This week, the church that I have the honor of pastoring, COTES, will collectively invite thousands of people to come and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with us. I, along with our staff, have been urging our people to invite their coworkers, family, and friends to one of our many weekend services. It has been one of the main points of focus for our church over the past month. One may wonder why this is so important? Shouldn’t we just clean the buildings, prepare the service, open the Bible and preach to whoever decides to come on their own? Should we be making all this effort to get people to the church this weekend, or any weekend for that matter? I believe the Bible gives us a strong foundation for inviting everyone we can to our churches, especially on Easter.
In Luke chapter 14, Jesus tells us the parable of the great banquet. In this brilliantly vivid story, told in a way only Jesus could tell it, a master prepares an amazing and large banquet and feast. He instructs his servant to go and invite people to it, but everyone he invites turns him down with weak excuses. He then angrily instructs the servant to go everywhere possible and invite everyone he can find to the banquet. The language is strong, as the servant is told in Luke 14:23 to “urge” people to come. Why does the master say to so passionately make this invite? In the same verse he says to invite “so that my house will be full.” God wants His house to be FULL!!!
If you attend my church or another, either way you should be passionately and actively inviting everyone you can in any way you can to come to the house of God with you this weekend. We know that people are more willing to attend a church during Easter than any other time of the year. Why would we not invite? Why would we be so lazy to simply hope people will show up to our churches without actually doing the work of inviting? The “build it and they’ll come” mentality has taken the modern church down a road of decline and stagnation. Our buildings become nothing but museums and monuments if the Gospel isn’t being proclaimed to both saved and unsaved people within their walls. I hope COTES is jam packed this weekend with people. Hurting people, saved people, lost people, rich people, poor people, sick people….lot’s of people!!! Why? Because God wants His house full, and so should we.
So, in closing, I challenge you to spend the next few days making invites. Use your cell phone, your computer, and most of all you influence to make the “ask.” Will it be hard? Yes! Will it be uncomforable? You better believe it! Will you regret it? Never. So, invite my friends. There’s no feast like the one Jesus serves. There’s no banquet that comes close to the one that has the Gospel as the centerpiece. May our tables be set and His houses be full!!
It’s all about Jesus. This is a very powerful statement that can usually be heard in pulpits and worship gatherings all over the world. I wonder, however, if we truly understand the depth and implications of this very true statement. I believe if we can wrap our minds more fully around this truth, it will be very helpful to every area of our spiritual lives.
First, the Bible and the Gospel are completely wrapped around the person of Jesus. Genesis to Revelation points to the Son of God. The Old Testament points forward to Him. The Gospels tell the accounts of His time on Earth. The rest of the New Testament points back at Him, while Revelation unveils a glorious future with Him. So, the Bible is all about Jesus.
The Gospel is the message of Jesus which is good news. The Bible describes this mighty Gospel in many ways, but I love how 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 sums it up as the “message of reconciliation.” In Jesus, God reconciled us to Himself. Jesus made things right. He evened the scales. The truth and reality of this message means that through faith in Jesus, we are made right with God. So, the Gospel is all about Jesus.
All of creation…..the Earth and the universe….it’s all about Jesus.
The Bible tells us that all things were created by Him and for Him, and that He holds all things together! During His earthly ministry Jesus said that if people didn’t worship Him the rocks would cry out their praises!! So, all of creation is about Jesus.
I could go on and on, but I want to make clear that even our mission is all about Jesus. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave his followers a massive mission. They would take His Gospel all over the globe beginning in their local area, but expanding to the region and ultimately the world. This mission was overwhelming to say the least. That’s why Jesus didn’t tell them to go on the mission first. He actually began by reminding them of WHO He was. “All authority” had been given to Him.
Jesus made it clear that even our mission is completely wrapped around Him. We can do what He has called us to do because He is who He says He is!! So, take heart today my friends. If you feel inadequate or unworthy and you don’t think you measure up, don’t worry. It was never about you anyway. It’s all about Jesus.
I’ve always been a fan of intelligent, quick, and tasteful humor. I grew up watching Saturday Night Live when guys like Adam Sandler and Chris Farley roamed its famed stage. While shows like this can be very funny and often offer unique perspectives on current events, the results can be dangerous. I really believe our culture has created several generations of people who find it hard to take anything seriously. We have increasingly become a culture of cynics.
The problem with unhealthy cynicism is that it can lead to an empty life. Cynicism can make you criticize everything and embrace nothing. Unfortunately this has quickly become the state of my generation and those behind me. Sincerity is an assumed mirage in the desert of our fake and artificial culture. Leaders of all stripes are automatically distrusted and considered dishonest and shallow. When something looks great there must be something wrong behind the curtain. This has developed an atmosphere of general dissatisfaction in many of our lives. If we don’t embrace anything, then we’re not fully committed to anything, which leads to life far below the standard I believe we were created to experience.
Cynicism and criticism often are two unruly brothers that like to run together. The cynic will most often voice his issues in biting criticism. Now, let me be clear: cynicism and criticism are not always bad. We should not be naïve or careless. The important question to ask is whether you are someone who offers healthy and constructive criticism or have you become a critic.
Do you find something wrong with everything? Do you always look for the negative instead of the positive? Do you offer as much praise and affirmation as you do criticism? These are important things that could help you decide if you’ve crossed that line. Cynicism can be dangerous, and we really need to guard against allowing it to become what we are all about. If you find something wrong with everything, the problem might be looking back at you in the mirror.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus gave the church and all believers a mission. Jesus drew 3 circles for our mission, each one larger than the last. As He told that first group to go into Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and all the world it became clear that He was giving us an order and a plan. The way I see it, Jesus was calling us to be local, regional, and global in our mission. As churches and people of faith we will find unique ways and methods to accomplish this, but the overall mission and plan was given to us by Jesus Himself.
I think the mission that Christ has given us is not only a command, but a gift. Whether we realize it or not, we all deeply long for purpose in our lives. We all can remember that pivotal moment when we began to ask the deep life questions of why we’re here and what life is all about. It is in those moment that Jesus words to us become so full of life and hope. We have a purpose and a mission! We have a reason for still existing on this big spinning ball called Earth.
There’s few feelings more dark and hopeless than that of a total lack of purpose. It is into this black hole of darkness and hopelessness that Jesus shines the light of life purpose. To think that the God of Heaven would invite us to partner with Him to accomplish His work in the Earth is unfathomable, yet true. In all of our weaknesses and unworthiness we are reminded by Christ that He made us worthy of the mission by taking our place and making us right before God. It is Jesus who gave us the mission, empowers us to do the mission, and makes us worthy for the mission.
I find it interesting that Jesus gave the disciples and the early church their mission just before He went to Heaven. Surely they would be in deep grief and possibly some confusion when He left. There were going to be some really hard days ahead for this group. Persecution, torture, and terror were right around the corner. Many of them would soon die horrifically for their faith in Christ. Knowing all of this, Jesus gave them a mission and purpose that would give them assurance and encouragement in their darkest moments. He would give them power to partner with Him to reach the world. Locally, regionally, and globally the Gospel message began to explode and spread. This world has never been the same.
Much has changed in 2000 years, but the mission has not. You and I are called to join our God in this quest to spread the Gospel and make disciples in our communities, regions, and across the globe.
I’d like to share this great poem by Nadine Stair, who at 85 years old, looked back on her life and wrote these words. Hope you enjoy and are inspired!!
If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.5
By Nadine Stair