Water. Refreshing cool water on a hot day. Growing up, we drank it out of the hose. We took turns and made sure we didn’t get our mouth on the end of the hose. Well, most of us did. There was always that one guy. After a while, you made sure that he drank last. Sure, the water had warmed up in the hose, but if you let it run a little bit, by the time you got to drink, it was the best refreshment in the world when we were hot and sweaty after intense games of baseball or kick the can. Growing up, there was nothing better than water from the hose. But you always had to let it run first, not only to clear out the hot water, but sometimes leaves and dirt got stuck in the end. If you got ready to drink before the water was turned on, you might get a mouthful of leaves!
One of the marvels of ancient Rome was their system of aqueducts that brought fresh water in from far places. Israel didn’t connect to the Roman aqueduct system. In Israel, water came either from wells or from rivers. While the water that came from the wells was always refreshing, it took a lot of work to get that water. A river, though, that was special. You could stand in a river and just let the water flow over you. You could drink the water straight out of the river, and it would most likely be cool. The motion of the river actually leads to cleaning of the water. Jesus had this in mind when He talked about those who would believe in Him. “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)
Jesus had confrontations throughout His life. They all seemed to be problems with the religious elite. Jesus shattered their conventions. These elite folks had God all figured out like card counters at a Vegas blackjack table. They knew which laws to keep and which buttons to push to make sure that God would do what they wanted to do. Or so they thought. Jesus shattered their illusions and they didn’t like that. He healed on the Sabbath. He called Himself the Son of God, which they understood, correctly mind you, as being the same as calling Himself God. He taught on His own authority and didn’t rely on the great teachers of the past. When the religious elite sent soldiers to arrest Jesus, they too were enthralled with His teaching and couldn’t bring themselves to arrest Him. He was a breath of fresh air; a cool cup of water on a cold day. His promise/charge here is that rivers of living water will flow out of those who believe.
What comes out of your mouth? What comes out of your heart. Do people welcome your presence like a cool refreshing river, or do they spit it out like leaves stuck in a hose? The fresh, living water that should flow from us is the grace of God. There are those who would seek to condemn others and make sure they know how much of a spiritual bath they need. Instead of offering streams of living water (grace) to refresh their souls, we remind them how dirty they are. Instead of opening a window to heaven so that they can see Jesus and His love and mercy, we hold a mirror up so that all they see, and all they feel, is the condemnation of God. Today, let people experience the power of streams of living water as you interact with them. Let that water flow and break down the barriers of sin and shame. Let that living water leave behind the amazing grace of God so that people will know how much God loves them. Today, be a refreshing change in the lives of people who need that change to happen in them. Let them see the love of Christ whenever they look at you, or think about you.
Oh Lord, there are so many of us Christians who are full of stagnant, brackish water. People look at us and see things other than love and grace. Let all that I say and do show others how much You love them.