Do you want your life to make a difference?
Most people would answer yes. It bothers me that my life does not count for very much. But how can that change? I am not a born leader. I don’t have wealth to support great causes. My formal education is limited and I feel inadequate among those who are highly trained academically. How can a person like me be a blessing to other people? Jesus helps us with that question in our text today.
Jesus was attending one of the great Jewish festivals which lasted several days. He was reluctant to attend this festival for fear that its timing for His ministry was not right. His brothers had urged him to go and tell the people who He was that they could see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears His message and witness His miracles.
When Jesus did arrive, many recognized Him and the tongues began to wag. Some believed He could be the Messiah. Others felt He was a dangerous person who should be watched carefully.
On the last day of the festival, Jesus began to speak. Here is a statement from one of His messages: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Can you imagine the reaction to this word from those who were among the faithful in Judaism? What is He talking about?
Jesus’ use of the word “thirsty” refers to a spiritual thirst which is a symptom that something is lacking in our relationship with God. We do not sense His presence with us.
We have real spiritual needs that are not being met. No matter how many blessings we have, there is something lacking making us restless. We have not experienced that contentment Paul talks about when he says, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content.” The world has offered us many exciting experiences and these activities have quenched our thirst for a while, but then the time comes when they do not satisfy.
Haven’t we all had these times?
Now Jesus says, speaking to you through the Scriptures, I can satisfy that thirst. Turn to Me. Let Me come into your life. Let Me speak to you daily in My inspired Word. What is impossible for you to do in changing your life, I can do. When your thirst is quenched, streams of living waters will flow through you that will touch the lives of others and God will bring blessings to their lives. Your life will count. You will bring blessings to the lives of others that money and education cannot bring.
Yes, we are reborn to be blessings in our society, but before this can happen, God must first change us. How humiliating it is to admit we cannot change ourselves. Because we believe people can change themselves, we place them in difficult situations. The alcoholic is told to stop drinking. The person who has been extremely profane for 60 years is told to clean up his language.
Here is a current example of what we expect a human being to do: On May 13 Bob Knight, one of the most successful basketball coaches in America, was chided by the officials of Indiana University for unbecoming behavior. As a result of this rebuke, Coach Knight made a statement which was printed in newspapers throughout the land. I quote part of this statement: “My temper problem is something I’ve had to deal with for as long as I can remember . . . I’ve always been too confrontational, especially when I know I’m right. I know as well as anybody does, I have to develop a more diplomatic approach. I’m not very good at just forgetting something and going on, and I am truly sorry about that. I am working on it.”
While I do not know this man, I certainly have not appreciated some of his behavior and language. But one has to respect his ability as a winning coach. To me, his statement gives the impression of a person who wants to overcome what at times is an uncontrollable temper. He wants to be a blessing. He has publicly stated he is far more concerned what his players become than wins and losses. The humanists would say, Yes, there is a power within Knight that makes it possible for him to overcome his temper. The Christian, on the basis of our text, would say that Christ is the One who can give him the power and strength to do battle with his temper and change him so that he will be a blessing to his players and those with whom he associates.
Think of your own life. What stands in the way of you being a blessing to others, especially to those who are closest to you? One of my weaknesses is a lack of patience. All too often I display the attitude, come on now, let’s move. It seems to be an impulsive drive within me that has been difficult for those who have lived close to me. My children have seen my impatience all too often. My wife sees how easily my patience can be tested. She was a person who could run circles around me. Today, she moves slowly and does not have the same capacity to get things done that once she did before having a major stroke.
I am fully aware that she is putting forth her greatest effort to do the best she can in spite of physical handicaps, but this knowledge does not keep me from showing impatience toward her. This bothers me and I resolve to be more patient and understanding, but I fall into the same old pattern of behavior. There is not within my being the power or strength that can make me a more patient individual. It is only when I turn to God for help that I begin to experience a more patient attitude. It is then I experience that Jesus’ promise can happen in my life. What He said is true, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
This is Pentecost Sunday, the third great festival of the Church. At Christmas God came to earth. At Easter He was raised to be our Savior and Lord having paid the price for our sins through His sacrificial suffering and death at the cross. At Pentecost we celebrate God coming anew in the person of the Holy Spirit to bless us by bringing us into fellowship with Him and sending us out to be a blessing in our society.