The Great Invitation

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Take my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29

We all receive many invitations in our lives, but one invitation that arrived in our mailbox stands out from all the rest. My wife and I were invited to The White House for a special celebration. Excited, we immediately cleared our schedule and made plans to attend. We were all in on this invitation.

The level of our enthusiasm to an invitation is often determined by the person who extends it. Here in Matthew’s Gospel we are given an invitation not by the leader of the free world, but by Jesus, the creator of the universe. Jesus invites us to come to him and enter into a personal apprenticeship with him. What a great invitation this truly is, but what will our response be?

Jesus’ great invitation is framed in a metaphor and filled with a promise. The agrarian metaphor of the yoke brought with it a picture of a young ox being yoked to a master ox in order to be trained. In the training yoke, side by side, the young ox would in time become just like the master ox. When we say yes to Jesus’ great invitation, we say goodbye to an old self-centered way of life, and we enter a new way of life in the master’s yoke of apprenticeship. Yoked to Jesus, we learn to live our lives like Jesus would if he were us.

In Jesus’ yoke we are spiritually formed. We learn to live the life we were originally designed to live back in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world. This is what Jesus promises when he says he will give us rest. The biblical idea of rest finds its original framework in Genesis 2:1, where we read God rested on the seventh day. God was not tired from his work, rather he paused from his work to delight in it and celebrate the perfection of his good creation.

If we surrender in faith and enter Jesus’ yoke of apprenticeship, we will experience the integral life we truly long to live, the life we have been designed to live. Our apprenticeship with Jesus will inform and transform every nook and cranny of our lives, our relationships, our recreation, and our work. Jesus’ great invitation invites you to find true rest for your soul.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Jesus has extended to us the greatest invitation imaginable. Have you said yes to him? Have you entered Jesus’ yoke of apprenticeship? Are Jesus’ precepts and practices informing and transforming every nook and cranny of our lives? Is there a relationship, an affection of our hearts, or an attitude that needs to be surrendered today?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, because of your atoning death on the cross, you have made it possible for me to enter your yoke of apprenticeship. Thank you for your great invitation. I want to be yoked with you. Instruct, guide, and empower me to learn how you would live my life if you were me today. Tune my ears to the gentle whispers of your wise and loving instruction. Train me to live as you have created and redeemed me to live. Help me to do good work today and to be faithful in my vocational calling. Fill my heart with a sacrificial love for each person you providentially bring into my life today. Amen.

P.S. From Mark Roberts: Tom is senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas. He is the author of several books, including one of the finest books I have ever read on faith and work, Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. Tom, whom I have had the privilege of meeting at Laity Lodge, is a man of deep faith and wisdom. I'm delighted to welcome him as this week's "guest reflector," and I commend his reflections to you with enthusiasm.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.