June 17, 2019
Jesus performed a lot of miracles over the course of his ministry. He healed people, fed them, walked on water and his first miracle, my personal favorite, turned water into wine.
Possibly because of the Jew’s history as a nomadic desert tribe, possibly due to it’s cleaning and healing properties and possibly due it’s essential life sustaining qualities, water figures prominently in many of Jesus’ miracles.
The Jews understood that water has some remarkable power and they were very good at creating rituals around the use of water. Ceremonial washing alone figures into well over half of the Jewish law in some way or another.
Last week I wrote about Judging Correctly based on Jesus encounter with the Pharisees over healing and ceremonial washing on the sabbath. Picking up from that theme and my personal reflections on the power of gratitude over the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have Rivers of Living water flowing through us.
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. [Jesus, John 7:37b,38]
It wasn’t until recently that I read that statement of Jesus in it’s entirety within it’s proper context. When I first read it and learned about living water the emphasis had always been on the first sentence only. If you are thirsty, come and drink. While that is a fine analogy, true to the experience of most Christ-followers it only tells half the story.
Coming to Jesus for your own sake does nothing to advance the kingdom. Jesus doesn’t stop by saying that he is here for our personal sustenance, he goes on to say that the rivers of living water will flow from within us. The King James bible says that the water will flow out of our belly. The Revised Standard Version says it will flow out of our heart. And The Message says that rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes.
The imagery is clear, Jesus sustaining, thirst quenching, purifying, living water is not meant to be kept for ourselves. It is meant to overflow out of us into the world.
Think about the Dead Sea. Fresh water flows into it from the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee but is has no where to go. The only thing that keeps the Dead Sea from overflowing its banks is evaporation. As the fresh water evaporates it leaves behind heavy minerals, like salt. The Dead Sea is dead because it takes in but never lets out.
Don’t be like the Dead Sea!
The other day I said that gratitude is the fuel that drives passion through positive feedback. The more grateful we are for the things we have the more people are willing to support us. Jesus’ living water flowing out of us does the same thing. It draws people toward us to bask in the positive flow of love and grace that we exude. These then become the same people we need to build up our positive flow and the fountain of living water can become (with Jesus’ help) a self-sustaining spring.
This is a new perspective for me. I’m still learning what it all means. But I know this for sure; by expressing gratitude for the things I have been given I am living a life of abundance beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
And it just keeps getting better. Be grateful!