14
Jul
09

An open invitation from Jesus

Just today I was talking to a friend of mine about what a true relationship with Jesus looks like. It’s far removed from most peoples’ understanding, including many believers’, of what it is. It’s not a boring, strict, rule-based relationship. It’s vibrant. It’s life. It’s based on desire and honoring who we are as people.

Jesus extends two invitations. The first one is for all people. The invitation is to come to him and be transformed, be saved, become a new person. It’s the invitation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many accept it and are transformed into new creations with their primary citizenship in the kingdom of God. Others reject it and refuse to admit that they are in need of a Savior.

There is another invitation that Jesus extends to his followers:

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest“(Matthew 11:28)

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door. I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20)

“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)

bench

It’s an invitation to enter into a close relationship with Jesus. It’s an invitation to allow him to be the Shepherd, the one who knows best, the one who is in charge, and us just to be the sheep following Jesus accepting that we don’t know best, and that Jesus is always looking out for our good no matter how painful the road we’re walking may feel.

But it is just that. It’s an invitation. It’s not a command. You don’t have to follow Christ. You don’t have to come to him and experience rest, freedom, joy and healing. If you choose to go your own way, even though his way is best, you are free to do that. You will be miserable. You will be missing out on the fullness of God’s blessings in your life. You will always feel that “the abundant life” (John 10:10) is an illusion. In Greek the same word that is used for commandment in the New Testament also means prescription. And that describes our relationship with Christ. He is the doctor. We come to him, hurting and sick, and he prescribes what will lead to a better and richer life for us. But we don’t have to take that medicine. We don’t have to surrender to his wisdom. We can choose to continue to exist as sick people instead of living as healed people.

Jesus is a gentleman through and through. He doesn’t force himself onto us. We don’t have to be close to him. John put his head on Jesus’ chest and heard his heartbeat (John 13), but the other 11 disciples never came that close. John just answered the call from Christ to come close to him and get to know him, and at the end of his life John’s primary way of describing himself in his Gospel was “the disciple Jesus loved“. The same John that used to be known as the Son of Thunder (Mark 3:17) ended his life as the apostle of love, because Jesus transformed him.

But you don’t have to be transformed. You can choose to live in the frustration and absolute mediocrity that follows when you choose to live in your flesh, and choose to walk contrary to who you really are. Paul describes this situation so eloquently in Romans 7, and unfortunately too many Christians mistakingly believe that Paul in that chapter is describing a “as good as it gets”scenario for a believer, when in fact he is doing the exact opposite! Romans 7 is just a description of how your life will look like when you’re trusting in yourself, your own resources and whatever you can muster up to live a good life. It’s misery, because it’s based on your flesh. It will never lead to the Normal Christian Life which Paul describes in Romans 8.

If you and I want intimacy with Christ there is only one condition: we have to accept that we cannot experience intimacy if we continue to ignore what he is trying to tell us! If we continue to live in ways that’s contrary to who we really are (which is the biblical definition of a hypocrite!), we will not experience the closeness, the intimacy, the vulnerability and the safety and peace that Christ offers to his followers. If we continue to walk our own way, we will not experience the fullness of the life and the new reality that Christ has bought for us. It’s not a matter of losing your salvation. If you are a believer that gift has been given to you, and it will never be taken away from you. But if you never unpack that gift, you don’t get much out of it in this life. You simply miss out on the fullness of the blessings of life in the kingdom of God.

But it is an open invitation. You can say no. But the invitation is there. It’s not for an elite group of believers. It’s for all of us. Jesus desires intimacy with all his children. Jesus desires honest relationship. Jesus desires for you to walk the way that he has set out for you. It will be the one leading to the life that you truly want. You may not understand that or feel that. But that’s the truth. Jesus is, after all the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Outside of his best will for your life, you will not experience the life you’re looking for.

Jesus invites you today. What are you going to say??

Blessings, Torben

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