So far, we have seen all the ways people strive to fulfill themselves how this only makes us more thirsty. We asked if this meant that we just needed to work harder at being religious so that we could be more fulfilled and we discovered that God is against this method as well. Now let us see what Jesus has to offer that could be so different.
Give Me This Water
The conversation with the woman at the well had been so far about the waters she had been drinking from. It had been about the water that can enter us and take away our thirst. Jesus though, switches the conversation on her in verse 14 so that she asks a question of Him in 15
Is it any wonder then that this woman eagerly asks for the water. Have we not all asked someone or something this question at some point in life: “give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw”? This is what we all want out of life. We want fulfillment without this constant cycle of thirst and drink. We want God to come and inhabit the empty throne He created for Himself in each of us. We want His Kingdom to rule in us.
That I Don’t Want?
But notice as you were reading, that maybe a resistance grows in you. Cause it was certainly growing in me. I want to be fulfilled but I don’t want to be ruled. Even though it doesn’t make sense, I want the water and the spring and all that but I don’t want the source. That would mean that I was no longer in control. But how can there be a spring without a source? Furthermore, if out of you flow rivers of living water but you don’t know the source then will not people be attracted to you instead of God? Is this not the mistake that we often make when we try to be the solution to other people’s problems?
As we saw with Hagar and Sarai, the only product of this mistake is more barrenness for both parties involved. The samaritan had idolatry because he wanted to be his own lord and do whatever he wanted. The Jew had the law and used the law to affirm her exclusive righteousness because she worked hard to keep the law. Both the Jew and the Samaritan were barren and thirsty because they ruled their own lives. Sarai and Hagar were equally barren and thirsty because each did what she considered to be wise. We have to stop being wise with our own wisdom. Stop working and toiling to be your own lord and master. Stop trying to be your own source. Jesus came to give a source that would overflow into eternal life. All we have to do receive Him as our Lord and His Spirit as our Source and we will find a flood breaking out us. Remember that the emptiness in us is too big for any person or people to fill. Only He can fill us. But He is bigger than us and bigger than the space of our heart that He has come to occupy. Therefore, His Kingdom flows out of us into every part of our lives. Out of us flow rivers of living water because we have believed in Him
Our context is established. Jesus says that He has come to give a Spirit. A Spirit that gives life. It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing
So also it is with us. In the absence of living water, all that we attempt to do, even religious worship, is sin. All that is not done out of faith in Jesus Christ is sin
True Religion, True Worship
Broadly we should observe from Jesus’ response that true worship is an outward expression of an inner state (more on this later). We mentioned in a previous paragraph that God was too big to remain just in your heart after you had received Him. We said that He would flow out through you into all that was around you. The word to capture this act of God flowing out through you is worship. You can now begin to see how God inhabits the praises of His people
True worship then is not something we do by our own power. In fact, worship can only be expressed through you when you forsake your self and your power and choose God instead
This can take the shape of a song to Himself but it can also take the shape of you helping an old lady cross the street or the cure for cancer, or good business or painting or walking or eating. In all these cases, worship is the living water that flows out of you. Worship is everything.
Does this mean that I am saying that God exalts Himself through you when you sing? Yes! He inhabits the praises of His people. Who are these praises addressed to and who gives the power to praise? Himself. He inspires and inhabits the praises of His people to Himself. That’s exactly what separates the worship and religion of old from the true religion that Jesus and James talk about. False religion and false worship begins with me and ends with me and maybe I’ll give God some crumbs every now and then. True religion and true worship begins with God, by God and to God. My only role is submission.