When I lived in West Virginia, the only major weather incidents we had to live through were a few power outages and some really cold temps from time to time (Dec-March!). Recently, my WV friends and church family had the opportunity to experience life without clean water due to a chemical spill. After days of only using water for toilets, the “licorice” smell seems gone and water back to potable levels. Allegedly. It might take a little while before I trusted that declaration.
Facebook posts on my news popped up from time to time. The first came from my former (but currently supporting church) Redeemer Presbyterian. The words, “If anyone needs water, he can come to the church to shower or drink. Our water is clean.”
What an opportunity to simply invite people in and serve them? No strings attached, just meeting needs in the community. Very cool.
But the church also has living water, of which people also need to come and drink regardless of whether that need is expressed in the same physical way (feeling of thirst and really bad b.o. when can’t bathe). I think the same type of mentality should actually be present in thinking about this living water, which is one way Jesus describes himself and what he offers us (John 4). Christians are not better people, simply people who have realized their need and found that need met by Jesus Himself. Of course belief is perpetual and Christians have to continually come back to Christ in repentance and faith.
We have found a place where there is water without cost. There is a safe harbor, a community welcoming other thirsty people who have decided to stop one-upping themselves before God and others, and have instead drunk deeply of the head waters of grace.
I realize many folks reject Christianity because they don’t like the idea of someone being Lord of their lives, or they can’t get around a guy raising from the dead, or even because they think that it is narrow. But I think many still reject a taste of what they think the gospel is.
The Christian cannot think of himself as better than another, primarily because he isn’t. If he or she can adopt the posture like this West Virginia church and say, “We have water here. Would you like to come and taste it?” I think a number of skeptics might be willing to at least give it a taste.
The church as it gathers should obviously be such a place. But the church as it scatters (individuals and families showing and sharing the love of Christ), should also reflect the corporate ethos. And I’m from afar West Virginians open up their homes, inviting all who in need (even friends of friends) to take clean showers and fill up their water jugs.
That’s the kind of church many people want to either connect to or investigate. And that’s the kind which reflects its author Jesus. Upon meeting a skeptical man named Nethaniel who questioned whether anything good could come from Jesus’ hometown, he not only didn’t reject him but welcomed him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47). But before he met Jesus, his friend simply invited him to “come and see.” In other words, I met him, and why don’t you come and see if Jesus is who He says He is?