Jesus invites you to follow Him. The invitation comes when you read the Bible, hear it preached or taught, or encounter one of His children who tell you of or show you His truth and love. And as with any invitation you might receive, there is a choice before you to receive it and act on it, or to not do so and, consequently, miss out on the opportunity to which you’ve been invited.
The trick is recognizing that you and I cannot follow Him and still live life according to our own agenda, plans, desires, and wisdom. That is the same thing as receiving a party invitation and saying you’ll come and yet refusing to leave the party you’re in.
“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him (Jesus), ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ To another He said, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow You, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62 ESV).
Before we receive His invitation to follow Him, you and I are already attending a party. The party we attend before we heed the call of Jesus is the party that the world is throwing. It promises us entertainments, pleasures, and delicacies if only we’ll pursue those things on the terms of the world around us. We learn the “house rules” of the party we’ve been invited to and live accordingly. We cheat, lie, and steal. We neglect people and mock the truth. We puff ourselves up and strive to be in the spotlight of attention and approval of everyone else.
But the “party” that Jesus invites us to causes us to leave the world’s party behind and as we forsake it, we are freed to enter into the celebration of fellowship with God that only Jesus can provide us. And, of course, the party here has entirely different rules. We come through the doorway of faith in Jesus Christ, and in humbleness learn that the music playing in this party is the love song of God for His children and the praise we give Him from our own lips. The dance we dance is the humble devotion of a life lived surrendered to God and the acts of loving service we render one another as we become God’s extension of Himself to those around us.
This party God throws is catered with the sweet and savory truths of His Word and the refreshing drink we are given is the sweet fellowship He gives us as we learn the reality of His ongoing presence in our lives. I suppose, if we continue to think about it, we might consider that the “door prizes” that each of us are granted are not the cheap, breakable things that perish with this world, but are opportunities to see God work in and through our lives knowing that what He is up to goes with us into forever.
The invitation Jesus sends you is an earnest one. He sincerely desires you to join Him. The invitation is an urgent one. Spiritually speaking, life and death are on the line for you and me. And He cares enough to intervene in your life to choose you right now to hear Him and receive that invitation. The invitation He gives you is accessible only through Himself. You and I cannot come to Him on our own terms. To try to do so only ends in tragic failure. We must come to Him through faith. The kind of faith that repents of sin (our rebellion against God and refusal to listen and obey Him). The kind of faith that decides to trust Jesus over every other path. The kind of faith that leads to living life God’s way. Will you accept that invitation? Will you follow Him?
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 25 years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed are the work of the author.