I love invitations, don't you? I mean, that someone would like the pleasure of my company...or may need my help or input...or may just want to welcome me into the group (or family, or community, if you will)! What a pleasure and honor! And it's all good, as far as I'm concerned. Jesus loves invitations too...He is the Divine Initiator. Without His call...His invitation, we would be lost! And that's what faith is...responding to the Lord's invitation.
Years ago, I was teaching through the gospel of John. John's purpose in writing his gospel is stated in the closing chapters of that intimate, devotional gospel:
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31
Notice the key word believe. And as you read through this gospel, you see believe/belief and faith throughout.
There are also metaphors, describing who Jesus is to His people, scattered all through the gospel. So I set out on a quest to see if there might also be synonyms, even metaphors, for the the concept of faith.
But first I asked the question: What is true faith? It's not a work we drum up...not just intellectual assent (the devil "believes" and trembles, the Bible says). Without it, we can't please God! So what is it?
Here are some synonyms that I found (see if you can find these and others in the gospel of John as well as the other gospels):
eat Him, the Bread of Life -- John 6 drink Him, the Living water --John 3, 6, 7 hear and follow Him, the Good Shepherd -- John 10 believe in Him, the Resurrection & Life -- John 11 abide in Him the True Vine -- John 15
and my favorite of all...COME to Him -- throughout the gospel but especially John 5, 6, 7, and 11.
What a simple word, come. Even a small child understands come. Why? Because usually there's definite body language associated with it...a beckoning, a welcoming...
...and there's a certain facial expression -- a YES face, if you will.
Jesus, with His YES face, is always calling, welcoming, beckoning...COME to ME! Not just one time for eternal salvation, but all the time...
Come to Me in your grief and loss Come to Me in your anxiety
Come to me when you are happy Come to Me when you are sad
Come to Me when you've failed Come to me when you've succeeded
Come to Me when you've been left out and rejectedCome to Me when you've been included and accepted
Cometo Me when you are struggling with jealousy, comparison, gluttony, idolatry... Come to Me whenever...
So in the good times and the bad...and especially when the storms of life are raging, come to Christ!
And in the coming is faith...and He really loves that!
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. James 2:23
Next time we'll look at another friend of Jesus...one we all can identify with, Peter.
Until then, bask in the metaphors for faith in this moving song... COME to your LORD in the exact circumstances you find yourself! His invitation is always open!
Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus) Chris Rice
Weak and wounded sinner Lost and left to die O, raise your head, for love is passing by Come to Jesus Come to Jesus Come to Jesus and live!
Now your burden's lifted And carried far away And precious blood has washed away the stain, so Sing to Jesus Sing to Jesus Sing to Jesus and live!
And like a newborn baby Don't be afraid to crawl And remember when you walk Sometimes we fall...so Fall on Jesus Fall on Jesus Fall on Jesus and live!
Sometimes the way is lonely And steep and filled with pain So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then Cry to Jesus Cry to Jesus Cry to Jesus and live!
O, and when the love spills over And music fills the night And when you can't contain your joy inside, then Dance for Jesus Dance for Jesus Dance for Jesus and live!
And with your final heartbeat Kiss the world goodbye Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and Fly to Jesus Fly to Jesus Fly to Jesus and live!