EDITORIAL: To What Are You Being Invited? By Jeffry Kochikuzhyil, CANADA

A mistaken invitation may be embarrassing, dangerous, or even tragic. Whether it was sent inadvertently, intercepted accidentally, or misinterpreted erroneously, it can cause damage and pain to the unintended recipient.

Generally, an invitation implies two primary options: to accept or to decline. Receiving an invitation confronts us with a choice. We can directly choose to follow through with the request being made in the invitation, or we can reject what is being asked.

As a graduate student in 2019, I volunteered with a group on the University of Alberta campus. It was a ministry-based organization that sought to evangelize international students coming to Canada from foreign countries through open invitations to meals, homes, and trips. These avenues built a community, enabling a unique opportunity for non-believers to walk in fellowship with followers of Jesus. Students would gather weekly in a Canadian home for a meal, Bible-based discussions, songs, games, and socialization. This would extend to monthly overnight trips, staying at either Christian campgrounds or with Canadian hosts from partnering churches.

The fall trip came at the end of September, and I declined the invitation to attend as a student leader by using midterm exams as an excuse. I nimbly escaped the November trip by utilizing part-time jobs and academic commitments.

At November’s end, James, the man of God leading the ministry, asked me to come serve at the annual Christmas Camp. I told him that I possibly couldn’t due to final exams. He exclaimed, “But Jeffry, the camp dates were selected to align with the end of final exams!” I told him I would think about it. The following week, James inquired whether I could come to the camp. I said that I was reluctant due to the fees. He assured me about sponsors covering camp costs for students in need. Despite being able to afford it on a student budget, he suggested reimbursing the expenses post-graduation, which I found acceptable but remained noncommittal.

A week passed and James approached me again, asking whether I would attend the camp. I told him I couldn’t, since it was overnight, and my parents wouldn’t approve. Gently, he said, “Jeffry, I would be very happy to talk to your parents and explain why this camp is worthwhile for you, and how you would be serving Jesus while attending.” Embarrassed, I told him that wouldn’t be necessary, and that I could convince my parents myself with his lines. Another week passed, and James asked me again whether I would come to Christmas Camp. I told him that I had concerns with the washrooms and beds, especially during the Canadian winter, and didn’t think it would be wise to camp in that season. He shared, “Jeffry, the camp has indoor plumbing with hot showers, and heated cabins to sleep in.” I had finally run out of excuses, and now it was time for the truth.

Now, in Western culture, the prevailing mantra is “you do you,” echoing Judges 21:25, where “…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” James had cornered me, and I knew it was time to give him the line that would make him permanently back off with his ceaseless and meddlesome invitations. “You know what James? I’m just not comfortable coming to Christmas Camp.” And he backed off, accepted my answer, and let me live my life in peace and comfort, with no moral or spiritual lessons learned. No! Of course not. With a twinkle in the eye and teeth all bared in a wide-open smile, perhaps akin to the look that Delilah must have given Samson when he revealed the secret of his strength to her, James posed to me a question I continue asking myself years later, “Jeffry, is Jesus inviting you to be comfortable?”

I needed a moment. The boldness of the question shocked me, and I laughed at the preposterousness. The God of the universe, the one who tasked us with taking up our cross and following Him, denying ourselves and seeking Him, forsaking all others in pursuit of Him, was He inviting me to live in comfort and ease? The word “invite” is defined as “solicit to come”. However, it can also mean “challenge”. I accepted and embraced an illusory invitation until its validity was challenged.

I went to the Christmas Camp in the winter of 2019. In the interim, I was able to go on other trips and activities, get my Malayalam church more involved in student ministry, even hosting programs with 100+ students, and witness some of these students come to faith and begin a new life in Christ that many of us hereditary Christians take for granted.

Had God let me continue attending to my mistaken invitation, I’d have missed many opportunities, and possibly witnessed a tragic realization someday that Jesus was never inviting me to be comfortable. The question I now ask myself regularly, and that I pose to you is this: what is Jesus inviting you to?



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