The Difference

"Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, 'Stay with us, since it it getting late.' So He went home with them." Luke 24:29

The difference Jesus can make in a person's life is built upon their personal passion for consistent companionship with Him. When Jesus had completed a seven mile walk with two discouraged disciples, Luke's account records that, "Jesus acted as if he were going on." v. 29a

This does not attribute a flair for the dramatic to Jesus, or accuse Him of being disingenuous. It merely describes the character of Jesus when he is testing the level of intensity a person has for his companionship. He will not force Himself on those who need Him. He offers Himself, but coerces no one. The couple had a choice to make. They chose wisely.

"But they begged Him, 'Stay with us." - Luke 24:29b

One of may earliest memories of church life is the movement that would take place in the congregation a the beginning of The Invitation. This is the point in a Southern Baptist church service, when the preacher used to call people forward, after they completed their sermon. The were invited to step from their pew, and walk down the aisle, take the preacher by the hand, and make a public profession of their faith in Christ, transfer their letter, surrender for full time Christian service, or my favorite, rededicate their lives. This last one was a sure, cure all for what ailed you.

The Invitation triggered several immediate physical responses that would make Pavlov's dogs proud. The first was "The Baptist Salute." This was a lifting of the arm and raising it to eye level to check the wristwatch, and determine if the preacher "went over" or if it was still possible to beat the Methodists to the cafeteria. The other was a general gathering of all the pious paraphernalia. Coat-check. Gloves-check. Purse-check. Sunday School artwork-check. Fallen macaroni - leave for the janitor. Bible - check. Bulletin - ditto for janitor. Put coat on kids - check. Prepare to exit - check.

As I watched this movement take place, I learned at a very early age that it just didn't take much to satisfy most people's hunger level for Jesus. Don't get me wrong. They had come to the church house to hear a little bit about Jesus, but they just weren't all that interested in taking Jesus home to their house. Jesus had approached them, during the sermon, but He didn't arouse any passion in their hearts for extending Him an invitation such as, "Stay with us."

Note to self: You can have all of Jesus you really desire to have. Being filled with His Spirit's Presence is not so much a matter of you having more of Jesus, as it is Jesus having more of you. When you make yourself available to Him, He makes Himself available to you.

"So He went home with them." Luke 24:29

Herein lies the difference between a High Attendance Day at church, and the Great Awakening that this nation really needs. Too much focus is placed on getting people to come to the church house, when Jesus is really interested in making a difference at your house. Jesus will not beg for an invitation to come home with you, but when you ask, He will stay with you.

Daily, not just on Sunday, Jesus is available to His followers. Thankfully, there are some who just can't get enough of Him. At best, most pious posers check in on Jesus once a week at the church house, but they rarely find the need to add a plate for him, or offer him a place of honor at their house. By the time the preacher wraps up the sermon on Sunday, they have been satisfied with a light snack, They are willing to let Jesus walk right past them, and have fellowship with someone else who really hungers for a daily feast with Him.

Ben Franklin wrote in his autobiography about the impact that the preaching of George Whitefield had on the citizens of the city of Philadelphia. Franklin was no flaming evangelist. By his own admission, in his autobiography he states that he never gave Whitefield the satisfaction of knowing if he was converted. That being so, he still loved his city, and he knew it was drifting, and in need of a course correction. What impressed him the most about Whitefield's preaching, was the power it had to get outside the walls of the church. People were transformed. He observed that they took what they heard at the church house, back to their house, and they transformed their city's culture. He spoke of Whitefield's preaching as,

"wonderful...change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seem'd as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street."

As witnessed by Franklin, the early signs of the First Great Awakening revealed Jesus was making a difference in the homes of the people of America. The next Great Awakening must do the same. It will not be enough for an Awakening to fill the church house. Jesus must be invited home to your house. He goes where He is invited, and where He stays, He makes a difference. Put out the welcome mat today.