For the past weeks now, we have been engaging ourselves in an activity of nose-bleeding discussions about the Bible, specifically, about Jesus Christ and His ministry. Such eye-openers the discussions were, that it had been hard to let-sink at first but eventually it did (honestly, it’s still in the process of sinking.) The lessons that one has learned from that faithful day that we started Sunday Schooling to attending youth activities and Bible studies have slowly been defunct to give way to a new kind of learning, that, which, however difficult it is to absorb, makes more and perfect sense. Thus, the lesson of the Kingdom of Heaven- what it is, what it means, how to get into it, how to live in it, and all that- was slowly learned. And I don’t know if it is to prove that we have actually learned something or because we haven’t had ‘discipleship’ for quite some time now, or because the giver of the assignment likes reading or because we need to, actually refresh ourselves, that we are doing this essay on how to invite others in the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever the reason behind the homework is, it all boils down to another nose-bleeding experience (Believe me, as I’m doing this, I have a tissue box beside me.)
How do you invite others in the kingdom of God?
Base on the past lessons, the general answer to the question would have been focused on Discipleship, such that we pass by a step by step process of (a) winning the lost, (b) building the believer, (c) equipping the workers, (d) multiplying and making disciples. Or the answer would have been something straight from what we have been discussing such that to be able to invite people in the kingdom of God, you pattern after the ministry of Jesus Christ and so the essay would have delved into a discussion of how Jesus discipled: How He selected them and how He shared His life with them and continually prepared them. But then, in the context of the here and now, how do you invite others in the kingdom of God?
Obviously, you can’t stand up as John the Baptist did and shout “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,” because ironically, if you do that now, people will look at you like they look at our friendly neighbor, Liberty. Also, the probability is low that you will approach someone on the street and ask him to follow you just as you are following Christ, that would look plain silly- for the man you invited and for yourself- again this is in the here and now context. There is also low possibility that you can go out in the streets and start healing the lepers and driving out demon-possessed because, for one, you’ll find that lepers are hard to find in the streets of Manila and if you start healing people, Jessica Soho will soon be after you. In addition to this, you can’t exactly stand on the mountain (or in this case the roof of some household,) to start reliving the Sermon on the Mount, not that it’s impossible, just off the hook. And so, given these cases of impossibilities due to context, how then do we invite others in the kingdom of God?
By twisting facts: You might not be able to stand up as John the Baptist did before to shout: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” but you do have the ability to do something. You might not be able to approach someone on the street and ask him to follow you as you follow Christ and be self-conscious about it and wonder if you deserve to be followed, but you can be an example- a model of something that they would want to follow and when you come to think of it, it won’t really sound as silly giving invitations on the street to first invite them to your church and come check Jesus out.
You might not also be healing people outside of their physical infirmities but rest assured, that the act of healing before the Sermon on the Mount is plainly to show that “Actions speak louder especially if seen before the words.” Given that, it is only feasible to say, that to be able to invite others in the Kingdom of God, we have to be able to reach out to them not immediately by street evangelisms or giving out tracts but by simple and little acts of kindness or big acts of community services. In action, this would mean that the church would learn to provide first of all the physical needs of the people before they could get them to believe that beyond this needs, a greater need is at hand which is that of their spirituality.
Lastly, there might not be any mountain to preach on to anymore but there are a lot of places and ways wherein you can share God’s word.
The ministry of Jesus Christ, at least the beginnings of what we have learned, has already, even just at the forefront, offered strategies and ways on how we can actually invite people inside the kingdom. Similarly, just as it was with us, the inviting cannot be forced down your throat, it has to slide down smoothly because only then can it be fully appreciated and digested in the process (Kung hindi, e di natibe pa yan, problema pang malaki. Tsk, tsk…)
In summary, there are many ways that we can achieve the task of inviting people in the Kingdom, we can do street evangelisms again, we can do community services, we can invite them to our activities and have fellowships with them, we can stay with them and live with them for them to see in us, firstly, the joy of being in that kingdom that we are trying to impart to them, we can have concerts and plays, we can go with the styles of the world and name our organizations to that which they can easily relate to and feel cool about it (such as it is with ASTIG), we can give away Bibles, we can pray for them and do all those stuffs; but in the end it will all boil down to these things:
The power of prayer. Pray that God opens their eyes, because no matter how many pail of sweat and blood you pour, its pretty much useless without God’s provision
How well you lived your life for God and with God. For it is this life that they will follow to the Kingdom of God
How well you set your invitation. For it is this process of inviting that will have enticed them to go with you on your journey
How well you lived with them and stayed with them and left everything behind for the sense of the journey
How well you did at the end of the journey. Such that when you look behind, you’ll see those that you invited in the kingdom and those that have chosen to follow; and when you look in front you, you’ll see God smiling down at you welcoming you into bliss of glorious eternity with Him.
That will be the day.