And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:5-7)
Overcoming is a recurring theme in Revelation. Who comes to mind when you think of overcoming? How does one go about overcoming? What is it specifically we are to overcome? When I served as an elder in a local church, these questions and a hundred more, haunted me. As one entrusted with the spiritual health of others, finding the answers to these questions seemed important. However, I eventually discovered the limited relevance of question-askers inside the local church.
Admittedly, some questions have a dark side, masking unbelief and evading truth, questions such as: “Who is my neighbor?” or “How shall I know that these things shall be?” But there are also honest questions, which come from thirsty souls. Some are on a heart-quest for reality and truth, which requires them to peer beneath things. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Chuck Swindoll’s encouragement to those challenging the sacrosanct and the status quo in Insight for Today. (Use his search tool and look up; “The Problem With Progress,” Parts 1 & 2.) You will appreciate this if you are one inclined to turn over stones.
Our local church was shrinking along with most churches in America. Why? “Why” is a pry bar word, and I suspect the absence of those anticipated harvests with their 30-60-90 fold returns may be related to our aversion to it. Jesus is the most captivating personality in the universe, yet church in its traditional form is repelling people. What if leaders were to get out the pry bar and look beneath the definitions, the traditions, the doctrines, and the experiences and see if Jesus somehow got left out?
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them. (Revelation 21:3)
We are now the tabernacle of God. Christ is in us. Christ is now our very life. This is the greatest mystery of all. This was the big stone the prophets were trying to pry up in the Old Testament: Christ in us—the hope of glory. Living with Christ as Lord in our hearts inevitably plays out as an intimate relationship between God and man. When Jesus eventually trumps religion, a bright light, previously unseen, will shine from the Church. In Christ, we hold this bright day in trust.
Because I have seen God pry things up in my own life, unearthing the spring, I project he could do this on a larger scale. After all, I’m made of the same stuff as my brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps I am in error, but I am assuming that it his intention that the well within each of us be unearthed. I write to assist other thirsty hearts. I pray my story would encourage others to make sure Jesus is not being lost in the serious business of a religious life. I’m evidence it can happen. We will know when the well is open and running because, flowing from our innermost beings will be a river of life that washes our consciences clean of guilt and shame. This is overcoming. This life of freedom flows from “the spring of the water of life,” which is Jesus, “without cost,” affirming our identities as His daughters and Sons.
Father, let us not fail to see that it is in you and you alone that all things become new. Even if your prying exposes us where we are false, strengthen us to persevere, knowing the sorrow of discipline is but for a moment. May our hearts be liberated from any old things preventing the Spring of Life from overflowing our vessels. May our hearts see they are the created objects of your affection and that you will conclude the matters which you have begun. Make all things new Lord, especially us! Amen.