Another method of eliciting affirmation is much less subtle. It’s usually posted as a question which would cull positive responses back to the poster. “If I was drowning, would you save me?” Of course people would, and would say so (those that would not likely aren’t Facebook “friends” anyway), but as these types of posts continue, only those who need to be an affirmer, a rescuer, end up replying. The posters are crying for positive feedback, needing to hear they are worthy, but over time elicit less of it. It’s a Peter and the Wolf syndrome.
We all do this to some extent, soliciting compliments in order to bolster our self-image. I write stories or essays or reviews and point people to them, hoping they enjoy it. I might not overtly be asking for someone to tell me they liked it, but isn’t that what we want, to hear we’re doing something worthwhile?
How you approach it depends on how you might approach learning itself. My Dad is into origins, and enjoys studying original Greek and Hebrew. Some new believers might like this. They could read with a concordance, looking up “Grace” or “Love” or “Mercy” and be led to specific sections of scripture. This is great for people who like to chew their meat a lot. Others might want to start with more basics, such as the Gospels and, as Al mentioned, the three letters of John. I love Ephesians. It’s practical and offers great tools for new believers, such as putting on the armor of God, a powerful analogy for equipping yourself for the spiritual battles to come.
In many ways Leviathan is God’s church, too big for us to contain in any box. It is a rope woven with thousands of strands. Nothing can stand against it; nothing can break it. God’s church is a group of believers gathered in a hidden room, praising the Father and sharing his words, knowing they could die for such an act of communal love. God’s church is an elderly woman sitting in a pew singing the same hymns every week, celebrating her quiet faith with those around her. It is a group of young people wailing on guitars amid flashing lights and catchy videos; a couple traveling to an impoverished town to rebuild the lives of strangers for no other reason than they adore Jesus and want to add to his kingdom; a child drawing a sun and clouds and beneath it the words, “Jesus Loves Me” with the “S” backwards during Sunday school; women gathered around a sister suffering through illness; men patching the home of a neighbor in need; mothers reading Bible stories to their children and fathers showing how faith and strength are intertwined; people praying for their family and friends and government; a man on his deathbed staring at the ceiling and finally understanding he needs Jesus in that moment; people loving each other despite sometimes cosmic differences between them.
What we put inside us gives us life. What we see and hear and think is just as important as the food we ingest. Why don’t more people devour God’s word?
Who are you going to live with, Mom or Dad? A horrifying question no child should have to answer, but which most need to at some point. For me, I’m a “kid” in his mid-fifties having to answer this. My friends the pastors and their families, my wife and I and everyone else will find what answer works for us. For the moment, we have to pray and lean into God and each other, and not allow our light dim too much.