October 23, 2017

Sundays with Michael Spencer: June 14, 2015

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Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

John 7:37: On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Hebrews 7:25: Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

* * *

Certainly, one of the most compelling aspects of the Bible is the personal invitation to come to God through his son, Jesus Christ. The invitation from Jesus himself to every person is one of the Bible’s most powerfully comforting messages.

The imagery connected with these invitations are deeply significant in and of themselves. The hungry and thirsty are invited to come and be satisfied. The guilty are invited to come and be forgiven. The broken and weary are invited to come, be lifted up and made whole. The sinner is invited to come to Jesus and be saved.

Christianity is not first a philosophy or a comprehensive worldview. It is an invitation from God to individuals. “If anyone…” Jesus said. Anyone is invited. All are invited. All are addressed in “Come to me…”

Behind this is the gracious love of God for those who feel unloved and deserve justice, not forgiveness. The invitation is not to a way of life or a system of theology. The invitation is “Come to me.” Directly into the heart of the Father himself.

This is a missional God’s word at the end of everything that we call Gospel: Come to God through his son, Jesus Christ. He invites you. He has made the way.

In this invitation is the guarantee of God. Come, and “I will…” Come and drink. Come and be saved to the uttermost.

The prodigal was poised to conduct a transaction with his Father there on the road home. He would apologize and perform as a servant. The Father has no interest in a system of servant sons. He is interested in magnifying his own joy in forgiveness and restoration.

Our persistent and consistent interest in what must be believed frequently obscures that we are not invited into a business and handed the employee manual. We are not given a problem to solve or a task to perform.

We are invited by God himself, to God himself to receive from God himself a salvation that is God himself. All that is asked of us is to come.

If we do not come, if we insist on conditions of our own, if we come to someone else, if we call “coming to God” a system to bring God to us on our own terms, we are not answering this invitation.

This is not the public invitation of the revivalist, but we who are his ambassadors may invite anyone to come to God through Jesus Christ. Paul said…

2 Corinthians 5:18: All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We cannot add anything to the simplicity of this invitation. The fact that we, as his representatives, are the communicators of the invitation does not give us permission to make the church into a system of additional requirements or redefined meanings.

To come to Jesus is to hear the Gospel and believe it. Fair warning to those who take what flows from this relationship or follows this invitation and makes it somehow into the the invitation itself.

Blessings to the one who takes all that the Gospel demands and means and refuses to hear it apart from clearly saying, “First, we must come to God, by faith, through Jesus.”

There is no invitation to salvation except the invitation from Jesus, to come to Jesus.

This is the Christian’s great Word of peace with God. The Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate God, the one mediator who is our salvation says “Come to me.”

To those of us who believe that in Jesus crucified, risen and exalted, God embraces us without reservation, this invitation is the heart of the Good news.

Comments

  1. I am one of the uttermost. One who has done what society has deemed wrong. I used drugs, alcohol and sex. I tried to kill the pain inside me from what I can remember at first. My first recollection of the pain in this world has been with me throughout my life. I thought the list of rules were there to make me not have fun. I almost died more times than fingers and toes. The chances I took and sometimes on purpose. I wish I could show what it is I see the best thing to have happened to me

    He said, He promised and He has kept it in my life. My life has never been easy and the pain is a constant reminder of it. Physical and what I experience every time I go by a dead animal or just listen to the news. I had to quit the news a long time ago because it would break my heart so I would sob every morning.

    He whispered in my ear I am not the one who has done this to you and I love you at 15 after I almost died in a car crash and all alone and no special prayer.. I cried and wept uncontrollably as waves of love overwhelmed every part of me. You see He said and in it He promised a love that would never quit and He has kept it for me.

    Now this Sermon on the mount takes on new meaning. Blessed are the for they shall receive me and this is who I am. My joy. my love, my everything. So for me as he teaches it becomes joy to bow before someone and forgive them of anything because I never have to do it alone anymore. Commands are joys, obedience or being in is a joy, prayer is a joy, fasting is a joy and drawing close to the one who never stops loving is ecstasy.

    My testimony on my birthday into this place. He meant everything He said with no wasted breath and has kept me so I could know this much today and holds a promise that will be with me forever. I don’t have to hold Him to it He holds it for me and this is the faith He has taught me through it all. With all the humbleness I can muster on this day…Thank you and I love you. The only thing to add is I look forward to doing love better and I need Your help.

    Oh by the way I need your help and that is not easy for me for I prefer being alone and keeping my distance for I have found people are the ones who hurt me the most. I have need to overcome this. I am sure it will be of testing for me. I wish to see the reflections of a love that never quits.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Blessings and peace to you today, w.

    • Robert F says:

      It’s said that love is stronger than death; it must also, then, be stronger than loneliness.

      God bless you, w. Happy Birthday.

    • Phil Dickens says:

      Happy Birthday to you w. God’s blessings to you and to all of us who struggle with loneliness.

  2. Christiane says:

    I was thinking about W’s phrase ‘a love that never quits’ and I recall the self-giving love of a father for his child, and how it was lived out:

    I remembered the news story of a father and a son and how it was with them that one loved the other more than he loved his own life:
    “Thomas S. Vander Woude, 66, died last week while helping his son Joseph, who has Down syndrome, after he fell into a septic tank while working in the yard, police said.
    The tank was eight to 10 feet deep, Steve Vander Woude said.
    His father climbed into the 2-by-2-foot opening, managed to get under Joseph and was pushing him upward to keep his head above the sewage. Initially, Vander Woude was able to keep his own head above the muck, telling a workman who was helping from above, “You pull, I’ll push,” Steve Vander Woude said. But he eventually sank and was later pulled out by rescue workers, who were unable to revive him, Prince William County police said.

    Joseph, 20, was hospitalized last week with pneumonia but was released Saturday and attended the funeral Mass for his father in a wheelchair, connected to an oxygen tank. His family said doctors expect a full recovery.
    A few days after his father’s death, Joseph’s family sat with him in the hospital and explained to him that his father had died. Upon hearing the news, Joseph “sat back . . . he closed his eyes, his chin quivered, and he started crying,” Steve Vander Woude said.
    “I think he understands as much as he can right now.”

    I suppose we are a lot like the boy Joseph . . . Our Lord died so that we could live . . . and we only understand as much as we can right now about this great gift of selfless love . . . but we know this much: to go with trust towards the One Who says ‘Come to Me’ . . . this we can do now, because He has raised us above the muck of our own sins and given us a gift of the breath of life . . . if we cannot trust Him, to whom then shall we go ?