Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Dam Church Theory

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "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." ~John 7:37-38

We have been studying the book of John for a long time, and my life and view of Jesus has been radically changed as a result. One of those changes came about from this passage.

Jseus tells us that the Holy Spirit will equip us and lead to overflow living water (Jesus). The streams element of this really got me thinking about the functionality of church. Rivers (I'm using this interchangebly with streams) are these huge systems that carry water downstream to places that need it. Rivers always branch off into streams and tributaries. Over time rivers mold the land they flow through. Hello! The Grand Canyon was formed as the result of the river that runs through it. The objects in the river are also changed... River Stones are smooth and beautiful. Think of the whole life system that exists beneath the surface. Fish, snakes, turtles, plants ... the river maintains life. Water sustains, nourishes, shapes, refreshes, carries life. Rivers always empty into a much bigger significant body of water. They're always a part of something bigger than themselves. What an amazing picture.

Since the Church is not something you go to, and it's something that you are...and if Christ-followers are to have streams of living water flowing out from them...then our churches should be these celebrations of living water flowing. When I think of rivers I think of the big ones - the Nile, the Amazon, the Colorado, the Mississippi. I think of rapids and powerful rushes of water that are uncontrollable. In addition to receiving what's necessary from rivers, we receive joy from rivers. San Marcos and New Braunfels summers are filled with people floating the river. Why? Becasue the river is moving and riding it is fun.

Here's the problem. I think churches are much more like lakes than rivers. Instead of realizing that we have the ultimate source of life that a world desperately needs. Instead of praying that God would flow his living water out of us to the hopeless, helpless, and hurting. We've built dams. We've stopped the flow of the living water. Why? Because we like it. It makes us feel good. In the lakes we swim, we ski, we fish (that's a whole other blog - "fishing" where the fish are...), we lay out, we have a picnic, we spend the day. We think that church is about us. We think that living water is something that Jesus gave us to feel good. Jesus puts the Living Water of His Spirit in us so that we can be a part of letting it flow to others. Look at the little flow of water coming out of this dam. Now look at the river above the dam. We tend to manipulate, control, and rationalize how much water comes out. We open and close the valves at will - it's all up to us how much God we overflow to others. That's not the way Jesus intended for it to play out. When the river flows, it flows wherever it wants, it flows powerfully, and it brings life. Shouldn't the church be more influential because we've earned the respect of our communities with an outpouring of love. Shouldn't we be known for how much we give away and not for how fancy our facilities are? Shouldn't we be helping those who need help? Shouldn't we be out to do something about the fact that our world associates us with the "Christians" on TV. Maybe it's time to follow Christ.

Jesus broke all the rules of the religious. He caused division among the leaders. He brought life to those who didn't have a chance. Maybe when you look at your life, like I've recently done at mine, you find a lake where a river should be. It was never solely for our enjoyment. The irony is there's not greater joy than bringing life. I promise it's a lot more fun to trust God to overflow wherever He decides and not where we decide. Let's make a pact...let's get rid of the "Dam church" and let the river flow.

Thanks for putting up with my ranting ... I'm a little passionate about this one.


Anonymous ashley said...

Bring on the rapids!

Thanks, Jason.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

I'd rather be moving on the river, than wading in the dammed up lake any day. It's more fun!!!!

11:00 AM  
Blogger raj said...

following jesus is difficult for the "dam-ed church" because it is ignorant of what he calls us to do. we are not reading his word!

flowing comes when one know him fully as we go out. otherwise we are more like jellyfish just floating with the church (or tubing down the comal or guadalupe)...can be good if everyone is going the right way...but rarely is everyone going the right way!!

fight biblical ignorance! god will revolutionize our church when we ALL are connected with him.

12:41 PM  

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