He kept inviting me to church and it got annoying. Yes, I was curious, always trying to better myself, but church was for rule-followers and old people. Right? I never did attend his church, perhaps out of fear. But as I watched the way he lived, the way he loved harder, gave more freely, forgave richly, and genuinely cared for people, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about this way of life that seemed to flow so naturally from my friend. So I church shopped.
Some were full of old people and I didn’t feel I belonged. Others were too big, some too small. I felt like Goldilocks until I found one that preached the gospel of Jesus boldly. The message was simple and loving, yet convicting. The people were kind. It was a soft landing, a home, a family, I never knew I needed.
Then I understood. Turns out church wasn’t about church. It was about meeting with Jesus!
I realized my friend invited me multiple times in the past, not to get me in a pew, but because he wanted to share the treasure he’d found in God with me.
He had seen first hand the forgiveness, love, grace, acceptance, healing, restoration that comes with relationship with Jesus. He sweetly thought I was important enough to share that goldmine. Now? I’m so thankful for his quiet, patient invitations that led me to seek God for myself.
We read the intensity of Jesus’s disciples, their hunger to share the good news of Salvation with all people, their willingness to be persecuted to give away the best gift they could share. Why? It brought the joy to bring others into God’s family.
“… that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.” 1 John 1:3-4ESV
Do you hear that? They have a coveted fellowship, an intimate community, with the Heavenly Father because of Jesus. Jesus gave His Father’s love to this ragtag community, and as they experience just how good their spirits feel wrapped up in His love, they can’t hold it in. Their joy is complete only as they give that same love away, inviting others into God’s family.
Maybe your church-loving friend is annoying. OR it’s very possible that they keep asking you to church because they too are welled up with the Father’s love. They can’t help but invite you into the family that has changed their life. You are important to them and they want you to experience a love that surpasses anything in this world. They want to see you walking in freedom that you’ve never imagined.
Or if you’ve never been invited, consider this your invitation. Come and see for yourself that Jesus is good. I’m telling you are welcome in God’s family no matter what. God is good and He meets each of us where we are and loves us forward.
And if you are that annoying friend. Keep loving. Keep inviting. Keep serving even when you don’t see traction. God is working invisibly in people’s hearts because of your humble kindness. Love God, love others, leave the rest to Him.
Q:What keeps you from going to church? Or what do you love about your church? How can we be a people that radically open our arms to those who feel excluded like the disciples did for the gentiles? Comment below, on Facebook, or Instagram.
Featured Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.