Thursday, August 5, 2010
Living Water and Broken Cisterns
Notice these sobering words as God commissions Jeremiah to declare His people's guilt on two charges: "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." (Jeremiah 2:13) Water is the source of life.
It is absolutely essential to life! We can exist without food for a time, but we cannot live without water! Water has another function basic to our life. We use it for cleansing, for getting rid of dirt. The Bible uses water as a symbol in both those ways (and a host of others). God as the spring of living water is the source of life, and of cleansing.
In the Old Testament, Almighty God says only He is the source of living water. He tells those who are spiritually thirsty to come to him and drink. Jesus says, "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" (Jn 7:37).
Judah's twin sins were forsaking the true God and worshipping human gods. It's the same for us. Are we making up our own gods, or our own way of worshipping God? Are you looking for your own tailor-made source of spiritual truth?
This is the sin of humanity as a whole. It is true of those who build physical idols and worship them. But it also true of those who say, "well I like to think of God in my own way." Who think they can improve on the God they find in the Bible. That's a mental idol. Even as Christians we can do this. Jeremiah speaks to God's people, not the pagans. God says, "MY people have forsaken me..."
A mental idol is anything that springs from not trusting and obeying Jesus. As Os Guinness points out, "In today's convenient, climate-controlled spiritual world created by the managerial and therapeutic revolutions, nothing is easier than living apart from God . . . Modernity creates the illusion that, when God commanded us not to live by bread alone but by every word that comes from His mouth, He was not aware of the twentieth century. The very success of modernity may undercut the authority and driving power of faith until religion becomes merely religious rhetoric or organizational growth without spiritual reality" (Os Guinness, “Sounding Out the Idols of Church Growth,” http://gospel-culture.org.uk/guinness.htm [accessed 3 Jun 2010)
But Jesus was poured out like water (Ps 22, Jn 19) as an offering for our sins. It's not a matter of building better cisterns for ourselves, but of simply drinking of, and washing in, the spring that God provides. Revelation 22:17: "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." May we never forsake this spring of Living Water and turn to our own broken cisterns!