living water

It has been very dry here, so there was wonder and joy this morning when the thunder sounded and the rain began to fall. Heather and I walked to the fields under a big umbrella. And took off our shoes while we picked tomatoes, letting the mud ooze through our toes.

At times like this, it's easy to thank God for providing the water we need. It's easy for anyone to acknowlege our dependence on a power beyond ourselves. But I'm reminded that Jesus offered us something startlingly greater:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"

Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive... (Jn 7.37-39)
Not just the awareness of a God who provides, but a God who becomes one with us, a Source within us.

This offers a great and unique freedom. I was talking about it yesterday with Lynn (who's hosting Heather this summer). And emphasizing that, unlike every other human organization, God's people do not need an external organizational structure to guide and coordinate them. They do not need human CEOs to determine their goals and methods. The Spirit of God Himself is within them, each of them.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one...

All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Cor 12.4-6,11)
This is what makes the Body of Christ one, not a unified doctrine or administration, but a single, unifying Spirit. And we bear witness to this Spirit by demonstrating a oneness that it not dependent on human headship or structures.

At the conference this past weekend, I was disappointed to hear talk of trying to create new organizational structures to connect people and allow us to work more effectively. As if we are not already connected. As if we can organize ourselves more effectively than the Spirit can (if we will only listen). And I've often heard people talking of new institutional structures and calling them "new wineskins" for the new wine of the Spirit. As if the Spirit ever inhabits institutions. The Spirit is poured into people, never into dead structures but only and always into living persons.

If we feel disconnected or disorganized or in need of direction in our work as Christians, we need to turn to the Guide, the Teacher, the Source of our unity. To listen to the Spirit within us and help each other listen and be led. "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink."