Imagine that something disastrous has happened and you have slid off the edge of a cliff. You’re clear of the edge and there’s no chance of grabbing on any longer. You look down and see the floor of the canyon below. There’s no chance of survival. You will die. Suddenly, there’s a shout from above, “Grab my wrist!” as you feel a steely grip wrap around your own wrist. Do you choose to do nothing or do grasp that wrist with all the strength you have left?
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, – John 1:12, ESV
The word “receive” here is better translated “grasp after,” “cling to,” or “grab hold of.” If you understand that, it completely changes the way we look at this verse. John’s intent is to make us realize that as Christians and followers of Jesus Christ we are to be clinging to Him as if our life depended on it. This fits perfectly with verse 4 when Jesus is described as life (zoe) which means spiritual life. Our spiritual/eternal life depends on how tightly we cling to God, how desperately we grasp after Him.
If we are this desperate, if Christ pervades our every thought, if He is the principal focus of our lives, that He gives us the right to become children of God. There is no earthly title that compares with being adopted by Almighty God. However, it is only granted to those who are pursuing Jesus with such vigor and purpose. What John was trying to tell us is we can’t live our faith halfway. We want to be His? Then we have to give it everything. We have to treat our lives as if we were falling off that cliff and Jesus reached down and grabbed us.
When you consider your own walk, what is your effort level? Don’t read me wrong, your works don’t save you. Only grace through Jesus Christ does. However, our response to His gift of grace should be to treat Him as our all-consuming passion. Scripture tells us that when we do so, then all the other aspects of life will be taken care of. So throwing yourself fully into your relationship with Jesus Christ won’t mean neglecting what’s important. It will mean that some non-important things will go by the wayside but that’s okay, because none of that matters for eternity. And it’s eternity that should be our focus.