"Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." - John 4:13-14
Our denomination held our annual convention last week in Louisville Ky. Several things came out of the meeting last week, none the least of which was a question about evangelism and how we effectively reach people for the kingdom.
Personally, I believe that believers will be a lot more effective in reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ if Jesus were really REAL to us. And if our motivation came from Jesus being real to us by way of having a genuine relationship with a LIVING GOD, I think we'd actually spend more time loving people and being the hands and feet of Christ, rather than spending time arguing over style of worship... or worrying about what sins we're against (since God is against all of them)... and start living what we are for: JESUS!
Let's face it. 85% of American churches are dead or dying. And it's our (the believer's) fault! We've spent way too much time talking about all the things that we are against (and have made our ways to the headlines far too many times for our arguments), and trying to change the world's behavior politically, and have forgotten as a people of how to genuinely love people where they are. The Jews of Jesus day were looking for an earthly ruler. If we continue to behave in this fashion as the church and are trying to change the world by the use of political action, are we no better than they?
I am not saying that we shouldn't be involved in the political process. That's a part of our dual citizenship in two kingdoms as believers. We should vote. And if God has called you to run for a political office, you should run. That's not what I am addressing here.
The truth is that lost people aren't going to behave as believers. That's a given. And try as we might, telling them to behave as believers won't make them believe or get them into Heaven. But if we demonstrate genuine love, respect, and consistently show them how Jesus is real to us when the rubber hits the road, we might find that our churches will be full!!! People will be coming out from behind the shadows of the steeples of our churches in droves and will be lining up to get in to hear about our God. Then we'd have more LIVING CHURCHES. Imagine that!
It all starts with the believer's understanding of the Cross... and allowing that to be REAL to us... not just words from the pastor or words from the page... remembering the blood of Calvary, the tremendous pain, the unbelievable gift of life that Jesus gave for you and for me. When we remember what He did at the Cross was not just for all the people for all of time, but that He did it just for you, then we realize that His love is personal. When we become aware of His holiness and come to grips with the fact that our own moral piety (regardless of how "pure" we might think we are) is nothing but filthy rags in His presence, that should make us bow in humility. When we become aware that what He did at the Cross was not just for you, but also for all of the people for all of time, that should make us missional. When we realize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, that should make us unified and purposeful. When we realize His call to us, that should make us want to follow.
When we truly learn to love God, and become genuine followers of Christ, I believe that we will learn to thank Him and to praise Him. And we will learn to worship Him DAILY with a grateful heart. As our love relationship deepens, we will know Him more and more to be
the Lover of our Soul,
the Provider of our needs,
our Protector from Harm,
the Healer of our diseases,
our Best Friend,
our Strength in times of Trouble,
This is by no means an exhaustive list... The deeper we go in love with Him, the longer the list. And the longer the list, the more those things will bubble out of us and will overflow onto those around us.
Remember the story of the woman at the well in John 4? Do you remember what Jesus said to her about the rivers of living water? He said that whoever drinks of His water would have rivers of living water flowing out of their lives. This was certainly true of the woman at the well after she met Jesus. Remember, she went back and told the others all that Jesus said and many began to follow Him. What she had gotten from Jesus was contagious! The entire village began to follow Jesus after they saw what He did for her.
Are you thirsty for Him?? Come and drink! Hungry for Him??? Come and eat!! Be filled up with what God has to offer... Dive in deep.... Learn of Him. Spend time with Him. Go deeper... Submerge your life into a Savior... Get soaking wet from head to toe in the River of Living Water.
Take the plunge. The rest will follow.