“Répondez, s’il vous plaît .”

“Reply, if you please.”

“Please respond.”

Weddings.  Birthday celebrations.  Graduations.  Special dinners.  Ceremonies marking promotions, retirement, or other significant milestones in life.  Award presentations.  All of these are events to which you might receive a special, personal invitation.  In this age of email, text, and Twitter, there is something extraordinarily nice about receiving a printed, formal invitation to an event. 

“You are cordially invited to …”  “The honor of your presence is requested at …”  It is not a summons for jury duty or a subpoena to appear in court.  You are not being compelled to attend.  The invitation communicates your value as a person to the one who is inviting you, and the event is described in such a way that enhances your desire to be present. 

Jesus invites.  Jesus asks.  Jesus offers. 

As the eternal Son of God, a sharer in the Divine Nature, and the Creator of the cosmos who has all authority in heaven and on earth, Jesus has every right to compel His creation to submit to His will.  He could have entered the world as an authoritarian overlord who barked orders, screamed commands at His subjects, and demanded conformity to His iron-fisted rule. 

Instead, He came with an offer of eternal life, an invitation to salvation.  He didn’t “round up” disciples like a rancher herding animals, forcibly driving them to a destination.  As the gentle Shepherd, He said, “Follow me,” and left it up to individual hearts and minds to listen to His voice and follow in His steps. 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). 

Jesus invites us because He loves us and because He wants what is eternally best for us.  He doesn’t want us to have to suffer the consequences for our sins.  He desires our presence with Him for eternity.  He wants us to enjoy abundant life, even while we are here on this earth.  He longs to grant us forgiveness, peace, comfort, hope, and fellowship.  But He loves us enough to let us choose acceptance or rejection of His gift and grace. 

Have you RSVPed?