Some things must be driven for them to get to any particular place. At this point, at least cars can’t be sent to the store to get a few items on their on. They have to be driven there. If a person is to get cattle from one area of the country to another it will never work to send them an invitation and see how they respond. Someone will have to drive them if they are going to be moved in any particular direction. It seems that many people think that it’s the same situation with people. They act as though they have been commissioned to drive others in the direction and to the location they are interested in. But people don’t respond well to being driven.
The entire ministry of Jesus Christ was centered around invitations. In the Sermon on the Mount he said “Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.” Then he challenged those who heard him to “Enter into the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to death and many will go in that way because narrow is the gate difficult is the way that leads to life and few will find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
In John 7 at the feast of the Tabernacles Jesus stood on the last day of the feast and loudly said if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Out of him will flow rivers of living water.” Then in Matthew 11:28-30 we find the great invitation, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest to your soul for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Add to all of these John 6:43-44 when Jesus said “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up in the last day. As it is written, ‘They shall all be taught of God and whoever hears and learns of the Father comes to me” What do you visualize when you think of the Father drawing a person to him? I can imagine a man on the bank of a rushing river seeing a man caught in the waves and throwing a rope out to him to pull him to shore. I can imagine a magnet pulling objects to it.
Notice the drawing of the Father is tied to people being taught of God. It is those who hear and learn that come to him. Also, it would be foolish to think of the drawing setting aside the whole matter of one choosing to come in response to an invitation. If man didn’t have a choice and God did everything then there would be no need for an invitation. He could simply have demanded that we come to him.
Imagine working with your children when they were small. Did you invite them to come to the table to eat or did you tell them to come? When it was time for bed did you invite them to go to bed or did you tell them it is time for you to get into the bed. As they matured you likely did more and more inviting and allowing them to choose. But at first you forced them to do what you thought was best.
Later as the New Testament is ready to come to an end in Revelation 22:17 John said, “The Spirit and the bride say come. And let him who is thirsty come. And whoever will let him come and take of the water of life freely.” God through both the Holy Spirit and the church which is his bride invites all to come to him for life. He draws them through the teaching of his word.
It is impossible to drive people into a right relationship with
God. You can’t drive people to do right, to be moral or to have character. You can invite them to come and teach them God’s word but the only one who can make the choice is the person. Morality can’t be legislated. Think of how successful we have been as a country is forcing people not to used illegal drugs. No matter how strong we make the punishment, thousands of young and old still take the chance and get involved in the drug culture. You can teach them everything about what harm it brings but until they choose to live a different kind of life the problem will continue to grow all the time.
As a church belonging to God we are in the business of inviting, of drawing, and of teaching. We are to show others the right way by our lives for God. But it remains up to the individual how they will live their lives and who they will follow. Perhaps that helps to explain why Jesus said to elders in the church that they should not become lords over God’s heritage but be examples to the people . (I Peter 5:1-4) You can’t build a big enough fence to keep people in the church when they don’t choose to be part of the body.
Leave the driving to cattle and let’s learn the fine art of inviting, drawing and showing.