In the last post, I made the bold claim that Christians need to (re)learn again and again how to receive the gospel. I then named 3 common roadblocks that inhibit our ability to receive good news and respond in small, concrete, and faithful ways.
Jacob, the brother of Jesus says to receive the word of God with meekness, which is able to save our souls. There is so much baggage around that word souls that we don’t have time to get into but this statement will serve this particular post specifically in regards to ‘receiving good news’. If you want an introduction into re-thinking the concept of soul, click the hyperlink.
What Does It Mean to Receive?
Without assuming I am giving an exhaustive meaning, let me offer some thoughts.
Meekness is a way of describing a particular type of human agency that is clothed in humility and trust. It’s not a posture of coercion and controlling but consenting and conceding.
Being expectant is about anticipating an encounter with God. It’s a way of seeing that anticipates the God who is always present and work, that he cares about us and that he is actually interacting in the mundane and ordinary moments of our lives. He’s not distant or apathetic but present and engaged. In fact, he’s actually waiting for us to meet him in our problems.
This coincides with expectancy but requires naming. The writer of Hebrews says that those who seek after God must trust that God actually rewards those who come. God is self-emptying love; he is a bottomless fountain of generosity and blessing.
This part is difficult because like the people of Israel we are often expecting either the right thing in the wrong package (a warrior God instead of the Peaceable Messiah) or we need a redefinition of what it means to be blessed (i.e. the sermon on the mount).
And yet, God is able (and willing) to do more than we could possibly think or imagine. Open your hands (and hearts and minds) to fresh encounters with the God revealed in Jesus.
Responsive -- participatory
Paul Barclay in his book, “Paul and the Gift” wonderfully explains that when God gives gifts, he always does so for the sake of a response. The gifts of God revealed in Jesus and his Spirit, are given to establish and sustain a relationship. They are also given to transform us. Our response is not to be seen as some form of “let me pay you back”. Rather, liken it to a friend who hosts a meal and our response is to feast and enjoy their company.
Responding is a part of the receiving.
How Do We Train to Do This?
Here is a suggestion:
Create space to gather with trusted friends to confess and share the challenges (good or bad) and problems you all are facing. Start by sharing one thing.
Discern together what’s at work beneath the surface through conversation and questions. See here for elaborated thoughts on this process.
Invite your friends to declare contextually appropriate proclamations of good news where lies and idols are detected.
Ask the Spirit to help you hear and receive the gospel afresh as an extension of God’s very presence and life.
Together, discern (if it is not already apparent), how Jesus is inviting you to live into this new reality that has opened up.