You can tell what people are most passionate about simply by listening to what they talk about and how often they talk about it. It was plain to all who listened what Jesus Christ was passionate about. Jesus taught about His Father in Heaven at least 181 times in the scriptures. In fact in 1 out of every 140 of his recorded words, Jesus was speaking about His Father. Have you ever stopped to think about what it would mean to receive the same father’s love that Jesus talked about so intimately and affectionately?
As Christians we talk a lot about believing but probably not enough about receiving. Learning to receive rather than feeling like we have to take it for ourselves is one of the differences between acting as an orphan and living as an adopted child.
Everyone knows how panicked a teenager gets when they can’t receive Wi-Fi! A reception problem can cause major family issues! But our struggle to receive can show up in different ways in our daily life that aren’t just connected to technology.
I have met many people who simply are not able accept compliments. You say something like “You’re an amazing singer…” and they immediately respond with “Oh but I am not as good as him or her.” You might say “You are such a great friend” and they say “Oh but I never do enough for people”. The compliment doesn’t land and gets deflected straight off.
For others they are actually okay with compliments about their achievements but struggle with compliments about character. When we achieve something great or win or earn it we love to get affirmation, but we can’t accept a compliment for who we are because deep down it jars against our sense that we have to earn affection. Many who struggle to receive a compliment from a human, can also struggle to receive love from the Father. We have a reception problem.
Receiving help and care
When I was ill recently, a number of people asked after me and said they were praying for me. Someone I don’t know well asked at work and I reacted negatively internally. I didn’t want them to think I was weak. Even in this minor issue I struggled to receive care and concern. I have to challenge myself - Is it enough for me to give care, or do I need to learn to receive it too? Is it okay for me to be vulnerable, is it okay for me to be weak? We often feel fine when we are the ones doing “community” because we are still in control and we don’t have to be vulnerable. Receiving creates moments of connection. Prioritizing giving over receiving can sometimes be a convenient way to keep people distant and our hearts defended. We have a reception problem.
Receiving invites us out of the place of control and into vulnerability. We all know the people who are relationship drainers – those who demand time, energy and love off us, they take take take but it is never enough because they don’t know how to receive. The irony is, that when we are caught in the attention and approval cycle and are seeking love we are actually unable to receive it even when our efforts “pay off.” We strive for intimacy but actually we fear it because we don’t know what to do with love when we find it. We have a problem with our reception.
So how do we deal with our spiritual reception problem? Well just like that teenager who runs around the room trying to find the best connection, we have to adjust our position. Not a physical position, but a mind-set one. What if the reason Jesus spoke so obsessively about His Father is because of how incredible it is when we are able to experience and receive His love? What if we don’t actually have to DO anything, we simply have to start to receive?