An Invitation

Last Sunday, Kelly Ohlin taught on ‘Speaking In Tongues.’
Now, if this were my message, I would’ve spent 10 minutes explaining spiritual gifts, 30 seconds on tongues, and 35 minutes more reminding us all that we don’t have to do anything to be accepted by God, that we already are. This would’ve been my message because I’ve been damaged by the church. I’ve been damaged by people who told me I had to do something. I’ve been told that I wasn’t really a Christian if I didn’t speak in tongues; that I hadn’t actually fallen in love.
This would’ve been my message because I spent the first 25 years of my life distrusting the whole business of God. Over and over, the news carried thieves, murderers and adulterers, all ‘men of God.’ Church was on TV, with bigger and louder shows. The religious extravaganzas became assaults, unrecognizable from the rest of the programming, as they railed against ‘the world.’ Always, these spectacles showcased people falling over like logs, and others shouting out all over the audience in languages no one knew or could understand.
I decided they were all hucksters, fakers, all, as Holden Caulfield would say, phonies.
I balled Jesus up with them and turned my back on everything.
Eventually, I would meet Jesus and fall in love and realize that, if anyone hated inauthenticity more than me, it was Him. He spent an awful lot of His time wearing out the religious folks that were very good at keeping rules and telling others how awesome they were. He wasn’t pointing fingers and shouting, His was a very different agenda.
Which is why, I think, Kelly’s message has resonated with me all week, why I can’t stop thinking about it. They had the same agenda.
She said, this is what it means to speak in tongues, and here it is in the Scriptures. Then, she did not tell us we had to, she told us we could. And in that one word, could, it all made sense. She said, this is available to you, it’s been wonderful for me, maybe it would be for you, too.
Let’s say you had a house that had a dance floor behind a special door in the basement. Wouldn’t you want to know it’s there? Wouldn’t you want to know it’s available to you?
The Nirvana album, Nevernind, has a secret track after the last song, as do countless others. Many video games have secret levels. DVD’s have things called Easter Eggs with special hidden content. These things are available to you, don’t you want to know?
The difference between ‘had to’ and ‘could’ is Kelly gently handing you an invitation.
The difference between the agendas of the religious elite and Jesus is the same, the invitation. Jesus comes, not with more rules and instructions, He comes with an invitation to know Him, to be with Him, to hold His hand, to love Him. He will not make anyone do anything. He will not coerce, shame or manipulate. Instead, He will invite you into Him, introduce you to yourself – as you have been created, and nothing is ever the same again.

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