This morning, I woke up so dehydrated. I drink a ton of water, but there are some mornings that I feel completely depleted of all moisture, as though I might crumble like a piece of dry bread if I move. It’s not the best feeling, but it makes me all the more thankful I can remedy it by taking a sip from the glass beside my bed.
This morning I also noticed another kind of dehydration: one of my soul. I’ve been spending really great daily time with the Lord lately. It’s something that, being completely honest, I’ve struggled with for many months. Yesterday, I got a little lost in the hubbub of the day. The holy hangover got the best of me, I slept through my alarm, had a full day of meetings, and I completely missed an opportunity to spend any quality time with Jesus.
Much like that natural feeling, I felt depleted of spiritual water. I think when you’re in a better place with God, it’s healthy to notice this; almost as a reminder to take our daily “sip.”
My refreshing came from John 17 today. God has really been pressing in on the idea of His love lately. This particular chapter is a monologue of Jesus pleading with God, His Father, to allow believers to understand the love God has for Him and the love He has for God. And that this kind of love would be known in the hearts of believers so that it may be extended to everyone else.
I’m continually disappointed in myself and in so many others who profess to believe in Jesus, because we often allow our own preferences and opinions to override the very clear command to love one another.
After getting a little frustrated, thinking about this disappointment, I was taken back to a pretty peculiar verse. John 17:9 says,
“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”
This completely threw me off guard. Jesus! I thought, why did you just exclude the rest of the world?
I went back and read that verse in context and it falls after Jesus has just said, “I have given them the words that you gave me and they have received the truth that I came from you…”
I started thinking about this concept of Jesus as the source. Earlier, in John 14:12, Jesus reminded me that He said, “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do…”
Stay with me here.
Jesus specifically says he is praying that all believers would understand the love that He and His father continually exchange. It is a love that a person without Jesus cannot truly understand, but it is a love that we (as believers) are commissioned to reflect to the unbeliever. I will go so far as to say that we are to be the extension of what Jesus prays for us, and pray that we will, in turn, show that love to the world.
We are the vessels and Jesus is the living water. He continually pours in, and we (should) continually pour out. When we stop loving people in this world like Jesus did, when we make it our place to judge and criticize and condemn and hate, we are no longer pouring out that living water Jesus has lovingly given us.
Do you know what happens to water when it sits for long periods of time? It gets mucky. It breeds disgusting things. It attracts pests. It is not useful. It smells.
When we don’t extend the same love that Jesus and the Father have for each other and for us, religious dehydration sets in. That is not life bringing. When we (those people claiming to love Jesus) stop loving people like He does, we have no way of being the answer to his prayer in verse 23:
“…that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Christian! Follower of Jesus! Does the world see that kind of love in you? Please hear me. The Church was not built to exclude, it was built to include. We were extended the merciful hand of God’s grace, invited into His home as adopted sons and daughters. We all have sinned and fallen short, but the last thing someone needs shoved in their face is the thing they already probably know. God is very clear about sin. However, can we help people who struggle with sin realize that it is “sin” that they struggle with, but extend love and grace to help them through it? Or will we paint that sin on billboards and then lock our doors and hide when they come looking for someone willing to simply give a sh…
…to simply care?
You, believer, don’t deserve this love that you get. We cannot forget where we came from, where we were when Jesus saved us. As my pastor Perry Noble once stated so well, the ground at the cross is level. Your job is to receive that love and pour it out. Receive and pour it out. Receive and pour it out…regardless of your judgments and opinions.
I am saddened when people who don’t yet believe in Jesus question if they will be welcome in His house. I hear too many people who feel like the church is some exclusive club, built only for the glorification of false perfection. We have got to stop this. Something needs to change. The point is not to offer spiritual bandaids to a person who has a life-threatening ailment. It is not that we hand out some kind of counterfeit love that is too afraid to call something what it is. What I am saying is we just have to do what Jesus asked us to…because we (and I fully include myself in this) still suck at it. The grace He offers is free, available to anyone, and will always initiate a transformation of heart.
So will you help to be that change? Because you’ve got the love.
Stay hydrated. Receive and pour it out.