Chances are you know a few people far from God. And chances are you want them to take a step closer to God. You want them to experience a bit of what you are experiencing. You want them to know they are loved, wanted, and befriended by the God who made them.
But there is a bit of a problem when it comes to reaching people far from God. They are often not particularly interested in God. After all, if they were interested, most likely they wouldn’t be far from him. And because they are not interested, they don’t typically just come out and ask, What must I do to be saved?
So what do we do? Throw more parties.
Here is why I say this.
In Luke 5:27 – 32 we see Jesus reach out to a man named Levi.
Most likely Levi wasn’t all that interested in following God. His job as a tax collector points to this reality. You see tax collectors in those days were a bit like the Sheriff of Nottingham in the classic Robin Hood stories, because they lined their pockets by demanding people pay more taxes than they could or should.
And yet Jesus reaches out to Levi by inviting Levi to follow him.
Now if you look closely at the story, you’ll notice Jesus doesn’t make this complicated or weird. He doesn’t tell Levi everything he needs to know about God’s plan of salvation. He doesn’t walk through a systematic theology of the Christian Faith. He doesn’t talk about his deity, or the virgin birth. He doesn’t even tell Levi to leave his life of sin. Not that those things don’t matter, they just typically come a bit later.
So how does Jesus reach out to Levi? Essentially, Jesus asks Levi a simple question. Levi are you interested in a different life?
If Levi says no, it’s no big deal. But if he says yes, a journey begins that will change Levi forever. And in this we see that even people who are very far from God are just one simple question away from starting a journey of faith. Are you interested in a different life?
Thankfully Levi says yes. And the next thing Levi does is to throw a huge party for a bunch of his friends who are far from God. It’s like after hearing the good news that his life story can be different, Levi wants other people to be given a chance to choose a different story. So he throws a party and invites Jesus to it because he wants his friends to know that their lives can be different too.
And just in case you wonder if all of this is true, Jesus says: I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
And just in case you wonder if God is okay with you throwing parties, Jesus says I tell you, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous person who need no repentance…it is fitting to celebrate and be glad for he was lost and is found.
So throw parties for people who are far from God. And as they are having a blast, ask them one simple question: Are you interested in a different life?
If their answer is yes, invite them to follow Jesus.