By David Faust
We serve a God who’s invincible but invisible, deserving of our faith but hard to figure out.
We’re told to love our enemies, but our instincts push us toward revenge. We’re told to live holy lives, but we’re surrounded by temptation. We cling to hope, but natural disasters and random acts of violence create misery and fear.
We try to uphold right and wrong in an atmosphere where the very existence of absolute truth is disputed. We try to build healthy homes and nurture godly children in a society that struggles even to define marriage and family. We preach the uniqueness of Christ in a culture that widely assumes all religions are of equal value—or that faith has no practical relevance at all.
We plant new churches in a nation where population growth outpaces the evangelism rate. We plead for unity in a world that seems irrevocably divided by sectarianism. We give beyond our means to support missions beyond ourselves with dollars beyond our grasp amid an economy beyond recovery. We attempt to communicate an eternally important message in a consumer environment bogged down and fogged over by trivial information and conflicting claims.
Rivers From Within
Jesus commanded his disciples to attempt feats of faith far beyond human capability. “Go into all the world,” he said, and they hadn’t even seen a globe. “Teach all nations,” he said, and they had never heard of Australia, Iceland, or Zimbabwe. “Baptize them, and teach them to obey all things I have commanded you,” he said; but the teaching is hard and the commands are often ignored. It all looks impossible.
How can we bless those who curse us? How can we be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled in a world that often rewards the very opposite of those qualities?
Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty” (and all of us are) “come to me and drink” (and all of us can). “Whoever believes in me, . . . rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37, 38). The Lord not only quenches the longing of a thirsty soul; he turns the believer into a fountain of spiritual vitality. “Rivers” (not just “a river,” but multiple tributaries) of “living water” (on the move like a clear, powerful mountain stream) will flow from within.
John explained, “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39). Today, anyone who wishes can repent and be baptized and “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38), and the Spirit’s presence makes all the difference.
Without the Holy Spirit, life is hard to endure and its problems look impossible to solve. But when the Spirit of the invincible God dwells in us (Romans 8:11), we can tackle the hardships and complexities with a spirit of adventure and hope. With the Spirit’s help we can produce fruit befitting the character of our Creator. With the Spirit’s help we can preach the gospel, love our enemies, exercise our gifts, nurture our families, and fulfill our mission in the world.
If your soul feels dry, drink in the Lord’s living water. And if God asks you to attempt the impossible, remember: You don’t have to do it alone.
1. What impossible-looking task do you face this week?
2. How have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s help in the past?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for November 3, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 Peter 5:8–14
Song of Solomon 8:8–14
Lamentations 4, 5
2 Peter 1:1–11
2 Peter 1:12–21
2 Peter 2:1–9
2 Peter 2:10–16