A Wholehearted Invitation

A Hindu lecturer on educational subjects was addressing an audience of educationalists in South India when he paused and said: “I see that a good many of you here are Christians. Now, this is not a religious lecture, but I would like to pause long enough to say that, if you Christians would live like Jesus Christ, India would be at your feet tomorrow.” He said nothing less than the very truth.

From “The Christ of the Indian Road” by E. Stanley Jones

I sometimes feel like our society, can address contemporary issues in ways that do not include an invitation to freedom that the very alive, life of Jesus offers. While above statement from E. Stanley Jones can feel condemning at first – the offer, I think was sincere.

In my own interpretation I would think the lecturer might be saying, “Don’t add religious tones to your preconceived notions, as to add weight to them because they are religious. Give us Jesus. If Jesus were here, we would all be at his feet to at least request his services as a follower, if not savior. If the life in front of me was one of Jesus, not in selfish concern for power in the contemporary dimensions, but in service from a different Kingdom altogether, the whole country, in fact the whole world would bow.” The mission statement of our church is “to invite our community to welcome Jesus into all of life.”

While it’s true that our contemporary religious and societal and political systems need reform the best of our systematic approaches will never compare with the wholeness that Jesus offers from a completely different kingdom. At the end of the day, while some may look to the systems to feed their daily hunger for identity and even self-awareness, we all have a hunger for something deeper which has the capacity to draw the whole world. In such a competitive landscape I am often afraid to offer it as it seems foolish and upside-down. It’s not just bread and water but living bread and living water. It’s not just a visit to an imprisoned murderer but the power to transform the prisoners heart. It’s not just clothes for the naked, but an offer of vulnerability that allows the whole self to be naked again and yet safe. It’s not just a welcoming of an alien but a wholehearted invitation into a contemporary and yet eternal family.