(The above photo is one of Sarah from five years ago. The sidewalks form a cross and she’s walking towards it…Perfect, right?)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Jesus consistently tells us to “come” to Him over and over again in the Bible.
He doesn’t say, “Hang back for a bit and I’ll find YOU.” Sure, I’ve read stories about non-believing people in rock bottom places who suddenly are met by Jesus seemingly out-of-the-blue.
But for most of us, He issues an invitation: turn to Him, accept His invitation. Go. He is the bridegroom, the church is his bride.
We have to take the initiative to follow Him. Like so many other life situations, we get what we put in. Following Jesus isn’t as simple as saying “yes” and checking the “Christian” box.
I had a conversation a few years ago with a woman who expressed discontent with Jesus. She didn’t quite understand that her discontent was actually with the church, not Jesus. Big difference. Anyway, her family had attended three different churches in four years because they had trouble “plugging in” and finding a community where they could authentically live-out their faith.
Admittedly, this can be a challenge. So I asked her a few questions . . .
“Do you attend the women’s Bible study?” I wondered.
“No, I just can’t seem to make the time for it,” she answered.
“How about going to the spring luncheon?” I asked.
“No, we had soccer that morning and I was just too tired to go,” she said.
“Are you going to the Community Barbecue your church is having?” I prodded.
“No, my husband doesn’t want to go,” she answered.
And hear me on this: I am not judging or condemning. I have been this woman.
The thing is . . . the reason why she doesn’t feel connected anywhere is because she doesn’t put any effort in TO connecting. Like me, she expected it to just happen organically – and this can happen, but it’s rare.
Jesus wants his church to live in community. So when we go to Him, He also wants us to be a part of the church, too.
Let’s take a look at some scriptures where Jesus tells us to go to Him:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” – John 7:37
“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” – Mark 10:21
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” – Mark 6:30-31
And there are more. These are just a few.
I know it can be scary to put yourself out there. I get this. But you know what?
Satan uses fear to paralyze us into inaction – the very inaction that keeps us from fully experiencing the church. He uses our fear of rejection to make us say things like “I don’t want to go anyway.” He uses our fear of being exposed to make us believe if someone saw beyond our front-porch, they wouldn’t like us. And he uses our fear of betrayal to keep those we are in relationship with at a very far arm’s length.
In other words, he feeds us lies that ride on just enough truth to seem legit. It’s how he rolls.
But the truth is this: you aren’t the only one with a pretty front-porch and a dirty living room. You aren’t the only one who’s been betrayed by someone else. And you aren’t the only one who worries that she won’t be found cool enough or pretty enough or anything enough.
You know what it takes to accept Jesus’ invitation to follow Him and plug-in to a church?
Courage to try again despite having been hurt by the church in the past. Courage to accept that you are who you, imperfections and all. And courage to know that everyone has dirty living rooms. Everyone.
So if we accept Jesus’ invitation, we have to take the initiative to GO. We have to be the ones to spring into action. We have to be the ones to silence the lies and replace them with truth.
Because when you hold yourself back, you’re depriving a whole bunch of people from knowing the greatness of you – and through the greatness of you, the greatness of Him.
Go get plugged-in, sister. Kick that fear to the curb. The church needs good people like you.
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I look forward to connecting with you!