Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, invited to be an apostle . . . among whom you also are invited . . . to all who are loved of God in Rome, you are invited into the other-centeredness of love: Grace to you and peace from God our Father Himself and our Lord Jesus Christ.―Romans 1:1-7 (Personal Translation)
This week, there are three things I would like to point out about the first seven verses of one of the most revolutionary books in the Bible. This book, more than any other, has, century after century, radically changed the way people see God. Three words will be our focus: Apostleship, Invited and Himself.
First, Apostleship. What is an apostle? No, it’s not just a messenger or someone who is sent. Yes, by definition that is included, but consider the twelve. They were invited to have an very intimate relationship with Jesus that very few would have during His life. For three years, they were privileged to be able to relate to Jesus “behind the veil.” Paul states that he, too, was invited to be an apostle even though Jesus had ascended. The three years were over, but God was still extending this level of intimacy to Paul, but not just Paul. Take note! “Among whom you also are invited. . .” Could this truly be what God desires for you too? To enter into the same closeness and understanding that the original twelve were privileged to? Is He really extending that kind of relationship, that level of familiarity, to us?
The second word holds the answer to that question: “Invited.” To invite is defined as “to ask somebody to come or go somewhere or to do something, to ask for something or say that something should be welcomed, to encourage or provoke something that might not have happened otherwise.” God is saying to you that you are welcome to enter in. He is encouraging you to enter, engaging you by the powerful combination of His other-centered love yet leaving you in complete freedom to remain outside. That is what makes His love so attractive. Yes, He wants you, but He only wants you to enter in if that is what you desire as well. Compelling, but not compulsory. Forceful, but not forcing. Deeply attractive, but never overpowering. God’s grand “invitation” to you is for you to enter into this intimacy with Him, the God of the Universe!
Finally, “Himself.” Anyone who knows grammar knows that the “selfs” are only used for two purposes: One, to refer back to the subject, and the other is solely for emphasis. In this text it is used for emphasis. Not because of Jesus, not for Jesus, not by Jesus, but the Father Himself is inviting you.
In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you . . . . John 16:26-27
Can you hear the Father’s voice right now? He is calling . . . The Father Himself is waiting, longing to enter your heart. Why don’t you let Him come in? This week, make the conscious decision to enter into the embrace of His perfect love more deeply. Throw open the doors of your affection, lower your guard, yield to His generous, self-abandoning love for you. Give to Him some of your time this week. Like the apostles of old, walk with Him, speak to Him, but more importantly . . . listen.
I wish you God’s best this week . . .