July 2015 – Invitation to Jesus and the kingdom

In last month’s newsletter, I wrote about invitations I’ve accepted that have changed my life for the better. I shared my hope that we’ll all be in prayer and conversation with each other about how we can best be inviting others to know Jesus better. I shared also the hope that our inviting will result in more people joining us in our churches – noting that we should focus first, last, and most of all not on what we want, but on what Jesus does and says to do. “What would Jesus do?” – is an excellent question that can help us focus – provided we keep in mind what Jesus has done and taught us to do.

Jesus changes everything in heaven and earth, and Jesus invites us into change. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are all arranged around the theme of Jesus inviting us to “repent and believe the good news.” Repent means “turn.” Repent means “have a change of heart.” Gospel means “good news” – something everyone theoretically should always be glad to hear. But it’s probably pretty safe to say – repentance is not always a popular word – even tied together with good news. It’s probably also safe to say most of us are not always eager for change. Change doesn’t always sound like good news.

But change of heart is the first movement in the gospel symphony. And perhaps we need to practice making analogies that make clear – the changes Jesus brings are like Spring following our last long cold Winter – like beauty and joy after sad seasons of fear and dismay – like peace flowing like a river and love bringing new life…

The changes Jesus brings are all for our good. Yet Jesus is challenging. And it takes time and yes, some struggle, to get to know Jesus well… Jesus is not someone we can explain adequately in five minutes. And… We don’t all get to know Jesus the same way, in the same sequence, or at the same pace…. We all have different ways of learning and knowing… And Jesus knows this… better than anyone…

Which is probably why Jesus teaches by word and example in so many ways – sometimes calling people to himself by name – other times calling to his kingdom – always proclaiming the presence of the kingdom of God with deeds of healing and redemption – often teaching through parables designed to provoke more than explain. Teaching and proclaiming and inviting through stories and parables and deeds designed to get us participating in God’s kingdom, more than to understand exactly what Jesus means in a hurry… (Sometime I think I hear Jesus saying “If I explained it all for you quickly, I’d ruin it for you…”)

So – let’s keep praying and studying God’s word and worshiping and having fellowship in Christ’s company as we learn together… And please join with me in prayer:

Dear God, help me invite someone to know you better, today, if possible – whenever, however I can, best I can. Help us, your people, your church in this place, to keep inviting others to you and your kingdom. Help us, by your Word and Spirit to keep improving in our inviting. For we pray with our Teacher and Friend, as he has taught us – we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Grace and peace be with you,

Pastor Tim