You are invited!”
Our hearts flutter when we see those words, don’t they? The power of personal invitation has the ability to not just make us smile, but to transform our place in the world. In no other place is this as evident as it is in the Bible, where we see the equivalent invitation from beginning to end — “Come and see!”
Notably, David invites us to “come and see the works of God” (Ps. 66:2). God himself invites his people to “come and see my glory” (Isa. 66:18). Jesus invites his disciples to see where he is staying (John 1:39). And Philip shares with Nathanial an invitation to meet the Messiah (John 1:46).
This very phrase invites us into something that we would otherwise not be part of. It conjures up images of open arms and embracing smiles — of the outsider being welcomed in and the lonely finding friends.
When we respond to God’s invitation to “come and see” the wonderful work He is doing and to spend time with Him, our lives are changed. The power of just one invitation has the power to change people and communities.
I have seen this my entire life. I am a third-generation missionary, a missionary kid to parents who love the Bible so much that they wanted to ensure it was available in people’s heart languages. I am a missionary grandkid to grandparents who served as medical missionaries as they brought healthcare to those without access to it.
Even before God placed a call on their hearts to engage in Bible translation work, my parents accepted God’s invitation to adopt a little boy from Vietnam. Then, they heard the invitation to adopt a little girl.
By the time I was 12, we had moved from Colorado to the Philippines and began work in Bible translation. A few years later, my parents adopted two Filipino boys. Our family — two parents, three biological kids, and four adopted kids — was complete.
If you ask my parents, they will say that adoption was always something they were looking to do. Both had grown up with a global context — my dad in an Air Force family and my mom working in Native American communities. Through the addition of my four adopted siblings, God himself had intentionally knit together our family and brought his love to bear upon all of all — from multiple countries and languages, and cultures.
Like Paul declares in Ephesians 1:5 that God decided in advance to adopt us into his family; so too did He extend the invitation for us to adopt others into our family. Adoption is only one manifestation of God’s invitation to join him today.
Why the Bible matters in our mission
None of us would go to a party to which we weren’t invited. The incredible thing about God and his Word is that it’s one all-inclusive, never-ending invitation for us to join him and for the world to know him. No one is outside of the scope of the invitation. In Luke 14, we have a picture for this type of invitation. Jesus is telling the parable of a man throwing a great banquet. He invites all of the notables and up-and-comers, but no one responds. Instead of canceling the party, the man invites all people in — the lame, the poor, the widow, the outsider. All those not invited have now been offered a place at the party.
This is what God’s Word has done for millennia. As we read Scripture, we see clearly not only God’s invitation to us, but his desire that all would be saved, that He died for the whole world, and that true religion cares for those in need. The wooing power of God’s Word makes us do things we never thought we’d do. This was certainly the case for my parents when they adopted my four siblings. This is true for me as I continue the work of Bible education through Wycliffe Bible Translators. And it’s why I’m so passionate about teaching kids and families about the importance of God’s Word in their own life.
I have the privilege of authoring Kate & Mack, our kids and
family resources that teach about the importance of everyone understanding God’s love in their own language. Kate is a Wycliffe missionary kid, and together with her best friend, Mack, she travels around the world and meets kids from other languages, cultures, and countries. Most importantly, Kate learns how much God loves everyone, no matter where they live or what language they speak.
Kate has a younger brother, Manny, who is adopted from Mexico. I wanted to introduce Manny to the series as a way of teaching kids and family that we’re all adopted — into God’s global family. Just like my family chose to adopt my siblings and bring them into our family, God adopts us into his family when we believe in his Son, Jesus. It’s an open invitation to join His family, and we just need to accept the invitation for ourselves.
But unless the Bible is available to people in their language, and unless those of us who have it open it up and read it, we risk missing the countless invitations God is offering to us. An unopened invitation does no one any good.
I can’t imagine my life without my siblings. My family is but one reflection of the diversity of God’s big family, where He knows all of our names and is using all of us to make the family even larger.
It’s the greatest invitation to all of us: Come and see the wonderful works of God and join Him in those works.
Melissa Paredes is Associate Director of Education Programs at Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, and author of the Kate & Mack books, which invite children to travel around the world to learn about different cultures and peoples, and most importantly, how much God loves all of us, no matter where we live or what language we speak.
Originally published on The Christian Post
(c) The Christian Post, used with permission