There’s a knock at the door. It’s Jesus. Surprise visit and he’ll be staying for a week.
Imagine if it was true, how would your life change? Would it even change? Would the surprise visit feel like a surprise inspection? Would angry Jesus show up and blast you for the empty rooms in your house, no connection with your neighbours, or too much food in the fridge? Or would gracious Jesus show up and not even think about the mess in the laundry room or the chocolate bar stash? Would you hide him or invite the whole neighborhood to your home for a visit. Then again, Jesus might attract some unsavoury characters, you’d have to open your home to complete strangers.
Truth be told we’d all conduct a mental checklist for things in our lives we’ve been neglecting, but Jesus probably wouldn’t bring it up.
Thankfully, Jesus is not looking for a home in order before offering transformation. However, followers must respond to his invitation by participating in the unfolding hope for our world. Some would simply say you cannot claim to be a follower of Jesus if you do not respond to the invitation to live out his character.
There a number of core invitations God puts forth, whether we respond with, “yes” is our tension to struggle with.
The grandest of the invitation is participating in the grand hope: the dream God has for all of creation to one day right all the wrongs. This hope for the ultimate ‘Kingdom’ of God has remained the same since creation and will not change until the restoration of all things. We get to participate in that unfolding story by previewing and glimpsing our own Kingdom moments.
Sounds daunting? Don’t worry, you have all the qualifications. In the letter to the Ephesians we find out everyone is given gifts to help build the church–the people who reflect God’s invitation of a life in pursuit of humility, love, justice, and more.
Jesus has specific invitations as well. Matt 28:18-20 is the ‘Great Commission’ where all are called to make disciples. Later in Acts 1:6-8 all are called to be witnesses to his life. ( Notice that the invitation isn’t the individualized and internalized, ‘Jesus to come into my heart’ conversion experience we’ve reduced evangelical Christianity to.)
To deny these callings, to say, ‘no’ to God’s invitation is a faith that’s critically stuck. So the tension we face is: how are we responding?
When we’re confronted with this kind of tension our first response tends to be one of guilt. Our solution then becomes figuring out ways to add more things in our already busy schedules to compensate. There may be places in our lives that require re-orientation, however, sometimes we get unnecessarily bogged down by more ‘stuff’ rather than looking at what we’re already doing.
Maybe the way we can respond ‘yes’ to God’s invitation is to offer invitation for other people to come alongside our own lives as we live out what it means to capture the dream God has for our neighborhoods and beyond. That’s not ‘ministry’ or ‘outreach events’ that the church sponsors, rather, what are we already doing in the places we already exist: work, school, groups, neighbors, etc.
Believe it or not we make a bigger difference than we care to admit. You may not think so, heck, you may be struggling with pieces of your faith. But Jesus followers, no matter the size, are indeed different, for the right reasons, and we should give ourselves a bit more credit for, in our broken way, this pursuit in our lives.
What if Jesus showed up unexpectedly and asked, “where are you already connected and how are you previewing Kingdom by going deeper in relationship with others?” How would you respond? If the answer is, “nobody” it’s time for soul searching. If it’s just your church friends our family it could be time to branch out. But rather than adding new, chances are you’re already connected in different places, spaces, and people. Be encouraged that even in small ways you can and are making a difference by saying, “yes” to Kingdom moments in your midst.