Believe + Receive = Become.
12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.
We need to clarify for the unchurched that intellectually believing in Christ is only part of the answer. One way is to use a Bible verse that provides a spiritual equation that spells out with math-like efficiency what it really means to become a Christian. As I recite John 1:12, I ask them to listen for the active verbs: ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.’
Those verbs make up the equation: believe + receive = become. To believe is intellectually to agree that Christ sacrificed Himself to pay for the wrongs we’ve committed. That’s important, I tell them, but don’t stop there. Some people sit in churches for years, stuck at this point, and they wonder why their spiritual life is stagnant. The next verb in the equation is critically important, too. We need to receive God’s free offer of forgiveness and etemal life. We have to claim it for our own, because until we do that, it’s not ours; it’s just something we know about in our head. So it’s necessary for us to admit our wrongdoing, turn away from it, and humbly accept Christ’s payment on our behalf. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Jesus said, ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
Faith is work.
It is a struggle.
You must struggle
with all your heart.
And on the way God
will ambush you.
Walter Wangerin, novelist
This weeks reading from “Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Reading From The Northumbria Community” Harper Collins/NY ©2002