“Whosoever will let him [sic] come” is the statement of invitation that Black preachers often make when “opening the ‘spiritual’ doors of the church.” This invitation is for those who are un-churched or un-saved (not Christian) to become members of a local Church and/or the Universal Church—the larger group of Believers who profess Jesus as personal Savior, i.e., a belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, regardless of church affiliation.
For a long time, I thought ministers made-up the statement, until I discovered that it was possibly inspired by Rev. 22:17, which is an invitation to anyone who wants to accept the Water of Life (i.e., Jesus) to “Come.” This notion of invitation is a seminal posture of the relational therapist. It’s a posture in the sense that we offer an invitation to change, which mean the client can reject the invitation. The client is free to say, “No thank-you” I’m not interested.” Jesus extended an invitational as well. He never even tried to force anything upon anyone. He offered or invited, and they responded according to their own will. This is how authentic healing works. People have to hunger and thirst for healing, then seek it before it is possible to be healed. Likewise, we in the therapeutic community offer an invitation with the hope that the client accepts it, and only then can healing begin. However, we accept whatever the client decides, as it is always our goal to honor the client’s voice.
Impediments in Relationships
Absolute thinking is a sure way to hinder connections with others. Condemning and confining “shoulds” are prescribed behaviors and attitudes in the Christian community that may prevent or impede real connections. Now, please, please understand that I know that there are spiritual absolutes, e.g., who God is–and in the Christian faith–who Jesus is. Now, stay with me on this. I’m talking about how-to connect with people because the most important aspect of our faith is to love others. So, don’t allow yourself to be distracted from what is most important. Biblically speaking, the Pharisees were notorious for behavior that can be most dramatically described as swatting gnats and swallowing camels (Matt. 23:24), i.e., focusing on small things and missing the greater message or teaching.
This discussion is important because it encourages Christians to look inside themselves, to consider what really works, and what really matters in relationships, and to choose what is effective for change. So, condemning shoulds are a no-no if you are interested in connecting with others. No one wants or needs a lecture on how he or she should behave. Most people (small children included) know what is right and wrong. From my experience with couples and parents, constant nagging, preaching, or lecturing does not help or change behavior. It only alienates and frustrates. People who nag or preach do so because they don’t know how to relate in a way that gets what they really want—greater connection with those they love. To transform a relationship requires a different, more non-judgmental approach.
Confining shoulds give others few options for alternative actions. They limit possibilities. And the fewer the options, the more difficult it is to envision or see how to get unstuck or solve the problem. You will see when you read further about the therapeutic postures and attitudes how the approach opens up pathways to unlimited possibilities. This is the nature of what it means to be liberated, yet connected, in relationships.