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What is a Culture of Invitation?



Theme: Reflecting God’s Love and Not Hoarding It.


I recall, around 2013, watching a viral video of an orphaned teenager standing on the steps of a church pleading for anyone to adopt him. Dressed in his best suit, he stood before a podium to say he wasn't picky. They could be black or white, old or young, mom or dad. He just wanted "someone to love him until the day he died." He said he was growing impatient but would not lose hope. "I know God hasn't given up on me, so I am not giving up on myself." In response to his plea, the foster agency received hundreds of inquiries about giving him a home. Over the next year, this young man was in and out of foster homes, with varied problems with siblings, causing each not to work out.


This young man leaned heavily on his case worker and developed a strong, accepting bond with her during this process. The process changed when the young man asked his case worker to be his mom. She stated, "In adoption, there is a claiming moment when you know someone is your child. When he called me to ask, I just knew. When he asked me, my heart just ached, and in that moment, I just knew he was my son."


"I want him to know unconditional love for who he is, the way he is. As a family, we will be there through the good and bad in our lifetime. He is home."


When Kirby and I left our church after our first visit, we felt the same way as this young man. We, too, wanted to be adopted into this family and wanted to ask, "Would you adopt us?" We felt accepted for who we were, as we were, and loved unconditionally.


The people of this world are crying out to be part of a family, accepted as they are, and loved unconditionally. Yes, most don't cry out loudly, but all long to belong to a loving family. As Prevenient Grace works in every person's life, each will sense the need for a more profound existence beyond the flesh. What is our church's role in this process?


We need to feel that ache in our collective heart and, when they enter our home, to know, regardless of how they look or seem lost, each is ours in Christ and loved for who they are in that moment.


That is the culture of invitation, and it is not mechanical or processed. It is merely to love in the Spirit, as God loves each of us.


 


Scripture: 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭1‬-‭13‬ ‭(NIV)


“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”‬‬


 

Prayer:


Oh, Dear God, please let me know as much of how you love me as I can before exploding. Let me feel the love you had at the moment of creation, when you designed our home, and created us to live with you in it. Let me experience for real the love you continue to have for us after we turned and continue to turn our backs on you. You could have left us Lord, rejected us totally as a mistake. Instead, you gave up paradise to come live amongst us, not as a King, but as a servant. Who does that? Only You! Lord, we can never accomplish this total surrender on our own, so please recreate our hearts, individually and collectively, so that we abandon all pretense, and the need to judge others using our own standards. Overwhelm us with your love, so that it has no choice but to flow out of us into each person we meet. Give us your love.

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