Monday, January 13, 2014

FRAN Sunday - Inviting Others to Jesus

It's not FRAN DRESCHER Sunday!
This coming Sunday at my church is FRAN Sunday.  We're encouraging each of our members to invite FRAN to church--because it just might be that FRAN hasn't been to church in a very long time.  Who is FRAN?  FRAN isn't one person, but lots of people.  FRAN stands for our:

Associates, and

We're asking our folks to invite these people to church.  But inviting a friend to church is only part of it.  More importantly, we're inviting FRAN to Jesus.  If it stops at inviting, or bringing, people to church, we've missed the point.  If it ends there, then we've done no more than extend an invitation to a social club.  Inviting them to Jesus is the ultimate goal, because it's Jesus, not church, that will save their souls and change their lives forever.

In my quiet time this morning, I read from John 1:35-51 (NIV), which says:

 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.  When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.  Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”  He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

It's not FRAN KRANZ Sunday!
There's so much in this passage that it's difficult to know where to begin.  First, it's interesting that the two disciples of John began to follow Jesus, even before the Lord called to them.  He saw that they were interested and asked what they wanted.  They asked where He was abiding (this could be simply an inquiry as to his nightly lodgings, or a deeply spiritual question), and Jesus said, "Come, and you will see."  There are some people who are naturally going to follow Jesus, even without an invitation.  This is a wonderful thing, when people can be so self-motivated.  But others need a little prompting.

Next, we see Andrew bringing his brother Simon to Jesus.  With great excitement, he declares this new Teacher to be the Messiah.  When Jesus sees Simon, He says, "You will be called Cephas (which means Peter, or Rock)."  Notice that the Master doesn't say "You are called Cephas."  Jesus is speaking a prophetic word to Simon, of what he will become, if he becomes a disciple.

Then, Jesus finds Philip and says, "Follow me."  Philip immediately decides to bring a friend.  “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Pay attention to the fact that his statement of faith is both stronger and weaker than Andrew's.  He declares that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy, but says that Jesus is the Son of Joseph (rather than God).  Andrew never mentions prophecy, but immediately identifies Jesus as the Christ.  In either case, there is a statement of faith.  The point is that Jesus takes us as we are--whether we have all the right theological answers or not.

When Nathanael receives his invitation, he has to overcome his own personal presuppositions and prejudices before he can accept Jesus.  Many of the people that we invite to church, or that we invite to Jesus, will have their own preconceived notions about what that really means.  They may have objections and expectations that are unfounded.  Rather than debating with them, a simple "come and see" approach generates expectation and interest.  Once they come and see, they can have an experience with Jesus that will change their lives.

It's not even FRAN TARKENTON Sunday!
Whether you attend my congregation or not, I encourage you to make this Sunday your own personal FRAN Sunday.  Invite your friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors to church.  More importantly, invite them to Jesus.  Make it a simple invitation, free from obligation and without any coercion.  Let the Holy Spirit do the leading, but be faithful to give an invitation.  Who knows--maybe the heavens will open for them, and God will show them His salvation and marvelous wonders!

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