Watertight Reservoirs Part 2 of 2

Ancient Israel’s fundamental problem at the time of the Babylonian exile (circa 587 BC) was that they had as a nation put their trust in things that were not trustworthy. Specifically, they were trusting in the military might of political alliances reinforced by a religious belief system that taught them that they were so highly favored by God they could not fail. They were trusting in the two satanically inspired idols of Revelation – Empire and Religion. 

“For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
    the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
    that can hold no water at all!”

(Jeremiah 2:13 NLT)

They forsook the fountain of living water.  Jesus is the fountain of life-giving water. Drink of it and you will never thirst again. They hewed out cracked cisterns. They trusted in militaristic empires. They amalgamated church and state, religion and empire, into a leaky reservoir. 

The new wine cracked the old wineskin. 

God calls us to separate ourselves from Empire and Religion and to trust the living God. To help, God sends prophets and spiritual shepherds:

Jeremiah 3:15 I will give you shepherds after my own heart who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (NRSV)

Knowledge is wisdom – the assimilation of facts and insights that results in perception. Knowledge of God includes insight into what God is like, knowing God’s heart and character. I know who the Prime Minister of France is, but I do not know him in this sense. I know of him but not much about him, and almost nothing of his true inner nature. Conversely, I really know my spouse. 

Understanding includes skill, the proficiency that enables us to apply what we have learned. I relish listening to Yo Yo Ma but I haven’t his cello proficiency. 

When the teaching pastor breaks the bread of life, I am spiritually fed – I gain knowledge and understanding about God and God’s world. If I am open and teachable, it isn’t just intellectual knowledge; I learn who God is; I see God’s character more clearly. As a result, I trust God. Faith is the proficient application of biblical and theological knowledge. 

What does it mean to trust God? What does it mean to put our faith in Christ?

Faith is not the opposite of doubt. Faith is not blindly accepting what some authority tells you. Genuine Christian faith cannot exist without doubt. If a thing is absolutely certain, there is nothing to choose. 

Biblical faith is a covenant word – it means to trust your partner. I trust my spouse. I trust my adult children. I have good solid reasons to trust them – I know them; I know their characters. Biblical faith is trusting in the character, the nature of God because we know God to be loving and trustworthy. 

But, how do we know that? Maybe god is monstrous and cruel; maybe god is disinterested and distant; maybe god is untrustworthy. Perhaps god does not even exist.

Our strongest beliefs combine our reason, our experience, and our emotions. If I rationally psychoanalyze my spouse, I conclude that she is whole and healthy, honest and caring. I have lived with her for over 35 years. My experience tells me she is kind, compassionate, and sensitive. My experience reinforces what my rational analysis concluded. As I spend time with her, I feel emotionally drawn in, attracted to who she is.

If I look at the cosmos rationally, I see abundant evidence of a plan, of meaning, of purpose. Multiple intricate factors are in perfect balance allowing for carbon-based life to evolve. Humans generally and historically search for meaning. Love exists. People sacrifice for the good of others. Beauty abounds. Kindness endures. My experience tells me that there is a God who radically changes lives for the better. My emotions are stirred and I am drawn towards this God. Mind, experience and emotion lead me to a real living God.

Jesus did things only God could do. He changed the molecular structure of water into that of wine. He walked on water, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, cast out demons, and healed the sick – all of which points to Jesus being the embodiment of a kind and good God. He always did what pleased God. He was sinless. 

Jesus said things only God could legitimately say. He claimed to preëxist Abraham who lived two millennia prior. He repeatedly applied the divine name by which God revealed Godself to Moses (I AM) to himself. He said that he and the Father were one. He said no one knows the Father but him and those to whom he reveals God. He said that he had come from heaven and was going back there to prepare a place for his followers. 

Jesus literally, physically, rose from the dead. We know that because the sealed and guarded tomb was empty when they opened it. We know that because the grave cloth was still wound as if around a body. We know he rose again because he appeared to multitudes of people in many different settings over a long period of time. We know he is alive because every one of his followers was transformed and willing to die as a result. We know he rose again because for 2,000 years, lives continue to be transformed.

Therefore, when I examine the evidence, ask all my questions, and express all my doubts, I conclude that Jesus is trustworthy. God is exactly like Jesus. I look at Jesus and see God. And so, I pledge my allegiance to him. I kiss his scepter and submit to his lordship. When I do, I experience love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and light that I’ve never before known.

Jesus calls me to no longer trust in empires with their military might, an economic system with its goods and services, or in civil religion that sounds Christian but is not. My one and only authority is Jesus.

Jesus is the source of living water. Jesus is the water of life. With my trust in him, my life is a watertight reservoir. Jesus pours his life into me. Hopefully, his life and light, his love and compassion, overflow to others. 

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on August 9, 2020, in anabaptist, apologetics, Bible, Bible Teaching, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, Prophecy, The Cross, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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