(Originally written once upon a time when someone thought it would be a good idea to let me speak in church )
I believe that God has an invitation for his people today and I think that he would say to us what he said to Peter in John 21. The invitation is “follow me.” Peter had heard these words before, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and had responded in the best way that he knew how. But a lot had happened between then and now. Peter had messed up, big time. In Jesus’ darkest days, Peter had first followed at a distance, and then denied his Savior outright. But here is Jesus, walking along the shore, reaching out again.
This “follow me” doesn’t mean “come check out my claims, maybe you should give this faith thing a try.” Peter had already done that. And most of us have too. Instead, Jesus’ words are an invitation to intense obedience. It’s as if Jesus is saying “I know you. I’ve seen who you are when it really matters. But I am Grace. I am Redemption. I love you—deeply, passionately and I want all of you. I want your best.”
Today, I believe that Jesus is inviting us too. He wants all of us. He wants our best. Not just our good intentions. Not just our good theology. He wants us to trust him with our time, our passion, our money. I don’t know what your response to the invitation to follow Christ needs to look like. I don’t know what he is calling you to give. But I do know that if we take his invitation to intense obedience seriously, it will change our lives, and our church.
I know that one of the obstacles that I have to confront when Jesus challenges me to give more generously is fear. Somehow, even though I have experienced his provision again and again, my memory is short.
Allow me to jog our memories this morning. The God who asks for our best is the God described in the Old Testament as El Shaddai… the Almighty and All-Sufficient One.
The God who asks for our best is the God who provided a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire to lead Moses and his people through the Red Sea.
The God who asks for our best is the God who provided the Ark of the Covenant to lead Joshua and his people through the Jordan River.
The God who asks for our best is the God who provided a son to Abraham, and then provided a ram in the bushes so that son could live.
The God who asks for our best is the God who provided manna from heaven, water from a rock and food for five thousand.
The God who asks for our best is the God who provided a perfect, sinless sacrifice so that you and I could walk in abundant, eternal life.
The God who asks for our best has a proven track record. He has the resources to provide for us infinitely more capably than our own frantic striving can.
And so the invitation stands. Jesus is reaching out to us. He knows us. He’s seen who we are when it really matters.
He is Grace.
He is Redemption.
He loves us—deeply, passionately and he wants all of us.
Not a casual nod of assent. Not an hour on Sunday morning. Not whatever money we can rustle up after we’ve spent what we please.
He wants our best. He calls us to intense obedience. Hear his word to us today. “Follow me.”