“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
BEING TRULY OPEN TO GOD MEANS NOT ONLY THAT WE ARE WILLING TO ACCEPT THE TRUTH ABOUT HIM BUT THAT WE ARE EAGER TO WELCOME HIM INTO OUR HEARTS AND LIVES. The Thessalonians to whom Paul had preached the gospel were not gullible, but there is no denying that they were favorably disposed toward the possibility that what they had heard might be the truth. And when they were shown sufficient evidence to convince them that the message was indeed true, they did not hesitate to respond to it obediently. “When you received the word of God which you heard from us,” Paul wrote, “you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.”
The thing that often makes us less than receptive to God, of course, is the fact that He calls upon us to “put off the old” and “put on the new” (Ephesians 4:20-24). We cannot have God without turning away from the things that separated us from Him in the first place. He requires us to let go of our sinful self-will, give up the ill-gotten gains of our disobedience, and make a radical commitment to yield to His will for the rest of our lives.
Decisions about repentance and obedience are always difficult. In many cases they turn out to be quite painfully difficult. But there is no other cure for what ails us. And if turning away from our sins is something we’re not willing to do, for whatever reason, then it’s not likely that God will find a welcome reception in our hearts. On the other hand, if we’ve caught any glimpse of the joy that fellowship with God would bring to us, then no price will be too great to pay to learn that love. We’ll not even balk at the requirement of repentance. Our hearts and our minds will be open to Him. We will be ready to receive whatever He has for us.
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there.
For thou alone are my King and my Lord.
(Dimitri of Rostov)