Many have asked that question throughout the ages. What am I here for? What is my purpose? As believers in Jesus Christ, we now know the answer: God created us for His purpose. Then mankind rebelled; and sorrow, emptiness, and despair filled every heart to some degree or another. For those of us who have been reconciled to God through the redeeming work and power of Jesus Christ, we are back where we belong: in God’s loving family. Hallelujah!
So, why are we still here!? This world is not our permanent home. We are “just a passin’ through,” as one old-time Gospel song-writer put it. We look for the same City as did Abraham; a City with foundations, whose builder and maker is God. So why did our Lord leave us, for a time, here in this dark, confusing, pain-filled world? I can think of at least two very good reasons: To train us and help us to grow so we can be holy and be made fit for heaven and ready for God’s tremendous and awesome presence; And to be lights and witnesses of His gracious offer of rescue and salvation to others who are just like we once were: lost; in darkness.We are ambassadors of our Precious Mighty King, the Lord Jesus Christ. And He offers citizenship in His Kingdom to whosoever will … through us.
It is of being lights, witnesses, and ambassadors that I write today. Jesus said much about our light; letting it shine for all to see. This is no secret society to which we belong; no hidden message to which we cling. The invitation we give and our witness of its truth are to be public and obvious. He said to take the message, the Good News of His Redemption, to all the people of the world. He speaks of scattering the Word of God like seed, and of watering it; He promises He will make it grow in the hearts of men, women, and children. In the Revelation which He gave to the Apostle John, our Risen Savior, with eyes like blazing fire and feet like bronze, walks among 7 lampstands. He tells John, the 7 lampstands are the churches. The Savior and Head of the churches walks among them. He is in the midst of them. In the midst of us. I find this very encouraging. He knows each church intimately and gives words of encouragement and of correction; of praise and of rebuke. He even warns one church, that if they do not repent and go back to what they first knew, and first loved, their lampstand would be removed. By Him. Their light would go out. They would no longer be representing their Redeemer, their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. How sorrowful!
This brings to mind the vine and branches Jesus spoke of in the Gospel of John, chapter 15. In the precious moments leading to His suffering and death, Jesus taught His disciples about abiding in Him and bearing fruit. He used analogies they could understand and relate to. What is simpler than a vine with branches? The life comes from the roots into the main body of the plant and then out into the branches. Obviously, if you were to cut off a branch, removing it from nutrients and moisture, the branch would dry up and die. No branch is a self-sufficient entity. It needs to draw life from somewhere. For us, believers in Jesus, His church, His people, we draw our life from Him. Without Him everything good in us would dry up and die. All life, hope, and power would be gone. And obviously, a dead branch cannot have fruit on it. A dead branch cannot help anybody.
In a very simple analogy, think of believers in and followers of Jesus as conduits; bringing His Water of Life to a thirsty world. Think of us as a garden hose. The water is not of our making; but it is our job to bring it to those who need it. Just as when Jesus fed thousands of people using a few loaves of bread and a few fish; He multiplied the food, passed it into the hands of His disciples, and they dispersed it to the hungry people. They were His conduits. We are His conduits today. He has chosen to give His message of life and reconciliation with God; through those who have already experienced this profound re-birth. We have been given the amazing privilege of sharing the Bread of Life and the Water of Life with those who desperately need Him.
As I was watering our various plants around the yard, the hose kept kinking up. Every time the hose would bend and get turned on itself, the water would stop flowing. Ugh. This reminds me of the Church, as a whole. We have branches or denominations among us who are turning from the simple message that Christ saves sinners, and bending to the world; they are promoting themselves, or fighting against other believers, so they can comfortably conform to the world’s standards. As simple conduits of God’s Great mercy and grace to a desperately thirsty world, it is heartbreaking to see all the strife. What good are we to God’s Kingdom and to obeying our Master’s Great Commission of spreading His Offer and Invitation of Life; when we are promoting our “distinctives” while ignoring His distinctives? Rather than obsessing over what sets us apart from our redeemed brethren, should we not focus on that which sets all true believers apart from a dying world? Life!!! Life sets us apart! The very Life and Resurrection Power of Jesus is in us! Remember beloved, we are not here to become one with the world. We are here to offer the world union with Christ. There is a huge difference. We do not love the world by joining them in darkness. We love the world by showing them the light of Jesus.
Can you imagine if Peter, John, or Andrew stopped to admire their clothing as Jesus was handing them miraculous food for hungry people? Can you imagine if Philip started triumphing over Thaddeus, because he was “doing it better”? Or what if Bartholomew goaded Thomas about “not really understanding what it was to be hungry”? How silly and ineffective would they have been?! They simply took what was given from the Master’s hands and humbly passed it along.
Let us not turn in on ourselves. Let us not become proud, distracted, or divided. As the shadows deepen and the darkness spreads, let us clothe ourselves with the humble heart of Jesus and be the simple conduits He means for us to be. Let the life and power of Jesus flow through us to those who need Him. Let our lights shine in the darkness; that is, the light of Jesus shining through us. Let the water of life flow freely through us. Let’s ask our Master to remove all the barriers and strife that keep us tied in knots and ineffectual for His Kingdom. It’s not about us, after all. It’s about Him. And it’s about those for whom He died who are not yet safely reconciled to God; who are not yet re-born into His family.
This is one enormously and eternally significant reason why we are still here. Let the Water of Life flow! The world is thirsty!
2 Corinthians 5:11-21