Invitations from God came in the mail yesterday. I’m excited to hear what Calhoun has to say on the topic of spiritual development and the invitations God extends.
As I opened the cover, I began thinking: I really like the word invitation. It captures so much about what God is up to and how our relationship with him really works at the core. The call to discipleship as, at its best, an invitation. It’s an invitation to live within the rhythms of grace, to live the Jesus Way.
An opposite is a raw obedience without the concept of invitation, an obedience to Jesus just because he is Lord (and perhaps not thinking so much on the savior part). Saying to one another: You must do this because Jesus is Lord diverges from the character of Jesus who did not force his Way on anyone; Jesus was simply the door to life.
While we do obey Jesus because he is Lord, it’s the character of Jesus we see in the Gospels that guides the way we obey and follow. We imitate, as we’re spiritually vivified, and the core and heart of our obedience, the why of our response, truly underscores the content, intent, or honest substance of our obedience. At the heart of it, true obedience is love, admiration, and time together on the journey – wherever that may lead. Obedience is a lens seeing life and opportunities to experience and express life. Obedience, as Henri Nouwen taught me in one of his books, is about really hearing and really coming to intimately know. “And this is eternal life, that you know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom [he has] sent” (John 17:3).
An invitation to freedom is what Jesus came to bring. He’s a new Moses calling out to a slave people in an enslaving empire, saying, “Cross this sea with me.” We’ve heard the declaration: You are free, your sins are forgiven. We also see that this Jesus-Way freedom actualizes through the journey and we’re freed through being propelled by the Spirit of God toward and into obedience.
Here’s what we hear: Whoever will lose their life will find it, whoever keeps their life shall lose it. Also: Come to me all who are weary and need rest. [And many, many others.] All the imperatives that surround these take us right back to invitation. The heart of it: Come and live. They also take us to absolute dependence. As sinners and people who are probably more confused than truly knowledgeable with God, we’re left to depend on God’s Spirit to bring us through the doors of invitation.
Back to the book.
I’m excited to be immersed in the word invitation and to read Scripture alongside the book. The word “Invitation” for me has opened a door of freedom and life, of permission and exploration. Perhaps we all need to hear more invitations and be reminded of the invitations God continually extends to us.