After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

Accepting invitations can be complex. Some people are quick to say “yes” to everything but end up over-booking themselves or struggle to actually show up. Some people are better at extending an invitation than accepting one. Others may feel too busy, too stressed, or too out of place to say “yes.” For all of us, it’s a little more complicated with COVID-19 and the necessary safety precautions. Why is it such a big deal to say “yes” to an invitation, even a kingdom-advancing step, in this busy world?

If we look to Jesus as our model for accepting invitations, we see he had a reputation for it! He accepted an invitation to the wedding in Cana and did his first miracle (John 2:1-11). He accepted an invitation to eat dinner at Levi’s house and demonstrated the heart of God toward people typically overlooked (Luke 5:27-32). Jesus accepted so many invitations. Many people had unexpected encounters with the kingdom because Jesus said “yes” to invitations, even invitations from people most others would have turned down.

Think about the invitations you’ve declined in the last few months. Why did you say “no”? In some cases you may have had legitimate reasons to say “no,” but were there times you could have, and probably should have said “yes”? Be honest with yourself about the opportunities you turned down because of selfish reasons or fear. Be ready to accept the next invitation you receive going forward. It may help to think of what kind of invitation is safe for you to accept during COVID-19. Or, if you’re finding yourself worn out and without energy to say “yes” to things, ask yourself how you can recharge so you will be able to be in community with others.

By Jessica Rust