Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” Matthew 4:19
When Sara was two years old, she was fascinated with birds. She commented on their songs when she heard them in the morning and desperately wanted to interact with them when playing in the yard. We took her to the Winged Wonders show at the Little Rock Zoo, and that nearly held her attention for 45 minutes – some sort of record for a two-year-old, I’d say!
There was a time when we were in our backyard, and a robin fluttered down to the ground about twenty feet from where she was standing. The robin began hopping around, and Sara was enthralled. “Come here, wittle birdie!” she called. Somehow, Sara knew that running pell-mell toward the robin would not end with contact, so she stayed on the porch, calling for that “wittle birdie” to come to her. Needless to say, it did not, and soon flew into a tree, much to Sara’s disappointment.
I’m afraid that God is so often disappointed that we do not “Come, follow Him” when God calls to us. God is such an inviting God. Scripture reveals that every time God worked closely with people, it was due first to an invitation. God did not command Mary to give birth to Jesus; he invited her to. Jesus did not command the disciples to become his followers; he invited them to. Jesus didn’t even command Thomas to believe but invited Thomas to put his fingers into his wounds.
It is so easy for us to get caught up with the “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots” that we often miss the fact that what God wants most is a loving, trusting relationship with us…and that God knows that we must enter into that relationship willingly and without reservation. When we think about making disciples of Jesus Christ and bringing new people into our church, it is tempting to think that it must be done with clever marketing or worse, with shaming and guilt. But if we are careful to remember our own walk of faith, it almost certainly began with an invitation; an invitation from a parent or a friend, and an invitation from God. God calls, and God invites. It would seem that God’s favorite word is “Come.”
“Come, let us talk about these things. Though your sins may be as scarlet, they can be white as snow.”
“All you who are thirsty, come and drink.”
“Come to me all, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”
“Let the little children come to me, for to such belong the Kingdom of God.”
We need only listen for God’s voice in our life to discover what God invites us to do and to become. God rarely runs at us at full speed. God knows that most of the time we’d just fly away from God. Instead, God continually offers the invitation to Come and follow Jesus to a life where our hunger and thirst are filled, where our sins are forgiven, where God will replace the heavy burdens of this life with a mission and a calling, where we will discover the Kingdom of Heaven, and where we might issue the same invitation to another person who longs to be loved, to belong, to know peace, and to fill that yearning for the Holy Other.