotion. We overcome many obstacles to extend invitations whether personal or practical, so when the moment comes, we hope for the best. This makes us vulnerable, open to potential pain & frustration.
This is why so many of us choose to forego invitations altogether.
Why invite when we can be insulated?
No, I won’t invite you to coffee after work because what if you say no and I become the lonely office dweller?
No, I won’t invite you into my home because what if you don’t like it? What if you think it’s too small or too big or too messy or too clean? What if you glimpse a part of me I don’t want to share?
No, I won’t invite you to marry me because commitment is scary, what if we don’t like each other 3 months or 3 years from now?
No, I won’t invite you into my life, into my community, because I don’t want things to change. I don’t want my church to change. I don’t want my small group to change. I don’t want to extend the energy needed to invest in your life.
If we’re honest, this is where a lot of us are right now.
We’re scared to invite people in. We’re scared to be vulnerable. We’re scared about potential change.
This isn’t a preference issue, this is a purpose issue.
We need to let go of our preferences and look at the potential.
Our purpose is to live as fully devoted followers who make other fully devoted followers.
1 John 4:8 says “Perfect love casts out all fear.” As followers of Jesus, we make every effort, empowered by the Spirit, to follow & embody that love.
One of the greatest risks we can take, one of the greatest acts of love we can make, is extending an invitation without expectations.
Invite someone into your life. It doesn’t have to start out with a big emotional plea. It can just be coffee. Or working out together. Or coming over for dinner. Or checking out a Sunday morning service because the topic is relevant.
Whatever it is, find a way to follow the Master Inviter, the One who invites us all to follow Him. Be vulnerable. Let your fear be cast out. Invite someone into your life this week.
Have you ever met someone (other than Jesus) that completely changed your life? Who were they and how did your life change because of meeting them?
Tell about a time you didn’t get invited to something and felt excluded. How did you handle it? What did you do?
Read Luke 19:1-10
The religious leaders didn’t think Zacchaeus deserved to have Jesus talk with him. Do you ever struggle with the attitude that some people deserve grace and others are too far fallen away? What can you do to fight against this attitude?
In this passage, we see that Jesus knew Zacchaeus and called him by name before inviting himself to dinner. Everyone wants to be known and everyone wants to be invited. Who in your life need to be seen, known, and invited? What are you going to do about it??
How do you feel about the idea that God wants to use you to change someone’s life by inviting them to know Him? What are some excuses you make that keep you from doing that? What can you do to overcome those barriers?
Zacchaeus did whatever it took to see Jesus- including climbing a tree! Are you straining to see Jesus? What can you do to see more of Him in your life and home? Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Why or why not?
Continue to pray for Berks! Pray for God to open our hearts and the hearts of those we engage with. Pray for God to show you someone in your life that needs to feel seen, known, and invited.