I love soothing Sunday moments. A quiet time of respite for the soul. This Sunday brought a welcome break from the darkness that I have encountered in the headlines this week.
There was a baptism at church and the words spoken by the guy who got baptised moved me deeply. His wife’s faithful witness over the years in their marriage and the friendship that had developed with some close Christian friends led him to accept Jesus as Lord. That’s a snapshot of one of the beautiful ways that God transforms us from the inside out. The dip in the baptism pool looked refreshing on a humid day like today!
I actually wore a dress – that’s front page news. In this weather, I am inclined to be still and sit somewhere cool. The heat kind of forces me to stop what I’m doing or I get flustered!
The heat reminds me that I need shade – protection from the sun’s scorching rays to stop me from getting burnt. This is a reminder to me that God provides shade and shelter from the struggles of this life – some that are intense like a scorching sun.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night. Psalm 121:6
The heat reminds me that I need water – I develop a thirst and seek water to quench it. There is nothing quite like a cold beverage on a hot summer’s day. However, I will be thirsty again and will look to satisfy that feeling with more water.
‘…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ John 4:14
‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.’ John 7:37
Jesus says that if I drink the water that he provides I will never be thirsty again. I’m kind of thirsty right now and I’m sure I’ll be thirsty again… What does this mean?
He gives an open, inclusive invitation to all people to come to him and he gives living water.
John Piper, an American preacher helps to explain thirsting. He says:
‘It seems to me that there are three wonderful things implied in the words “if anyone thirst.” First is that the gift of the water is free. The condition you must meet is need. “If anyone thirst.” That’s the condition. And the action you must take is to drink. Receive the gift. There is no thought here of earning or meriting. Anyone. Anyone who knows his own thirst is invited.
Second, the human soul has thirst. We know he is not talking about physical thirst. That’s clear. But what he is saying is that the soul has something like physical thirst. When you go without water your body gets thirsty. And the soul, when it goes without God, gets thirsty. Your body was made to live on water. Your soul was made to live on God.
This is the most important thing to know about yourself. You were made to live on God. You have a soul, a spirit. There is a you that is more than a body. And that you, if it does not drink from the greatness and wisdom and power and goodness and justice and holiness and love of God, will die of thirst.
Third, implied in the word “thirst” is that what Jesus offers is satisfying. The aim of all theology, all study, all biblical learning, all preaching it to spread the satisfying banquet for you to eat with joy, and to protect the kitchen from poison. The aim of cooking is eating. The aim of digging wells and clearing springs is drinking. Everything Jesus came to do and teach is aimed at providing the soul with food and drink that satisfy forever.’
The brightness in the sun reminds me that I am called to be a light in this dark world – a world that is often frosty and unloving. As a Christian, I have a hope and message of good news that I can’t keep to myself. It’s good news for everyone – it addresses so much about why we’re here, what’s the point of life, hope in the suffering world we find ourselves in etc.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Remember about the inclusiveness I mentioned earlier? The message that Jesus spoke was and is for all people. All are welcome to accept the gift of life he offers freely. Life everlasting. His arms outstretched on the cross remind me of his open invitation to accept his love poured out for us. There is nothing we can do to earn his love – all we can do is receive his grace.
Do you long for an end to all the suffering and madness that the news keeps throwing at us daily? Do you want to see justice? If there is no God why do we all agree that this is evil whilst something else is good? Where does the moral compass come from? There must be more than this. God, if you are really there show yourself!
Jesus – Light of the World
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
C.S. Lewis once said: ‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’
We desperately want a superhero, dare I say, a saviour, to rescue our world from the shootings, the terrorism, the murders, the disease, the strife, the anger, the abuse and every other perversion and disaster we can think of. However, we don’t like the thought of our own sin to be brought into the light. We don’t even like the thought that we are sinful. The thought that we ourselves need saving when there are so many terrible people committing worse things out there seems kind of hard to accept. Yet, Jesus wants us to see that the whole of our world is in the darkness without Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
What did Jesus do and why does it matter?
God has paid the price for the sins of the world. He was a sinless sacrifice, the Son of God who willingly took the suffering of the world upon himself. No other god or ideology has ever done anything like that. That’s not all though. The grave and death couldn’t hold him. Three days later, the stone was rolled from the tomb and Jesus was alive, seen by eyewitnesses for 40 days after that. He is alive! The hope we have is in the risen Lord – who suffered, died and rose again for you and me. Jesus is the Saviour of the world and there will be an end to all this chaos we keep seeing in the news.
Have you thought that maybe God is waiting for you to confess your sin, the stuff hidden in your heart that has broken you, so that he can restore you and bring you into the light of life that is found in him? He is waiting for you, friend. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your saviour, then you are still living in darkness. Like C.S. Lewis says, through Christ we can see everything else – he gives light and life to all things. The light shines into the darkness of this world and the days are numbered where evil will finally be silenced. The devil knows his time is short.
We all have a choice to make. There will be a day when there will be no more evil, pain or suffering. But do we trust Jesus and his promise that he will return and bring justice? Or do we choose a life away from the light of the world and continue on a path with no real, lasting life or hope?