Last night I had a dream. I dreamt that I invited people of many cultures, ages, stages of life and experience to come and dine at my home. To enjoy a meal together whilst sharing stories of life, humanity, joy, pain and triumph.
I dreamt that each person responded to my invitation no later than the requested reply date to either accept or decline. People valued my invitation. I didn’t have to chase anyone for an answer and I knew exactly who was attending with more than enough time to cater for them all.
It was at that point that I knew I was dreaming and so I awoke.
When did we become so poor at replying to invitations?
We used to be disappointed when people replied ‘no’. Now we’re just hoping people will reply.
We expected that most, if not all, people would reply to our invitation. Now we’re just thankful that they bothered to let us know that they’ve had a better offer.
When did that happen? Why did that happen?
Once upon a time replying to an invitation required a more deliberate effort. Yet I’m certain that people responded more readily and diligently.
You had to make a phone call on a fixed line handset that you couldn’t carry with you everywhere you went. Or, even more archaic, you had to handwrite on a card and post it (via snail mail! The horror!)
Now we can text, email, click a button on a website, use various smartphone apps, Facebook or tweet – the options are many. It’s easier than ever to let someone know if you’re attending their event or not.
My experience as someone who invites a lot of people to a lot of different things, is that the majority just don’t bother (and I have the data to prove it). I have to chase people relentlessly via various means to get any kind of response. Why? In the words of an ex-politician from Ipswich, please explain.
Do we have too many invitations? Do we have commitment issues? Are we waiting to see if we get a better offer before we decide which invitation we accept?
Are our lives too full?
Our time is so stretched. We covet time. And yet the very thing we covet for ourselves we don’t value for other people.
We want to be invited. It makes us feel important and valued.
Please invite me. Just don’t expect me to reply.
When Jesus invites His disciples to follow him there is no sense that they hesitate, weigh up their options, ignore the invitation, phone a friend and see if they’re attending too or go looking for a better offer. On the contrary, phrases such as ‘at once’ and ‘immediately’ are used.
No only did they respond to the invitation, they responded wholeheartedly.
Maybe it was an invitation they couldn’t refuse. At that time they didn’t truly understand who Jesus was. They didn’t know that the fulness of God dwelt in Him and that all things were created in Him and for Him. But they had a sense of Jesus’ greatness.
I know what Jesus’ first disciples came to know. I have accepted Jesus invitation to follow Him. I have accepted His invitation of forgiveness. I have accepted His invitation of grace. I have accepted His invitation of love. To love with Jesus and through Jesus.
And yet Jesus’ invitation is daily and in each moment.
His mercies are new EVERY morning.
He teaches us to pray give us this day our DAILY bread.
He sends us the Holy Spirit so that we can be in constant communion with Him and pray without ceasing.
He invites ALL who are weary and burdened to come to Him and receive rest.
He invites us to go into the world and love people as He loved them.
How often do I fail to respond to Jesus’ invitation? How often do I refuse or ignore His daily invitation for my life?
Far more frequently than I care to admit.
Why is this the case? There are so many reasons…
Jesus’ invitation to us is not just a one-off or to a closed group. His invitation is daily for all.
Love invites us to be part of a bigger story. God’s story.
Love invites us into relationship with the living God.
Love invites us into relationship with each other.
Love invites us to respond, to participate.
Love doesn’t wait to be invited, love initiates invitation.
What is Jesus’ invitation to you today?
Will you respond?
How will you respond?