“Stop inviting me to church man. I know all about it and I want nothing to do with it, please, leave me alone!”
I spoke these words to a dear friend, who had “found Jesus” and wouldn’t stop nagging me to go to church. He was like an older brother to me and he was persistent. I couldn’t take anymore and was desperate to maintain our friendship, but I needed to muzzle him about this whole Jesus thing if our relationship was to continue.
Have you ever encountered someone like this in your life? Most of us have. We each react differently to them. I don’t know if there is a way to get your Christian friends to layoff on the sharing Jesus with you, but I thought I had had come up with a surefire plan to get him off my back. My plan was simple. I would go to church once so long as he promised never to invite me again. He bit! I couldn’t believe it and suddenly thought I needed to renegotiate as I felt like I set the bar too low. I immediately added that I was going to attend in the clothes I was wearing at the time—a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. This didn’t phase my buddy at all, he was just happy that I was going to join him at church.
At the time, I was an active duty Navy SEAL venturing into a protestant church for the first time and I was terrified! I would have much rather been jumping out of a plane at night with full combat gear rather than walking into church that night. My thoughts were filled with criticism to everything I heard that night, but I couldn’t help but to notice how nice and loving the people were. No one seemed to care about my attire (most of them were in the same style of clothing), but they genuinely seemed to care about me. Clearly, there was something different about them and this impacted me greatly.
I ventured back another time, then another time and then I was looking forward to going each week. My internal criticalness was still there week after week, but I continued to return. I’m not sure why I returned after I had fulfilled what I told my buddy I would do—it could have been the free pizza, but more likely I was drawn to the people who demonstrated a love that I had never experienced before. It wasn’t too many months later that I discovered this Jesus who had transformed their lives and my life was forever changed.
I’ve never forgotten how annoying my friend’s invitations were to me. He wouldn’t give up. He drove me crazy asking me to join him for church week after week. I am now eternally grateful he didn’t give up or let up on inviting me. For those of you who have these nagging friends, know that they invite you because they love you. They desire that you experience what they have experienced in Christ.
Easter is just around the corner, next Sunday, April 5. I’m not sure that I am allowed to invite you to church in light of the title of this article, but we at Valley Baptist Church welcomes you to celebrate Easter with us this year. We don’t care about what you’re wearing; we care about you. If you don’t join us, I’d encourage you to visit any one of the other great churches in our community like Pauma Valley Community Church, Ridgeview Church, Valley Center Community Church, or Horizon Fellowship Valley Center.