Monday, October 19, 2015

If you were a river....

Divided we stand, united we fall.  Backwards right?  United we stand, divided we fall....that's the correct order of the phrase, right?  It's the American way, remember?  We are built on unity....sort's really hard to figure out exactly what our country is united on right now.  I'm having a hard time seeing unity, are you?

What is it about unity that we strive so hard to get it, yet at the first hint of disagreement or a difference of opinion it quickly disappears?  We want it until we have it and then look for ways to lose it. It's interesting to me that we are so quick (I am throwing myself in this mix, believe me) to give up and walk away from something or someone at the first drop of strife, without stepping back and trying to see the bigger picture before walking away from someone or something.

Division is not new.  It's not a 21st century problem or a problem that was from the dark ages or even before.  Actually, division was around when Jesus was around and it was caused by Jesus even when he was live and in living color.

Division came immediately after people heard truth from the proverbial horse's mouth.  It wasn't truth that was passed down or told by someone who heard Jesus say it to so and so and so and so told my sister.  No, quite the opposite.  They heard it from Jesus' own lips.  They heard his voice, they saw his face.

During a Jewish feast Jesus stood up and in a loud voice - and loud in this scene means to cry out, shout - picture Jesus shouting as you read this:

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

Everyone within earshot heard these words shouted by Jesus himself.  They didn't have to read about it like you and I do.  They heard those words, with their own ears.

And guess what? Ignoring the words he just shouted, the people argued about who Jesus was.  They argued about who he was and...where he came from.  (Those really important things).

He's a prophet.

He's the Christ.

No, He's not the Christ.  How can he be the Christ?  The scripture (this guy heard Jesus say the scripture part), the scripture says he will not come from Galilee.  This guy comes from Galilee.  The Christ will come from David's line and from Bethlehem.  (I guess the Christmas story hadn't been written yet, even we 21st century folks know that one.  Duh!)

Instead of running to the man shouting that He is the living water and having their spiritual thirst quenched by Jesus, in the flesh, standing there in front of them no less....they argued.

Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.

The schisma was made, the unity they shared just a few minutes ago listening to him speak was quickly torn, not by what Jesus said, no one took the time to reflect on that.  No, the schisma, the tear, the division came because of displacement, a modern term to describe someone who focuses on something else rather than face the uncomfortable feelings of the situation that caused them.

It's much easier to argue about things that are neutral, that have really no consequences (until they do), to avoid the discomfort of the real issue.

This is what has been going on since Jesus walked the planet and millennia before, and is going strong two thousand years since Jesus shouted truth.

(I know if we were there, if we heard his voice, saw his face, touched his hand, we would soak in the words he spoke.  I know we would.  We are just so much better now than those people back then).

Divisions are nothing new.  What happens because of divisions are nothing new either.  Families break up, churches split, countries turn on each other.  It's all natural human behavior, caused by that bloody three letter word - S. I. N.

God is not surprised by the division.  He lived it then, He watches it now.  There's nothing new under the sun.

Or is there?

The early church had to sort out what Jesus did that changed what they had been brought up to do.  No more sacrifices?  Woohoo!  But what about all this religion that is embedded in their DNA? It takes time for habits to die or for new habits to form.

Luther came along, opened a book that had been locked up for over a thousand years from the people who it was meant to be for.  He wrote it in a language people could understand and what happened almost before the last i was dotted and t crossed?  Division!

A tear here, a rip there, a shredding over yonder and we are a house divided even further than before the book was written in a common language.

Yet instead of going to what Jesus said and did, we are still following in the footsteps of those first century folks and arguing about how he said it, what he probably meant, what scripture really says here, not looking to see what Scripture says there....

If we could only rest and reflect and wonder and gaze at the simplicity of his words, shouting down through the ages:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture says, streams of living water will flow from within him.

Imagine if every believer, no matter the size of their faith, reflected on the powerful truth of those few words of Jesus:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture says, streams of living water will flow from within him.

Simple belief.  Childlike trust leads to living water flowing like rivers all over this land.

Imagine what that would look like.

Where would division go?  Washed down stream to the waiting gulf and oceans.

What would we talk about if we weren't divided?  Who else, but the Source of the Living Water.  (This is what He did for me, what has He done for you?  Can you hear the conversations already?)

What would other countries think of a country inhabited by people who lived like they truly believed they were Living water?

Beautiful dream?

Or beautiful possibility...



John 7:38

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