The Invitation Roller Coaster Ride
Do you get excited when you receive an invitation? There are many different invitation types that we can receive. The most casual ones usually consist of a verbal, email, or text invitation to dinner or to accompany an event with a friend. However, special invitations are the ones that arrive in the mail. These invitations arrive with a thrill of anticipation as you pull from the post box that certain-sized envelope that is sure to inform you about a special event that you are asked to be part of through a magnificently designed invitation.
You can tell a lot about an event before you ever read the information simply from the design of the invitation. A brightly colored design full of boldness most likely indicates a fun but casual event. An invitation with lots of envelopes, thick paper, and elegant writing in gold or silver leaf always accompanies a formal affair. Unfortunately, much of the time, however, an invitation indicates a need for something reciprocal in return. Some type of obligatory gift to show your appreciation for being included in the festivities; most often a birthday, graduation, baby shower, or wedding.
When an invitation to an event seems just like another way to ask for a gift, it puts a damper on my enthusiasm to take part. We all like to feel special and included in a celebration because of who we are over just another way to “get” something in a reciprocal manner. But sometimes, we misread the context of an invitation and instead of being honored and excited to take part, we head in the other direction. This is much like Paul, whose mother planned a surprise birthday party for him without his knowledge.
Misreading the Invitation
Paul’s mother planned for weeks and worked hard at keeping his birthday party a surprise. On the day of the surprise party, which was also Paul’s birthday, he was rather glum because it seemed all his friends had something to do after school except him. So, he trudged home and went upstairs to his room. While Paul sat in his room feeling sorry for himself, all his friends were gathering secretly in the living room. It was finally time to bring Paul in on the surprise, so his mother called up to him to come downstairs, but Paul didn’t come. After several attempts, she finally went upstairs to see why he wasn’t responding when she called, but she found his room empty. Paul had climbed down a tree outside of his window and was hiding in the park nearby having a perfect pity party instead of a birthday party.
Paul’s mother didn’t know what to do but to continue on with the party. So, the invited children went on to enjoy a good time, but Paul never showed up. When it came time for supper, Paul arrived home. His mother asked where he had been as she informed him that he had missed a wonderful time that was planned especially for him. He broke down in tears as he confessed, he had heard her call, but hid until suppertime because he thought she had a chore for him to do! Paul misread the called invitation.
The All-inclusive Invitation
What a sad story for Paul and for us if we make the same mistake. There is a party being prepared with an all-inclusive guest list. This is the event of a lifetime. Our host is all-loving, gracious, and generous. The “save the date” invitation has arrived and there is nothing we can bring with us to repay our host. We are asked only to accept the invitation listening for His call and in the interim, we mustn’t misread the context of our inclusion.
Unfortunately, and too often, many people see this grand invitation from God with an obligatory or demanded reciprocal action. But God doesn’t ask us to suffer to gain this invitation. He doesn’t require us to give up something good unless He holds a plan to replace it with something even better. Instead what occurs when we accept this invitation is the desire to get to know our host better. When we accept an invitation to any event, we strive to be accepted with the others that are attending, being glad to be included and desire to honor our host with the same respect.
This is what occurs when we accept the invitation to the life-altering event to live with Christ forever. We strive to be accepted, honor our host with the same respect, and fit in the other invited guests. But accepting the invitation does not require or demand a reciprocal gift. However, as we learn more about our host, there is a change that comes about in us through our new knowledge in Him. It is in this that we come to not only respect Christ for who He is as the Son of God but gain the desire to honor and be more like Him because of our gratitude in receiving the invitation.
Acceptance and Expectations?
Accepting the invitation of Christ to join Him makes us want to be more like Him. He showed us that greatness comes from serving, giving of our self so we can be a light for God and help others see and understand the invitation too. Through service, we not only honor our host but become aware of each other’s needs. Jesus came as a servant and modeled the example we should follow. His methods, however, then and now, challenge the norms of society. It is important however to fully understand that Christ doesn’t ask us to do anything that He didn’t display through His own earthly life. He knew that self-righteousness leads to a pride that causes us to not only resent others, but it prevents us from learning anything from God. His life fully exampled humility and it is humility that we too, should strive for when dealing with the world.
Humility, however, is often misconstrued for it is not putting ourselves down but instead to take a realistic self-assessment. For truly humble people don’t compare themselves to others, but to Christ, where they realize their sinfulness and understand their limitations. This isn’t a requirement of accepting the invitation, but a natural response as we learn and strive to be more like Him.
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”Luke 14:11 (NLT)
The Relationship between the Invitation and Service
When we chose to accept the invitation granted to us by Christ, an inner desire to be like Him is the result. It is important that we recognize our gifts and strengths using them as Christ directs. This is a commitment to not only serve Him but to serve others. Author, Ralph Waldo Emerson noted that true “success” holds 3 qualities.
- The ability to discern and appreciate beauty.
- An ability to see the best in others.
- The ability to commit, leaving the world a better place.
These qualities are seemingly opposites of how society quantifies success with power, material gain, or relationships with influential people. Instead, Emerson contends that success comes from appreciating God’s world, developing loving relationships with God’s people, and working together to improve God’s world. Christ would most assuredly agree.
God’s invitation is the most important event we will ever be part of and so it is important to accept that invitation and share it with others that we come in contact with. When we fully accept His grand invitation, a desire wells up in us to prepare ourselves for the celebration by making sure our love is seen by others through our hospitality, empathy, fidelity, and contentment remembering that real love produces tangible actions.
Won’t you take the challenge to not only fully accept His invitation to join Him but the willingness to prepare yourself by striving to be like Him? Find your convictions rooted deeply and fully in His love. Be motivated in your desire to be like Him by serving others as He did. Surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that you have heard His call and now can share the call with others so that everyone may one day enjoy the celebration together.
Love in Christ,
Mother Teresa was once asked, “How do you measure the success of your work? She thought about the question and then responded with a puzzled look saying, “I don’t remember that the Lord ever spoke of success. He spoke only of faithfulness in love. This is the only success that really counts.”
What Are Your Thoughts?
Have you accepted the all-inclusive invitation? Do you recognize that serving others as Christ did is a product of the invitation? Share your thoughts on the desires that are created within you by accepting the invitation of Christ to join Him.