The Unwanted Irresistible Invitation

The Unwanted Irresistible Invitation

It was an invitation not many would respond to with enthusiasm.  And I can’t say that I blame them.

When we receive an invitation, we typically expect it to correspond with some sort of enjoyable event, with the occasional exception of three-hour obligatory graduation ceremonies and the like.

Invitations attract us with promises of birthday cake and ice cream, or backyard cookouts, or memorable dinners with wonderful friends.

They promise to entertain us or fill us or at the very least to bore us comfortably in a climate-controlled environment.

Apparently, the Apostle Paul never took the Creating Invitations People Want course.

His haunting summons was written from within the confines of a dank prison cell by the wavering light of a single candle. Hands roughened by honest work and hardship and stiffened by cold gripped the stylus as it scratched across his precious piece of parchment.

No gilded invitation on expensive stationery.  No return envelope with postage conveniently affixed and an elegant card with a box to indicate how many will attend.

The Unwanted, Irresistible Invitation

Paul’s invitation was fueled not by festivity but by the fire of a spirit ignited by the Holy Spirit and the passion of his calling.

It certainly offered no enticement, no promise of enjoyment or entertainment or great BBQ.

Yet his words echo through the centuries, calling not just Timothy, to whom he was writing, but also all of us, up higher.

 

He whispers fervently, chains momentarily forgotten in his zeal.

“…join with me in suffering for the Gospel by the power of God…” (2 Timothy 1:8b).

Excuse me, Paul, but what did you say?

Join you in SUFFERING?

What kind of invitation is THAT?

An unwanted one, perhaps.

Perhaps Timothy would rather have been invited to be an honored guest speaker at the Key Players in the Early Church Conference.

Notice also that Paul did not ask Timothy to post bail for him (although I’m pretty sure that wasn’t an option), to arrange all-night prayer vigils to storm the gates of Heaven for his release, or to cajole people to sign up and bring him hot meals in his captivity.

Paul was still very much on mission, even while in chains. He was seeking the kingdom first and continuing with the work God entrusted to him, although his own needs were dire and pressing.

He knew that his temporary circumstances – including location – were all part of the plan.

Instead of begging for release, he worked fervently where he was. Writing to the churches, mentoring Timothy, praying, praying, praying.

Calling Timothy up higher. Telling him to fan into flame the gift of God within him. Inviting him to come suffer alongside his mentor and spiritual father.

What kind of invitation is that??

An irresistible one, perhaps.

Deep inside each of us resides a longing to be significant. To do something that has great worth and value, and to somehow enlarge the scope of our little lives.  We yearn to participate in something grand and sweeping that is larger than ourselves.

To be caught up in a story of greatness and heroism, and discover that we, too, are heroic and can make worthy sacrifices for the good of others.

The Unwanted, Irresistible Invitation

There’s just one problem with all of that.

It comes with a price tag.

It involves loving and serving and those typically involve things like inconvenience and hassle and pain.

It means dying to our own agenda, and coming up higher.  Living God’s agenda – to seek and save the lost, and to minister to the hurting and helpless.

It means suffering.  Just ask Jesus.

Irresistible?  Absolutely.  Because significance is worth far more than comfort.

 

We cannot simultaneously seek first our own comfort and God’s Kingdom. Click To Tweet

 

 

When we grab hold of that truth, we begin to realize that comfort is actually the more costly item.  It can cost us the very existence we were made for and silently crave.

Is God calling you to a higher standard of kingdom living today? Is He asking you to lay something down so that you can take up your cross and follow Him?

Me, too.  I want to live a no-regrets life, fully and joyfully, and accept the unwanted, irresistible invitation.

Will you join me?

“Dear Jesus, I’m so thankful that You didn’t seek to live a comfortable existence here on earth.  Thank You for being willing to take up Your Cross and die in my place.  I long to follow You and live a life rich with significance.  Help me to see others through Your eyes and to courageously accept the invitation to take up my cross and follow You by loving and serving those You bring across my path. I commit today to seek Your kingdom above my comfort.  I accept Your invitation.  Please use my life for Your glory. Amen.”

