This message was originally shared by Amy Cartwright on June 4, 2017, as guest ministry for Oklahoma Mission Center's Community Space online gathering. Roughly 42 were in attendance from four countries, seven states, and twenty-five devices.
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. - John 7:37-39 (NRSV)
Rivers are life-giving for humans and many other forms of life. We require water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, farming and traveling. One of the greatest predictors of human life and the congregation of communities and civilizations has been the presence of these water ways. While rivers are the bedrock of our very life, these channels of moving water must be respected for their force and the danger they can pose.
When Jesus proclaims that those who believe in him will become as rivers of living water, the image that most readily comes to mind is one of bringing life and sustenance to the world. Because of our faith in Jesus, we are called to share his message of peace and deliverance. We are to be beacons of a life-sustaining faith—one that brings hope, love and a sense of responsibility in the world.
However, We are also called to be aware of the awesome responsibility that comes with this power. A river that overflows its banks is no longer living or life-giving, but a curse. The call to be living waters is one to keep our faith wild and exciting but also to be careful not to overspill our banks into the territory of fundamentalism, judgementalism or using our faith to harm others.
Unlike other sources of groundwater, rivers are constantly moving. This movement allows for travel and perhaps most importantly, helps to keep the water clean and more-fit for consumption than many other forms of fresh water. It is constantly changing, we don’t step in the same river twice (cue Disney music). Likewise, our faith should be in a constant state of movement and change, reaching out to new people, adjusting to new information and a force for movement in our lives.
In John 7:37, we learn that the spirit hadn’t been given to the people until this time. I’ve often wondered what this might mean. Surely these individuals had experienced what I would call the “spirit” before this moment—the feeling that God is present in my life and actions. But Jesus wasn’t calling for us to simply feel God’s presence, he called us to move and to change, to forge new territories of love, compassion, peace and radical grace. To be a follower of Christ is to move forward in this spirit. May we be mindful of the honour and responsibility that comes with being rivers of living waters.
...and for all you Disney fans...
Calgary Spark is a collection of stories told by members and friends of the church alike. Each person's story is helping to shape our community in new ways.