Wielding Invitation: Do You Invite for the Enemy or Christ?
I woke up in the middle of the night wiping tears from my eyes. I sat up and realized they were actual tears. I had dreamed that, my husband, Ryan told me that we were going to Israel. I had wanted to visit Israel for many years, so this dream had great weight to me. I nestled back under the covers, stared into the darkness and prayed. I thanked God for even the hope.
A few days later, I was opening my birthday present at a little café near our house. It was a book with “Jerusalem” on the cover. I smirked at Ryan and asked, “Anything else?” He said, “Someone at the church made an anonymous donation, and we had been invited to join the trip to Israel, all expenses paid.” I put my hands over my face, cried familiar tears, and thanked God for such a humbling gift.
When God invites, whether in small ways or lavish ways, He encourages and strengthens His people. He is an Inviter. In Genesis, He said, “Let there be light, and there was light” (Gen 1:3). But when He progressed to make something extraordinarily special, He called out to His “Team Trinity” and said, “Let Us make man in our image according to Our likeness” (Gen 1:29, emphasis mine).
Not only is this the first evidence of the Trinity in Scriptures, it displays God’s corporate desire to create. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all pitched in when it came to making humanity in the likeness of God. We are not only a reflection of the imago Dei, individually. We are a reflection of the imago Dei, corporately.
We know the feeling of wanting to be invited. We know the feeling of wanting to invite, too. The second we hear that a good friend is pregnant, we start thinking about baby shower invites and … of course, hostesses! We want to bring people in when there is an extraordinary event!
Invitations can make or break our day. If you happen to get invited to a great party, you feel honored and look forward to it. But if you happen to not get invited to a known event, it could really bring you down, right?
Invitations influence. A hostess, for example, harbors the ability to encourage you or cut you out. A hostess harbors the authority to set the tone of the party, one of love and hospitality or perhaps one of intoxication and flowing margarita machines.
Good gifts come from God and pure invitations come from God. But some invitations derive from … the Evil One. Eve responded to an evil invitation from the Master Solicitor, Satan, in the Garden. He invited Eve to doubt God, and she replied “Yes,” to Satan’s Evite. When she ate that forbidden fruit, there went peace and in came sin, permeating not only into the human heart, but also God’s original good gift of invitation.
We see evidence of the Fall of invitation in the story of Potiphar’s wife as well. She was married to the captain of the guard in Egypt, but she had eyes for her attractive Hebrew housekeeper, Joseph. Rather than inviting her busy husband into a romantic evening, her heart pined for danger and she tapped into devious side of invitation. Her lustful heart rebelled toward her husband, and she wielded the mighty sword of proposition.
Potiphar’s wife called out to Joseph frequently, “Come to bed with me!” Now, Joseph was only about 17 or 18 years old, and Potiphar’s wife invitation sounded more like the command of a master to a dog, “Come!” And considering the fact that a great leader like Potiphar could have selected from most eligible women in Egypt, I’d venture to say, Potiphar’s wife was attractive and confident enough to command her invitation in a way that was difficult, very difficult, to withstand.
We don’t exactly hear Joseph saying, “Sorry, I’m just not that into you.” Rather he says, “How could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Gen 39: 9) I’d venture to say he gave her invitation serious consideration! But Joseph looked up to God, considered Him above himself, regarded Him above the moment and replied to her, in so many words, “Let’s not.”
In life, we have to learn when to say, “Yes, let’s…” and when to say, “Let’s not.” How we respond to the invitations in life are indicative of who our master is and who our master is not. God leads us to discern which invitations to accept and which invitations to decline.
For example, I have to ask myself almost every night. “Am I going to go to bed early and spend time with my husband, or am I going to respond to the incessant invite to flip on the remote control, log in to Facebook, or click to Hulu, again, tonight?”
We all have to learn when to say, “Yes, let’s go!” and “No, let’s not.”
[Joseph’s brother’s experienced this battle. Check out the story in Genesis 37. What did the brother’s say in Genesis 37:20? And what did Joseph’s brother Reuben say in Genesis 37:21?]
Until we are in heaven, we will need to wield, “Let’s not” … a lot.
Not too long ago, my close friend recently invited a girlfriend to church. During the service, my friend began to feel uncomfortable as her guest continually surveyed the sanctuary, obviously looking for somebody. When my friend asked who she was looking for, the woman replied that she had once met the mission’s pastor. He was kind with beautiful blue eyes, and she was hoping to see him again.
My friend happened to know the mission’s pastor with blue eyes. It was my husband. My friend said, “Do you know he is married?” She said, “I hadn’t noticed, but tell me if you see him.” My friend said, “Let’s not look for him, because he is married, and we cannot even think about that, okay?”
I was beyond thankful for my friend’s interception, needless to say, and for her opportune wisdom to say, “Let’s not” that day.
I had to do this before, too. I remember my college pastor preaching one Sunday morning, and the girl sitting next to me leaned over and said, “I betcha I could get him.” My heart sank, sensing her underlying meaning. My eyes bugged out, and I went silent. I remember praying, “Lord, help her to “Go and sin no more.”
Sometimes we are called to invite others to “Come and follow me as I follow Christ,” but sometimes Jesus actually said, “Go” (2 Thess 3:9; Jn 8:11).
Our hearts are equally as bi-polar. We can be faithful and steady believers, mothers, wives in one season and then our husband gets busy, add a fight in there, add some financial issues, stress from work or kids, and the switch flips and we run off of sin. We become confused, and we forget that we still need Jesus to save us from a heart of lust and unfaithfulness.
Thankfully, one of Jesus’ names is The LORD our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). He was and is our salvation from the penalty of sin and is continuing perversion. He is still our righteousness for a heart that is vulnerable to openings of lust from the media and the world.
Paul’s question to the Galatians serves to remind us still, “Who had bewitched or hypnotized you… Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?… Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith” (Gal 3:2, 11).
Jesus cleans us from the penalty and the power of sin by faith. If we will believe the LORD Jesus is our righteousness, then our hearts will daily turn from dark to light, and our invitations will turn from perverted propositions to pure invitations.
Jesus promised that the “pure of heart will see God” (Mat 5:8). So, if we are going to invite for Him, then we desperately need to be pure of heart. We need to keep our eyes on Him.
We were created to say with the nations, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob” (Micah 4:2). We are inviters for God, and we need to see Him and hear from Him so we know who to ask, “Hey, would you like to come to church with me on Sunday?” We need to hear from Him to know when to say to the wayward wife, “Hey, would you wanna go to coffee and talk?”
We were created to say with the “Spirit and the [rest of the] Bride, ‘Come’ to whoever is thirsty” (Rev 21:17). We are God’s voice to children, too. They don’t want to just watch a movie; they want us to say, “Come on, let’s watch a movie together,” or “Hey, let’s have a tea party or kick the soccer ball.”
There are those struggling with alcohol or adultery, and they need us to pray and fight for them. We can cry out to God while they are weak and wield our authority in Christ for them. We could pray and command any evil over them by simply saying like Jesus, “ “Come out” to the evil one (Lk 4:35). We can take back our friends, children, marriages by wielding an invitation!
Whether you feel led to pray for the hurting, reach out and adopt someone into your home, or simply invite a friend to lunch, God’s invitation is always clean and encouraging. If you sense that you might be inviting others toward sin, take time now to ask God to wash you, forgive you, and keep you from responding to Satan’s Evites in your life.
Ask Him to purify your heart and help you play for Team Trinity, and go invite for Him in life. I bet you there is someone who would be so encouraged to hear you say these simple words, “Come with me…” Take time now to ask God if there is someone He wants to invite toward Christ through you.