Everyone loves to receive an invitation, don’t they?
My children race up to me giddy, waving the prized paper joyfully overhead every time they’ve received another birthday party invite or word of some exciting holiday event.
They, it seems, are the wise ones.
Lately it has struck me, how often invitations are refused. I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve planned a dinner, party, birthday gathering, or Bible study, only to have invitation after invitation rejected. Once in awhile, someone has a real reason they can’t make it; all too often—the bulk of the time, in fact—people seem to offer excuses of being “too busy.”
Too busy for fellowship. Too busy to break bread together. Too busy to take a few hours out of our schedules to talk about Jesus and pray for one another. Really? May I humbly suggest that if we find ourselves always turning down invitations or, conversely, never extending any, we have become much too busy for our own good, and are missing out on something crucial to the Christian life?
They broke bread together, day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart …” Acts 2:46
If we are too busy for others, too preoccupied with our own lives when times are good, we will likely find ourselves alone when they are not.
After my own last round of yet another invitation refused, I was very discouraged and honestly, frustrated. “Fine,” I thought, “I’m not going to invite them anymore. I’m done trying.” Immediately, I felt guilty. And then, this scripture came to mind …
‘A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame …. Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’” Luke 14:15-24
Two things are evident to me, here: first, the experience of having an invitation refused is not just my own; if I read between the lines correctly, even God Himself experiences rejection. And second of all, He doesn’t like it, either! Refusal has consequences: no longer being invited.
Do you find yourself in need of fellowship? Here’s a bit of advice: Next time an invitation comes your way, SAY YES. Really, unless there’s a truly compelling, unavoidable conflict, we should do our best to honor the invitations that are extended to us, knowing someone has put time and effort into whatever it is we’ve been invited to. Accepting an invitation honors the other person, while denial does the opposite.
And if no invitations are forthcoming, consider offering one. I pray the person on the other end will be wise enough to say yes.