When I started dating my wife, she asked me to go out to eat at a Chinese Buffet. I told her repeatedly that I do not like Chinese food. Every experience of anything remotely oriental was disgusting, and rice was a waste of plate space. Finally, after her begging and pleading, I went. As you can imagine, I loved it. It was so good. I ate till I felt sick and then asked if we could go back the next week. I had no idea what I had been missing.
I thought of this story recently after a conversation with an elderly lady in the Church. She had spent her whole life living outside of faith. She never went to Church, never understood Jesus, and definitely had no interest in Christians. Over time her children became believers, but she was still not interested in any of that religious stuff. Finally, a couple of years ago, she came to a worship program one Sunday morning to quiet her son. She never imagined what happened next.
She explained that the people were so friendly. “They shook my hand and made me feel comfortable,” she stated. No one pointed out her flaws and failure, even though many could have done so. She thought it was because she came on a special Sunday. She returned to find the people happy to see her again. Over time the focus went from the people to the message, and she heard the good news of grace and forgiveness. The story of Jesus and his work on the cross made sense to her. It was an opportunity to let go of the past and start fresh. Soon she decided to follow Jesus and was baptized.
Now almost three years have passed since the first visit. As she told the story, she said, “I had no idea what I was missing.”
I wonder how many people could tell a similar story. They had an idea about Church, Jesus, and Christians, and then they actually attended and experienced something incredible. Then my mind turned a different direction. I wonder how many people we know would change their mind if they joined us one Sunday. People will never know until they try, and they may never try until we ask. One invitation could change someone’s perspective and maybe their life.