I was out on a run the other morning, thinking about one simple word: “Come.”
It’s a word of invitation; something we say to someone we want to spend time with. “Come on over!” we entreat a friend we’ve run into at the park or after church, to our family as holidays approach, to someone we know needs a place of refuge for awhile. I’d been thinking about some heart disappointments I’ve had recently; mostly times I’ve offered invitations that have been turned down. It’s funny, the ease with which we reject invitations these days, when our society suffers from the worst case of loneliness overall that’s ever been seen—so much so that the situation is referred to as “epidemic”, posing a significant heath threat (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/loneliness-is-harmful-to-our-nations-health/ ).
If we’re so lonely, why do we turn down invitations? Are we too busy? Too involved in activities at school or church or work to take time to invest in *actual relationships? Are we being inoculated to our need for face-to-face interaction by the ever-present ease of social media “likes” and comments? I’m not sure what the source of our laissez-fair approach to invitations is, but I do know one thing:
An invitation is a gift.
And I wonder … have we forgotten what it means to be invited?
An invitation indicates someone has chosen to prepare for us in some way. It means our presence is valued and desired, that the relationship means something to the one doing the inviting.
A rejected invitation means something else. I mean, sure, sometimes we’re legitimately unable to attend—we’re out of town, previously engaged, extremely ill. But too often? If we’re honest, it means we just don’t value our relationship with that person enough to make the effort to invest in it.
As I ran that morning, this verse popped into my mind: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’” Rev. 22:17. While I haven’t spent much time in the book of Revelation lately, this scripture is still a familiar one; just one I don’t think about very often. John is responding to the vision he’s had on the isle of Patmos, revealing the glory of God and future glory of the saints. The phrase sums up what we long for now: Come, Lord Jesus. And it’s not just the Bride of Christ saying it: it’s the Spirit, too. Which means that the Spirit of God is here on earth with us, longing for Jesus to return and make all things new, set it all straight, take His throne visibly and finally.
The Spirit is here. I usually don’t pay a lot of attention to that fact.
Often, I’m living like some Lone Ranger, trying to figure everything out myself, to power through, to “make it on my own” like it’s some badge of honor.
What’s more, it’s not reality. The very Spirit of God is with me, as near as the air I breathe.
“He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me;for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Acts 1:4-5
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:26
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:17
Did you catch that? Jesus said the Spirit abides with you and will be in you. Right now, just take a deep breath and let it sink in; ask God to make you aware of His nearness in this moment.
When God is invited, He always responds.
He is never too busy, too distracted, too far to come to you. In fact, He is so responsive that He’s come to live literally with and in you (John 14:7).
We are still waiting and watching for His return, for the final summing up of all things in Him. We will ache when our personal invitations are declined, and we will feel lonely when we find ourselves alone. We are, after all, human—broken, imperfect, prone to distraction and selfishness and laziness—and so is everyone else. We can never meet every need of every person around us, and no one will ever meet our needs perfectly..
No one but One.
Which is why the Spirit and the Bride will continue to say to Jesus, “Come.”