Hunger and Thirst – John 7:37-41

If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.

We Christians in general are filled with passions that enthuse us and drive us to share them with others. I relate to many followers of Jesus Christ, who together represent an surprising array of particular passions that bubble over when the opportunity allows. My heart’s desire really is to listen to those passions, praying that my encouragement will serve to bless those particulars in the most beneficial way.

Meanwhile, on another planet…

In a gathering of believers in my home, I am trying to learn how to give the Holy Spirit room to express Himself; you know…when you assembleeach one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation or a teaching; has a tongue and an interpretation. I Corinthians 14 suggests this was the extent of the early church’s liturgy. Beyond this limited picture, we also know that in these meetings, the secrets of men’s hearts were revealed; they would experience conviction; they would fall on their faces and declare that God was certainly among them. The outcome of these gatherings where the gifts were being expressed through many was the edification of the group as a whole. However, in my home group, I am often taken aback and challenged by the disparate particulars and passions that surface.

disparate: 1) containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements 2) markedly distinct in quality or character.

In our home gathering of 20 or so people, here is a sampler of the particulars that can bubble up: Messianic Christian emphases, a TED talk (having nothing and yet everything to do with Christianity), angels, the latest prophetic word on what God is about to do, foreign missions, the revival that is on the near horizon, the need for signs and wonders, or God and American conservatism. As a facilitator, I just try to keep one eye toward heaven and the other on earth in hopes of reading the currents of what God is doing among us. This is challenging—trying to lean into God, listening for that common divine vibration that needs identified and encouraged. In fact, I am going cross-eyed in my efforts.

I have come, by way of hard knocks, to a firm belief that groups, no matter what their size or mission, are healthy when they have something they can collectively own, something we can call ours. I may be wrong (I am seeking feedback on this), but as a facilitator I am concerned that the disparate nature of our bubbles (for some in the group) is producing more of a sense of “theirs instead of “ours.” As a leader, I have not picked up on our common currentI have even wondered if I am reading crosscurrents. I not sure whether I’m looking at living water or something else. As far as the edification of the group is concerned, is the water still alive if its particulars are alien to others present?

From 1991 to 2013, a part of me died in the local church trying to determine if my particular current held anything in common with that of my co-elders. In that setting with its particular passions, I learned that it is very challenging to have a creative open dialogue that will benefit the whole body when most are simply waiting to share their particular passion. When one person’s passion is alien to another’s, the available options are: 1) promote and endeavor to infect others with your passion; 2) subjugate your passions to the passions of others; 3) abandon your passions; shut them down; go through the motions; just try and survive without bitterness (good luck) in an environment that repeatedly fails to esteem the things you call treasures.

Do you see the dilemma? How do we nurture and honor all the disparate particulars and simultaneously create the hallowed and essential our that makes a group healthy and fosters legitimate community? If I am right, when people sense that a gathering is mostly somebody else’s, they will leave and instinctively seek a setting where there is an our (that includes their passion). As well they should.

As the facilitator, I thought I had detected the common current: it was Christ in us, the hope of glory. I thought, “Voilà! That must be it!” Down below all the disparate particulars, there is Christ, who is our life; Christ alone and Him crucified; Christ who is our sufficiency; Christ Jesus who aspires to be the satisfaction of our soul’s deepest longings. At the very bottom of the well Holy Spirit must be present, revealing to us the Son of God and the Father. The natural expression of this living water must be present tense awe and wonder with God alone. Real living water is flavored with a now joy, a now abiding contentment and rest, all flooding out of God Himself. So, it turns out that its not so much a passion of particulars as it is a passion about a particular person–Jesus Christ.

As it turns out, my particular passion, Jesus + no particular particular, may be the most peculiar and disparate particular of our gathering. As this has dawned on me with some force, I have begun to wonder if I would make a good Catholic or Episcopalian. I find myself longing for liturgy—anything to take the strain off my eyes, which are failing to find a current we can collectively call our own.

I know some of you might be concerned that I have set my sights too high and am setting myself up for more disappointment once again. I just want to share with you that I have a great peace about this because in the end everything will work out because it’s my house and I know I am right.  🙂

In case that was unsatisfactory…

For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in Christ Jesus and finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, He organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. He was supreme in the beginning and He is supreme in the end. From beginning to end, He’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is He, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in Him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of His death, His blood that poured down from the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 MSG)

Father, as we press on to know You, help us to keep smiles on our faces, knowing that You are the head of Your church, that You’re not going to loose a single one of us that the Father has given to You. You are not going to fail to have a Bride that is radiant beyond our grasp. Thank You that where we are the most fragmented, You are holding us together in the site of God, holding us harmless of every offense. If we never see an iota of our particular, may we be individually and collectively content with You alone. Just give us Yourself. Our cups will overflow. Amen.






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