Friday, June 6, 2008

The Key To Christianity

The key to Christianity is receiving. It is not giving and it is not doing.

Giving and doing is secondary and will flow out of our receiving.

The truth is; we can’t even become Christians without receiving. Christ must be received as savior in order to become a Christian. And the reason for this is simply because we need him and the salvation that he has for us. We cannot produce it ourselves.

And it is no different after we have accepted Christ as savior. In order to have what we lack, we must receive it from God.

The bible says that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights…” they come from God. They do not come from us. (Jas. 1:17)

And unless we receive what we need from God, we will not have anything from God to give… How can we forgive like God forgives if we have not received his forgiveness; and how can we love like God loves if we have not received God’s love? And how can we have finances and goods from God to give, unless we first receive them from God. If we do not receive God’s blessings, we will not have God’s blessings to give.

For those of you who are familiar with the story of the prodigal son, think for a moment of the elder brother, the one who stayed at home while his younger brother was in the world wasting his inheritance in sinful living. It turned out that this elder brother, (though loyal and committed) thought his life was about his work and serving his father, never knowing or taking advantage of his father’s provision. And because he did not know or receive his father’s goodness and blessings and love for himself, he had no love to give when his younger brother repentantly came home. He was resentful and bitter when his father received the wayward boy with joy and forgiveness, and when he put a robe on his back, a ring on his finger, and honored him with a great feast. The elder brother simply did not have the same love to give as the father had because he had never received it for himself.

And do you think this elder brother’s lack of understanding may have contributed to the younger brother leaving home in the first place? As the younger brother looked up to his older brother, (as younger brothers will do) he may have seen that his older brother was unfulfilled and bitter. Maybe the boy wanted no part of that kind of life. Why would he? He then mistakenly went into the world to get what he thought he could not get at home, only to find that this type of getting was destructive to his life and his substance.

How many of our children choose to live in the world and in sin because all they see is that Christianity is about serving and doing and demands? Ouch! (Lk. 15:11-32)

Christianity is about God and what he has done for us through Christ. It is not about what we can do for God. When Christianity becomes about what we can do for God, it then becomes about us and what WE do, not about God and what HE does. It becomes “self” centered and “self” righteousness, not God centered, not fulfilling and not loving. We then can become as the elder brother in this story became; dry, bitter, and law oriented.

But the enemy wants us to believe that receiving is selfish and that all Christianity is about is serving and doing and giving. He wants to drain us, make us miserable, self-righteous, bitter, unfulfilled and unable to bless the world. And he wants God to look like a demanding God who always “wants” something from us, rather than be the giver and blesser that he is.

But an attitude of receiving is NOT selfishness. It is in reality selflessness. It is thinking of God who wants to bless us. And it is thinking of Jesus, who suffered and died so we could be blessed, and it is thinking of those around us who need what we receive from God. And, yes, it is thinking about ourselves, but not in a selfish way. As I will explain receiving from God is how we are to love ourselves.

Jesus commanded us to love others as we love ourselves. We cannot love others unless we first love ourselves. And the way we love ourselves is to let God love us. For example, it is the best kind of self love when we receive Jesus and the forgiveness he offers us!

The truth is that God just loves us and wants to bless us and be a part of our lives. That is all he ever wanted. And he knows that if we receive from him, we will have “him” to give. And if we don’t, we won’t. Receiving from God is not selfishness. It is just the opposite.

When Jesus came to Peter to wash his feet, Peter said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” But Jesus answered him saying, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”

Peter had it all backwards. He thought humility was to not let Jesus wash his feet, but that was actually pride and it was arrogance. Can you imagine telling Jesus no to what he wanted to do, as if Jesus was making a mistake? But Peter quickly corrected himself saying, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head.” True humility is to let God wash our feet. And if we don’t allow God to wash our feet and to serve us, we will not have any part with him. Yes, it takes humility to let God serve us, but that’s what it takes. (Jn. 13:8-9)

Think for a moment about the relationship of children and their fathers. Do children think it is their responsibility to meet their father’s needs? How can they? They rightfully expect the father to meet theirs, and a good father takes great pleasure in pouring his love and blessings and gifts on his children. Of course he wants them to be responsible and generous with what they have, but first and foremost he wants to bless them. And it is no different with God and his children.

God spoke through John the apostle when he said, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” In other words, as much as God wants our souls to prosper is as much as he wants every part of our lives to prosper, (and above ALL things). That means that before anything else he wants to bless his children. That is first on a good father’s heart and it is first on God’s. (3Jn2)

Putting God first in our lives does not mean serving him. It means receiving from him.

And love is not about our loving God, it is about God loving us. Again St. John said, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loves us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1Jn. 4:10)

God is the greatest giver of all. And the only way to be part of him is to become a receiver. Without receiving from God, we’ll have nothing of God for ourselves or for the world, nor will the world be able to see what God is really like.

The key to Christianity is receiving!

One last point here… Things are simply different in the New Testament than they were in the Old. Jesus came to change them and he did. Whereas the Old Testament laid out the law and what man was required to do for God, (and was only given to prove that we could not do them) the New Testament is about grace and what God has done for us through Jesus. And the only way to enter into God’s grace and to have what we cannot produce ourselves is to receive.

Let’s let God be God and live a life of receiving from him as our God. It is what God always wanted for us and always will. He is a good Father and wants to pour his life and his blessings on us, and he has done so through his Son. And it is in receiving from him that we will be filled with all he is and all he has and then can be a blessing to the world around us.

The truth is; what goes in will come out, but nothing in, nothing out.

And don’t worry; God will never run out and neither will we if we live a life of receiving from him!

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of : “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

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