READ: Matthew 10:40-42
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.
41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward.
42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Oh Evangelicals! I think we need to seriously rethink a few of our common terms. I don't know how long we've hung our theological hat on "receiving Christ" as the way people become Christians -- the only reference I can think of that specifically mentions it is in Romans 3:25, "Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins."
There are two problems with making Romans 3:25 into a doctrinal statement: 1) when WE say the verse I think our 21st century western ears are hearing "I...I...I..." but that's not the context. Paul is talking about the distinction between Jew and "Greek". The context of the passage is corporate, not individual. This is much more a verse like the first half of John 3:16, "For God so loved the cosmos -- the world, the people in the world, and much less like the second half, "that whoever believes in him..."
Is there an individual dimension to faith? Of course. But individuals can't expect to experience faith separate from community. Outside of community, faith is merely a proposition. "I believe these things in principle and would put them into action if ever there was a place and people who would challenge my beliefs."
Challenge? Yes! The mere fact that Jesus talks about someone giving a cup of cold water in his name means there must be others who won't give a cup, or even a single ounce. When I first came in contact with Christians who took the Word of God seriously -- my terminology is intentional so as not to divide the sheep from the goats along liberal and conservative lines -- they were challenging me to receive Christ, when in reality the question was whether I would receive them.
I first heard the gospel preached at a Josh McDowell rally at U-Conn in the fall of 1974. I remember after the meeting taking two friends of mine aside and tearing them apart for believing in a literal hell and for thinking there was a God anywhere who would ever judge anyone. Man, I was angry! But it wasn't many days before I found myself at one of their club meetings, listening (albeit with a cynical ear) to more of the same. I wasn't there because I believed in Jesus. I was there because these people had been truly kind to me and had taken me seriously in the midst of what I perceived to be a scary, lonely environment. Before I could receive Christ I had to receive those he had sent. And doesn't Paul say the same in Romans 10:14? "But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"
The miracle of the gospel in present terms is in two kinds: the cup of cold water given is a miracle because it goes against our nature; the cup of cold water received is a miracle because it goes against our nature as well.
Dear Friend! Don't be an island of static belief today. Go... grab the nearest cup... find some cold water... find someone who needs the cold water you have... and pray they will receive the miracle of faith in Christ experienced in community.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.