With faith, hope, and love

Published byChristine

Christine is so glad you have joined her on The Beautiful Journey! She is a Bible study writer and teacher living in Texas with her husband, 2 children, and all their pets. Christine believes with all her heart that you can live the full, high-impact, joyful life God designed for you, right now. That beautiful journey begins inside you and doesn't depend on your circumstances. She would love to have you join her on the journey!

3 Comments

  • Timothy Maschler

    May 26, 2017 at 10:43 am Reply

    Hello Christine,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments in “Will Faith Survive if the Lights Go Out in America.” It is a provocative question, and every man and woman of faith everywhere should consider it with fear and trembling.

    There are so many passages in the Bible, especially among the Old Testament prophets, warning us all about the reality of judgment, and the consequences when a nation or a people abandon faith. Jeremiah in particular comes to mind, as he warned Jerusalem for over thirty years about the certainty of the Lord’s judgment being wrought on the nation of Israel because His people were continually turning away from Him.

    Anyone who truly believes the Word of God, whether in the US or elsewhere, knows judgment must be right around the corner. Abortion, evolution, sexual immorality, every form imaginable of idolatry… the list goes on and on, increasing in size and depth every day, week, month and year.

    It is only God’s mercy that holds judgment back, although we see it already marching forth in families splitting apart, the beautiful land He gave us ravaged by careless disregard of his first command in Genesis 1: “Fill the earth and subdue it,” churches valuing entertainment over Truth. But we don’t see it, instead filling our hearts, minds and souls with the latest drivel abounding on the Internet.

    Some of us wonder what form judgment on the US will take. An EMP in our time? Very possible. In Jeremiah’s time, Jeremiah informed Israel Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon would be His instrument, naming him “the servant of the Lord Almighty.” Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered, destroying Jerusalem and the Temple, even though his real interest at the time was in vanquishing Egypt. But being God’s chosen instrument (even though he rejected God’s sovereignty), he carried out Jeremiah’s inevitable prophecies.

    And because Jeremiah had the Spirit of Christ within him, he wept.

    Today, we look toward North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, the mullahs of Iran, and ISIS as likely candidates. And any one of them, armed with the capacity to fire off a nuclear missile into the stratosphere over the US, could on a single day cause the EMP your family is writing about. (BTW, you are no doubt aware of William Forstchen’s novel One Second After, which gives a telling, blow-by-blow account of what could happen.) And, unlike Nebuchadnezzar, who in many ways showed mercy to those he made captive, these groups and their leaders only act according to their narrow, destructive agendas. Setting off an EMP, which would end the lives of millions, is right up their street.

    But somehow the possibility of that occurring seems remote, as our itching ears demand we turn the channel.

    Although I am not familiar with William Wurmbrand or Voice of the Martyrs, I so appreciate his comment you quoted in your post: “I have found truly jubilant Christians only in the Bible, in the underground church and in prison.” I think of Paul in Philippians, written from prison while in chains, saying over and over “I rejoice.” Mr. Wurmbrand’s faith, despite unspeakable torture under his Communist jailers, along with Corrie Ten Boom’s sister Betsie giving thanks to God even for the fleas infesting their concentration camp barracks, remind us of the only true answer in the face of suffering: faith in the One He has sent.

    So anticipating the judgment to come from whatever quarter, we rejoice while, like the ten virgins in Matthew 25 who stored up their oil, we lay in food, grow a garden, raise chickens and pray.

    To the Lord be the Glory!

    All the best,

    Timothy Maschler
    Maschler Publishing
    Cornaveigh, Lough Eske
    Co. Donegal
    Ireland

    • Christine

      May 26, 2017 at 11:33 am Reply

      Timothy, thank you for taking the time to write – I appreciate your thoughtful comments! My family truly has a soft spot in our hearts for Ireland – we have some dear friends who are missionaries there. It’s great to meet a brother “across the pond” via the internet! Keep writing, praying, and using your voice to call the worldwide Bride of Christ to wake up and prepare for His return (and whatever may preceed it). To God be the glory – Christine

    • Christine

      May 28, 2017 at 5:57 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, Timothy! I appreciate your thoughtful and biblical response. Let us be found ready on that day! Blessings to you and yours in Ireland – Christine

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