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To All Who Are Thirsty...

The record of scripture contains one of the most challenging, yet thrilling, paradoxes in all of ancient literature- an invitation.

To Whom is the Invitation Given?

Not to the worthy, but to the worthless. Not to great, but the weak. Not to the successful and triumphant, but to the poor, lost, lonely, and, yes, thirsty.

Isaiah 55:1-3

"Come, all you who are thirsty,
 come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
 come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
 without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
 and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
 and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
 listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
 my faithful love promised to David."

This invitation is given to that most unexpected person- you. And me. It breaks all conventions of honor, rank and accomplishment on which our world structures hang. It makes available the essence of true life to the very people who seem most far from it. In fact, there is no mention of those who have worked hard, proven themselves, earned their place, accomplished something or overcome great odds. 

The invited have just one thing in common across the thread of the biblical text- they are thirsty.

Being Thirsty

To be thirsty is both to have a need and to acknowledge that reality. Accepting such an invitation isn't gaining a prize or winning a lottery- it is the full surrender of yourself to the reality of your need and vulnerability of placing yourself at the mercy and resources of the inviter. Being thirsty is the awareness that you are in need, and that the singular answer to that need lays beyond you. It lies, in fact, with the true substance of survival- living water.

John 7:37

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. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."

Who is Inviting You?

The reason this invitation is so powerful is found in its origin. The invitation is extended to each thirsty soul from the heart and mouth of God. In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophetically announces that Yahweh is calling to those who will listen: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters". In the New Testament gospels, Jesus declares, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink". And at the culmination of all things, the scripture gives us the invitation one last time:

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

What is surprising here is not that the Spirit would recite the invitation again, but that this tiny phrase would be included "…and the bride say." But how can that be? How can "the bride" be co-inviter to this gift? In what seems like a misplaced phrase we find a glimpse into the essence of the Christian God- to include His community in the divine work of His invitation. The "bride" in scripture, and especially in Revelation, is the Body of Christ- the church. The Spirit of God is the free gift of the water of life. And by God’s choice, the fountain from which that water flows is His bride, the church.

In the last text of the scripture God stands shoulder to shoulder with redeemed humanity, his bride, and issues the invitation for those who are thirsty to come and find that eternal drink- the water of life.

If you are part of the bride of Christ, God has made you partner with him to invite those who are thirsty to find the fountain and its water- the church and the Spirit of life that fills it and flows through it.

If you are thirsty, there is an invitation- come.  As Jesus said "let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink".

Accepting the Invitation

So how does one respond to this invitation? This is actually quite clear already from the previous texts cited. One must recognize their need, acknowledge their utter powerlessness to meet that need, and then turn to the One who can quench that need with eternal satisfaction. The need in these texts is metaphorically presented as thirst. And that thirst represents the real spiritual condition of the human soul without the Living God.

In the fourth chapter of gospel of John, Jesus has a more in-depth discussion about this exact topic with a woman in first century Samaria when the two of them meet at a local well: 

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?"

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

This conversation has come full circle back to our question. We break at this point simply to see that the woman has come to point of acknowledging her need and asking for the water Jesus has promised. While she doesn't truly understand the deep spiritual truths that this will lead to, her investigation has led her to ask the right question to the right person.

In response, Jesus goes right to the heart of this woman's situation to help her find what she is seeking.

He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."

"I have no husband," she replied.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

"Woman," Jesus replied, "believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth."

The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

Then Jesus declared, "I, the one speaking to you—I am he."

At this point, the woman has been given her first drink from the spring of life. She is told by Jesus himself that he is the promised Messiah. Embedded in her actions is the implicit acknowledgement of her acceptance of that truth and the immediate understanding that both her world and the world had dramatically changed course. The Messiah and Christ was here! We are now in the presence of the living water!  She responds without hesitation.

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?" They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

The woman, changed by her first drink of life, leaves her old water jar (the symbol for getting our needs met our way) and begins to live off of the living water that is now (as Jesus said) bubbling up from within her. She returns to her town and begins to tell others about the spring of living water.

The response of her telling others is immediate- the town's people come to see Jesus for themselves. Their investigation leads them to another milestone understanding. 

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

Every human being has a gnawing thirst. It cannot be satisfied by anything we find in our experience. We try them all- success, power, wealth, accomplishment, excitement, sex, drugs, art, culture, good deeds and even our searches for spiritual and mental understanding and ascent. But each one leaves the dry emptiness of unfulfilled thirst lingering deep in our souls.

In meeting Jesus and accepting his life and words as the Savior of our world, we drink at last from the eternal well. Like the Samaritans who came to him "we have heard for ourselves, and we know." In doing this, we become believers. Once believers, our lives are set on a new course. We don't need the old wells of sustenance. We rely on the Spirit of God to continue to water us, and those waters come powerfully flowing up from each one who has become a fountain of God's love.

Where Do I Find This Water?

What we've seen so far is that Jesus invitation is both the clarification of the issue of our need and answer to it. It is clear that we have one source in Whom is present the water of life. As Jesus said:

...Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink..."

So our need for life-giving water for our souls begins and ends with the person of Jesus who declares "...come to me and drink..."  What this means in practical terms, here and now, is that if you are thirsty for real, life-giving water in your soul, you can turn to Jesus. In hearing his invitation you can respond to him by believing as the Samaritans did- that Jesus is the Savior of the world. When you believe that, you can begin to draw on his life-giving water and the course of your life begins a new trajectory.

One of the clearest springs of the living water of God is to read, as we've been doing, the scriptures for yourself.  You may have been experiencing some of this life-giving water by the scriptures we've been discussing here. Continue to drink in this water. Find a Bible that you can read and drink in to your soul the words of the scripture.

As you do that, you will find that the scriptures will lead you to see that you are part of a community of God. The Bible calls that community the church. It isn't a building, though it often meets in one. It's isn't a denomination, though it sometimes belongs to a group of like communities. It isn't just an organization, though it is often gathered into such a structure. The church, both global and local, is primarily a community. It is a family that lives across locations, cultures, languages and races of the entire scope of humanity. Coming into a relationship with Jesus means you enter as well into the community of God. The two cannot ultimately be separated, as can be seen once again in the final vista of God's word that we quoted earlier:

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Drinking from the fountain of life, means we become part of the "bride of Christ". It means that we stand with the Spirit and invite people to both drink from the water of life and join in the community of God.

Are you thirsty? Jesus is the living water you are looking for. In finding Him, find and engage in a local community of God where you can stand shoulder to shoulder with both the Spirit and the people and call others in with a warm invitation- "Come!"

If you are searching, thirsty, have questions or would like to just discuss more of these kind of topics, you can reach me directly at:

http://www.kimgentes.com/contact-us/

If you happen to be living in the Phoenix metro area and would like to connect and meet with a local community of people who also have found the living water in the person of Jesus, we'd like to welcome you out to a small group where we gather weekly:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/gentesgroup/

 

Drinking from the well,

Kim Gentes

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