Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty


Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

Jesus, through His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, began a new community; A fellowship of diverse people with a common Lord and goal, called the church.

But when you hear the word "church," what comes to your mind?

  • Do you think of stained glass windows and steeples or a re-furbished warehouse?
  • Do you hear organ music or rock and roll?
  • Do you see the Archbishop of Canterbury or Billy Graham?

There are a lot of different pictures that come to mind for each of us.

For some size matters – It has to be a house church or a mega church. Others think the secret is in the style of ministry, from traditional to contemporary.

No matter how you view it, every church community will be messy, because it is filled with imperfect people imperfectly following Jesus.

The statement, “The church would be a perfect place if there weren't any people in it”, is certainly true. People like you and me are the problem.

Yes, life is messy. Church is messy. Faith is messy. But let's get over it and get on with helping people experience God's grace. People may be the problem, but they can also be the solution.

Paul describes the all-encompassing, radical counterculture of the church of God, the called-out ones who place their faith in Jesus, like this: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:28)

In the church, there is no place for prejudice between rich and poor, black and white, educated and uneducated, clean and dirty, male and female - We are all united in Christ!

The church is to be a place where the social stigmas that divide us in our culture fade. It is to be a place where hope and healing are experienced, where grace flows freely and new life is found, a place where people belong.

This is God's idea of the new community called out to serve Christ and impact the world.

Jesus' number one emotional response mentioned in the Gospels was compassion.

This is astounding when we consider that Jesus was sinless but was constantly surrounded by sin and sinful people. Sin violently opposed His character. Everywhere He turned, He saw the effects of injustice and hate. It would have been easy for Jesus to blast people for their mistakes. He had more right than anyone to take a political and moral stand and publicly attack individuals.

Yet we read that when Jesus ‘…saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’. (Matthew 9:36)

Jesus saw people as sheep that had been bruised, beaten, and thrown to and fro. Rather than being filled with disdain, He was filled with love.

In this, Jesus stands as the model for what a spiritual life looks like. He remained approachable to outsiders and the hurting. His life reveals that the more spiritually mature I am, the more approachable I am to people who feel far from God. As spiritual maturity increases, approachability increases.

It is a sad indictment that many outside the faith don't feel like they can approach Christians or church. In Jesus' day, some of the least approachable people were the religious leaders. They reeked of self-righteousness and judgment. Yet Jesus' life should give us pause to ask ourselves:

  • Am I truly approachable to all kinds of people?
  • Is our church open to all kinds of people?
  • Do I have the compassion of Jesus for those who are hurting or disillusioned?
  • Does our church value compassion?
  • Is our compassion evident to others?

Our church is far from perfect, and we have plenty of room to improve in this area. I pray as we reflect on these questions, that we'll move toward being a part of the solution as we share God's uncensored grace in an uncompromising way. That we will create an environment where people feel they belong and can experience the life-changing message of Jesus.

I can hear you say, “Accept the unacceptable, love the un-loveable, and forgive the unforgivable? What do you want, for us to be more like Jesus or something”? That’s exactly what church should be like.

Have a good week being the church and displaying the love of Jesus,

Pastor Barry

28 June 2009

Back to top