Romans 10:14 (NIV) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
In 2005 Hollywood released a movie titled Wedding Crashers. I have never seen it, but I think the gist of it is as follows: A couple of guys make it their regular practice to “attend” wedding receptions (not sure if they go to the wedding ceremony) even though they were not invited, or even known by the bride and groom and their families. They capably “melt in” and, because the guest list is large, few people (or no one) question their “right” to be there. Their motives are probably along the lines of obtaining great food, free alcohol, and women with whom they can have sex (this is, after all, Hollywood). Since the movie is a comedy, they probably get in trouble at some point and it’s all played for laughs.
My guesses may be right on or a bit off, but I want to reference this movie plot as an illustration about the idea of being invited (versus not being invited). Perhaps you have been in the situation of being asked why you weren’t at a particular event and your answer was simply, “I wasn’t invited.” If you are not on a guest list or do not receive an invitation, it is possible then that you would not even know about it, or unlikely that you – a normal person – would attempt to “crash” the event/party. You may feel bad or glad that you weren’t invited, but you would not likely try to force your way in. In the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22 Jesus describes a father of a groom (a king) coming across a “guest” who didn’t have proper wedding garments – something he would have received as part of a proper invitation. The king has his servants tie the guy up and throw him out. Jesus concludes the parable with the words, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Any person who thinks he will get to heaven apart from being clothed with the righteousness of Christ (wearing his own garments - trusting in his own works/righteousness) will be in for a sad awakening, for it is only by Christ’s perfect righteousness that we have any hope of heaven. The invitation of God is an invitation of grace – of trusting in Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sins and for being made right with God. It is not an invitation to those who have become good enough in their own eyes or worthy because of something they have done. It’s an invitation to sinners. It has been referred to by some as an “engraved” invitation, having the idea that God’s invitation is engraved in the hands and feet of Jesus as He dies as our substitute on the cross, the ultimate expression of God’s love,… or also that the invitation is engraved with His own blood.
Heaven cannot be “crashed”. No one would be clever enough, strong enough, or good enough. Heaven is available on God’s terms, not ours. And His “terms” are grace… by faith in His Son Jesus. The Church is in the inviting business. We are called to pass on God’s invitation to men and women and children so that they might understand His grace and respond. God knows who will respond, and His grace makes that response possible. Ultimately, it is not even our invitation. It is God’s. But God uses us in the delivery. Inviting people into our lives and building relationships can lead at some point to the opportunity to invite them to consider Christ. It could include an invitation to church or to a small group or to church related events. Almost all people who are Christians are Christians because at some point they were invited by a Christian to one or more places or occasions at which they were exposed to the Gospel. Many people have never been invited to a church worship service or church-related event/activity. And not all will respond “yes” to an invitation. But some will. And God may use that to draw them to Himself. This is why we invite.
We have something to offer. Are we an inviting people, or are we spiritual hoarders? God’s invitation is generous, so let us be generous in heart to open our homes, our lives, and our church to people as well, so that we may also invite them out of a sincere love to know Christ.
John 1:40-41, 45-46 (NIV) 40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.
Luke 14:21-23 (NIV) 21 "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 22 "'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' 23 "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.
Isaiah 55:1-3 (NIV) 1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
PRAYER: Lord God, thank you for your great generosity to me in Christ. Thank you for the person(s) you used to invite me to know you and to receive your grace. Lead me to be an inviter as well. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.”
Jesus Christ is Lord!