“That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:9-14
“Our faith … is, was, and will be to eternity a belief in the Lord God the Savior, whose humanity is divine and whose divinity is human. It is a faith, then, that is adapted for reception. It is a faith that unites what is divine and spiritual to what is human and earthly. It becomes a spiritual faith on an earthly plane. What is earthly then becomes transparent from the spiritual light of our faith. The truths that constitute our faith are as many as the verses in the sacred tome. These truths are all like stars, whose light reveals, and shows the shape of, our faith. People acquire this faith from the Word by means of their earthly light--the light of knowledge, thought, and persuasion; but if people believe in the Lord, He turns this faith into conviction, trust, and confidence. Through this process their faith comes to be spiritual as well as earthly, and enlivened by goodwill.” True Christianity n.137
I was watching a football game while pondering how to talk about receiving the Lord. I would like to think I was experiencing the process discussed in the above passage, in which the Lord infills a merely natural idea with spiritual life! As I watched, a player received a pass, eluded the defenders and made a score. The home crowd cheered loudly (and so did I, as it was my town’s team that scored!) And the analogy came alive–receiving the Lord and receiving the pass! I shared the image with some folks, who, being even more perceptive football fans than I, took the image to a wonderful length! Here is my take on this extra-Biblical metaphor, which might be instructive during this season of college Bowl Games and then the professional championship in January.
Having said all that, the next part of the analogy is dependent on the teaching above about my work in receiving the goodness and truth the Lord is throwing to me. At this time in my life, I have a certain amount of knowledge, a certain pattern of thought, and I am subject to certain persuasions. As I read the Word, I learn the play the Lord has set for me. I have a route to travel, and I need to go full speed in my life. I slow down to avoid defenders. I make turns, some of them sharp. But I do so only when, in the light of the play the Lord has set for me, I see the defenders as forces for evil, which would stop me, or make me go in the wrong direction. There is some bit of work I have to do to elude them.
Knowledge and experience together have given me a certain set of skills, and the Lord knows all about them. I have a set of ideas about the Lord and my life that are persuasive. The Lord knows this, too, and takes into account the false persuasions by which I am deluded. Often, I see that the pass He has thrown is leading me to change my direction. I have to be careful not to trip over my own feet. I do know that He is always throwing the ball ahead of me, which is very important to remember. While my accumulated knowledge and experience is always enough to get me to the place where the Lord is aiming the ball, sometimes I inexplicably out run the Lord. I think I know a faster way to the goal, maybe by cutting a corner. I find I have to choose to come back to the ball. This can be really hard, but the Lord knows just where I can get to and when I will arrive.
Well, enough of such musings on this analogy. I hope I do not appear to be flip. Receiving the Lord is serious business. And the Word, and its internal sense, is holy. My intention is that by reflecting on this you really have a clear image, and even a visceral sensation, of these important spiritual principles. The incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ is all for the purpose of giving us love and wisdom in a way that we can receive it. Let us do what we are supposed to do to open our hearts and minds this Christmas season, receiving the Lord’s love for us. And then find a way to pass it on!
Precursor December 2007