Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Asking the wrong questions

All the books that are popular these days tell us that spirituality grows best in community. Once in a while, the popular books get something right.

This week brought us another opportunity for Home Community, a time when we gather together for the sake of intentionally building community, deepening friendships, and exploring our spiritual lives together. It's been a great year for our Home Community in general, and things seem to keep getting better week by week. We've been enjoying a provocative video series called H20: A Journey of Faith. Each week, we've been having great discussions ranging from the personal to the cultural, from the practical to the theoretical. All are participating, both in the discussions and in the prayers that support and follow the discussions.

Tonight was my turn for a spiritual revelation. I was admitting that I wrestle with some of Jesus' hard-to-pin-down statements like, "whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst" in John 4. What does that mean? What's the practical application? What does that actually look and feel like? How can I experience that? It isn't that I didn't understand the metaphor or appreciate the poetry of Jesus' words, it's that I wanted to try to apply it somehow, to get my arms around it and make it work in my life. That's what we're supposed to do with biblical texts, right?

Sometimes. None other than our own Tim Lewis helped me to get out of the maze of possible metaphorical interpretations and practical applications. Instead, he pointed to the fact that in the same text, Jesus was talking with a woman whose own questions revealed her lack of understanding regarding Jesus' identity. She kept asking the wrong questions, and Jesus kept opening her eyes with successive rhetorical moves until she finally saw him for who He was. And she was never the same again.

Tim helped me to see that I was trying to get the living water thing pinned down so I could count on it, control it, put my finger on it. All the while, Jesus has got His hands on either side of my head, trying to get me to look into His eyes and really get it. He gives the living water. It works on His terms. I can't pin it down or "count on it" the way I can count on the light coming on when I hit the switch. But I can choose to count on Him. That's a much different way of looking at Jesus' words. Thanks, Tim—way to let the Spirit work in community!

1 comment:

James Wood said...

Talking about Spirit-working-stuff, I have been working with our church to purchase and use the H2O videos (we bought them on Friday and on Sunday I got people to agree to host a pilot). Last night my wife and I read John 4 (you should check it out in the Message - Peterson's interpretation is interesting and enlightening).

I did find myself thinking the same thoughts about "living water" - How can I get it? What does it mean? Why do I still feel thirsty at times? Does that mean I'm broken, or I haven't gotten it?

Good job, Tim. Thanks for making me feel stupid . . . er . . . explaining things to me.