Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
If Matthew 28:18-20 is the Great Commission, then this is the Great Invitation. Chapter 21 makes it clear that the Bride here is the Church, the Body of Christ. The invitation to receive God’s free gift of eternal life comes from God’s Spirit, and it also comes from the Church. Those who hear that invitation are enjoined to repeat it. The only condition mentioned here is being thirsty, desiring the water of life. Frankly, there are those who act like they aren’t thirsty. They don’t want the water of life because they see the commitment to Jesus’ Lordship as restricting, rather than liberating. As in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-32) the Father is waiting to welcome all who will return to Him, but sadly, many do not. This is why Jesus spoke the Beatitudes. (Matthew 5:3-12) Those who recognize their spiritual need are indeed blessed, because they turn to God for fulfillment. Times of material abundance are often spiritually numbing, and that can be tragic. We tend to frame all of our wants and needs in material terms, but that ignores the fact that we are fundamentally spiritual beings. That is the greatest tragedy of atheistic insistence on evolution, as opposed to creation. In that view, we are no more than animals, and have no spiritual dimension. People cling to that because they don’t want to acknowledge moral responsibility, but it is actually nihilism at its worst.
As one who has heard and responded to the Great Invitation, I seek to repeat it to all who will hear, but for the most part it has been slow going. At times I am amazed at people’s stubborn rejection of God’s grace and love, but then I remember my own times of foolish pride, and I realize we aren’t that much different. As a pastor, I not only seek to repeat God’s invitation myself, I seek to encourage the believers to do likewise. Japanese society is very private about internal matters, and faith is seen as perhaps the most internal of all. That presents a major barrier to personal evangelism. However, I have found that when I am sensitive to the appointments God sets up, the people I talk to are very open to hear what He says through me. I need to help the believers trust that God has such appointments for them also, and that He will speak through them as well, or better, than He does through me.
Father, thank You for the privilege of repeating Your invitation. I pray for all who have heard it through me, that they would have the courage to accept it. It is indeed life-changing, and that creates anxiety in many. Help them let go of the life they have been clinging to so that they may take hold of the eternal life You offer, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!