Monday, December 19, 2011

The Invited

It's funny, how the King of Kings decided to show up, as a frail infant, in a feed bin, born of two young Jewish nobodies.

No one was there to watch.

And even more surprising are those with whom God decided to share the news. The first people who were told of the birth of the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD (besides the parties directly involved) were shepherds.

I have to ask WHY? I know it's not an accident. It's not that they happened to be closest. They were another handful of nobodies. They had zero influence, zero wealth, zero fame, and next to zero societal position. Why on earth would God choose them to be the first of all the world to know that the biggest moment in history just took place under their noses? Why wouldn't he choose a great public speaker, a charismatic leader, or at least a faithful servant in the church, I mean, someone who had really earned it?

I don't know. I don't even have a good guess. I could drum up a spiritual speculation. But what if it's just so simple; what if the reason He chose shepherds is because most other people felt they deserved to hear all the great things first. Maybe others believed they were more important than they actually were. Maybe the shepherds were the least deserving, in the eyes of the world, and knew it. And that made them the most deserving in God's.

So He invited them into the story. Forever. Do you see how BIG that is? The least deserving of all mankind. Humble. Lowly. Unassuming. And completely ecstatic to be chosen. I would have loved to see their faces at that moment, when face to face with an angel of the Lord, hearing the announcement of a lifetime. Of all our lifetimes! I bet they ran as much of the distance to the manger as they could.

Our church made some little cards listing the times of our Christmas Eve services so that we could hand them out. We are to invite our friends and family to church. And as I was spending the next few days casually weighing who I may invite, or not, walking through how the interactions might go, little did I know that my kids were passing out cards at school. They had each grabbed a stack. No weighing. No hesitation.

A couple days later, much to my surprise, my daughter says, "Mom, I invited my teacher to church with us and she said she'd love to come!" I was speechless, and then, I hate to admit, totally incredulous. I assumed her teacher was just being kind to respond positively, and followed up with a polite email letting her off the hook if, in fact, she was just being nice in showing enthusiasm for my daughter's brave invitation.

Guess what? The teacher wasn't just being nice. She is sincerely interested in joining us for church. And the truth is, I am a coward. I am a person to whom Jesus is saying, "Oh, you of little faith!" as I question who the "right" people are to invite to church. Because I would not have invited my daughter's teacher. I don't know her very well, and {now insert twenty other stupid excuses I could make}.

It took the simple faith of my child to remind me that God invited shepherds to Christmas. Shepherds were first on the list.

I'm challenged to ask who the unseen are. Who the nobodies are. Who the shepherds are in my life, those I take for granted, and don't really want to interact with on a personal, much less spiritual level.

Neighbors are the obvious ones. But what about coaches? Bosses. Siblings (ooh, it's getting more difficult!). Parents. The girl who works at Starbucks. The friend you think has it all together (but in fact doesn't!). The woman who scans your groceries. WHO? Who are they? Who are the last people you would think to invite?

Many years ago, in a workshop at church, we were told a statistic that shocked me: Surveys among non-church goers showed that if someone were to invite them to church, 75% would say "Yes." Doesn't that sorta startle you? Don't you have the same idea I do that if someone isn't already going to church, that means they don't want to? However, I swear the statistic had proven true in our lives. Nearly everyone we've invited to church over the past years has said "Yes."

And most of those have stayed, making church a regular part of their lives.

Maybe today you could make a list of at least three people. The last people you'd invite to church. The shepherds in your life.

Then invite them. It's Christmas, so even more reason why they might just say "Yes."

Because what if?

What if meeting Jesus is the one thing they've waited for their whole lives?

I just can't say no to the Lord asking me to reach out. Because one day, years ago, I was a shepherd. The least deserving. God knew I needed Jesus. And so He invited me into His story.

And I've never been the same.



  1. Okay, so you did it again! Thanks for the inspiration (challenge?) to reach out more. Who am I to determine the "deserving?" Who am I to fear man's opinion? We have the privilege to share the Good News of Great Joy! Thanks for putting this out there so eloquently and thoughtfully. I commit to invite more and do it more often! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. gosh, i would've totally emailed the teacher to "let her off the hook" too. mostly to save myself the awkwardness. thanks for being so transparent about it. i'm the exact same way. i don't know why it's hard for me to invite people to church? i guess i also assume that if they wanted to go, they'd already be going... it's amazing how i can compartmentalize my life sometimes, wanting to keep my church attending just about me and my family and our "comfort". i hope we get to hear all about what happens on christmas eve when her teacher joins you!

  3. Childlike faith. It is so beautiful and pure. I've actually been thinking about it a lot lately. Thinking of what I used to be and pinpointing the childlike faith I have lost here and there along the way. But I know our God can restore it... so I am asking Him to. I love the boldness of God asking the shepherds and your child asking the teacher. I want to be bold for Jesus. Bold in His love.

  4. Thanks for this!! We have a service tomorrow evening and I feel so challenged to invite people. One is a family who have shown interest in the past and then maybe a stranger....maybe someone around town?? Thanks for the encouragement!!! I'll let you know how it goes! HA!