September 19th, 2006


Receiving Christ

I do not claim this to be an all-encompassing study, just a few thoughts:

I have been thinking about this term "accepting Jesus", and where it falls short of adequately explaining the essence of Christian life.  Obviously, the term is something I've shied away from, but this post isn't to mock those who embrace the term, for I feel that there is some bit of truth in "accepting Jesus".  This truth, however, has been dressed in subjective sentimentality and thus one must be careful with it.  Moreover, biblicly we see the language of "receiving" Christ is more substantiated, which I believe is a more correct way of speaking, properly understood.

When I stand before the Throne of God I would hope that Jesus accepts me.  It doesn't seem to matter much if I somehow feel that I have accepted Him.  He is a Lord and I am His slave.  The words we wait to hear are "Well done, my good and faithful servant," and I do not think we'll have anything to say ourselves.

But- and in theology there is always a "But" - the Scriptures do provide us with language to speak of "receiving" Christ.  As St. John writes: Yet to all who received him...he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).  And again, in the Revelation of St. John, Jesus is portrayed knocking at our door, wanting to sup with us and refusing to force Himself on us.  So yes, there is a sense in which we receive Christ, praying all the while that He will also receive us at the end of the Age.

However, in order to know anything about receiving Him we must consider how He comes to us, and when we realize in what manner He does come to us, we are faced difficulties. I would like to focus on the fact that He comes to us as King and Master and that He comes to us as shameless Lover.  These are not easy to accept by themselves let alone reconcile as a whole, but nonetheless these are our faith.  

He comes as King, destroying the darkness and calling all of us to bow before Him.  It is true that one can know this Christ, and even know Him as friend, but it must be a friendship tempered by a realization of His fierce divinity, tempered by the pictures we're given of the Christ in St. John's Revelation.

What is more, embarrassingly more, is that He comes to us as a beggar, as a shameless lover.  Yes, He does stand at the door and knock.  But our door?  This filthy door that hides all the filthiness that lays inside our home?  This door that houses all the sin and anger that would kill Christ in a wretched manner - He comes to this door?  We then realize that this is the God who appears to have no shame.  He comes to us and we kill Him; He enters even the depths of hell for a harlot who makes a habit of betraying Him.  What an embarrassing thing, this "receiving Christ"!

The language of "accepting" God is moot.  We have no choice in the matter.  He accepts us and we submit to Him.  "Receiving" Him, however, does have a place in our vocabulary.  But we do not start out by receiving him as "friend".  It is not casual, comfortable or easy.  We receive Him as triumphant Conqueror and as shameless Lover - and this requires much faith.