Reviewed by Marshall Hughes
The Invitation by Greg Sidders
Part tough love and part encouragement, The Invitation is just like good parenting and will, in the end, inspire you and lead you in the right direction.
"Soon after I started following Jesus, I started avoiding him at all costs."
So starts Greg Sidders book about, well, the cost of discipleship. Jesus invites us (hence, the title of the book) to follow him. Accepting the invitation is not a cost-free endeavour, but as Jim Elliot, well-known missionary to Ecuador, said, "He is no fool who gives us what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Sidders, a pastor in Cumberland, Maine, writes in a friendly, non-confrontational style, yet manages to challenge people (at least after the first 50 pages or so) to go beyond a comfortable Christian life.
The Invitation is an easy read with short chapters and interesting anecdotes to illustrate the author's main points. Perhaps the most interesting story is that of a "life saving society" of the late 1700s in Nantucket, MA, whose members volunteered to go out into the ocean to rescue sailors whose ships had wrecked in the stormy waters. The motto of this group was, "You have to go out but you don't have to come back." This is an interesting allegory to the Christian life.
Another section that stuck out to me was the story of Mike Christian, a POW in the Vietnam War. Sidders contrasted the cost of his saying the Pledge of Allegiance (virtually no cost) to that of Christian, who was taken out of his cell and beaten after making a US flag and saying the Pledge in his Vietnamese prison cell. So it is with the cost of being a Christian in a free society contrasted with the cost of being a Christian in other places, ie many Muslim countries.
Still, the book is not heavy handed and is, overall, encouraging.
There is a short "study guide" at the end of the book with Bible
verses to read before each chapter in the book and questions to answer
after reading each chapter. There is also a "Christ-quote" to
Marshall Hughes is a former sports writer for the Honolulu Advertiser. For most of the past 22 years he has taught English in Japan. He has taught at the university level in America, Japan and China. Among his hobbies are sports, traveling and photography. He has been to 41 countries and is always hoping to go somewhere new. He is an award-winning photographer in both Japan and America. His bi-lines include The Washington Post, The Pacific Daily News (Guam), The Contra Costa Times and several sports publications.