”And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” [Rev. 22:1-2]
Our life before Christ is like a dry, dusty desert. No oasis's, only hot blazing sand as far as the eye can see. When we come to Christ, an unquenchable foundation of the life-giving water of God bubbles up in the center. It begins to flow, in many cases slowly, bringing life to everything it touches.
It starts out often as a little creek. Sometimes we don’t see its influence in our desert very much. Still the cool, clear water flows turning cactus’ into flowers. If we stop there the little creek will go on, but its influence will be small. If we press into God, becoming disciples indeed and not merely “converts,” the creek will grow and grow until it becomes a mighty River of Life flooding our desert turning the sun-blasted desert into beautiful pasture land. Life will abound. It is the will of God that the River of Life in His Spirit touches and transforms every area of our life.
As creatures abused by sin, we often shrink form the idea of letting the River of Life get too big. We are afraid of loosing control. We are afraid of giving up our desert because we don’t know exactly what the River of Life will do. We desperately cling to our sand. We throw up banks around the River to channel it. We try to limit it to church or religious activities. We love God and are sincere, but we are afraid...afraid to really let the River go. Afraid to abandon ourselves to God in everything...to let His life flow through us unconditionally, unreservedly.
God is gentle. He doesn’t force us. He allows us to limit the River of Life, to keep it as a creek [or even to turn it back into one after we have experienced a River]. But God’s heart is for the mighty River to burst the banks we set for it and flood our lives, turning our desert into a beautiful garden. We settle for an oasis here and there. God wants our entire life to be an enriching garden.
How does this happen? “Not my will but Thine by done.” It happens as we learn of God and deliberately choose His ways over our ways. We do what He requires even when our desire or instinct is to do something else. It is loving those who hurt us - even if they are within our own family. It is giving happily and generously as God directs. It is counting our lives as belonging to God and so nothing is held in reserve from Him. It is the path of discipleship.
Jesus, by the way, did not come to make converts. His goal, and His command to us, was to make disciples. He alone is to be the Master. He will use human instruments, but He is the One we are to follow. We are to imitate His life and have His life, the River of the Spirit, flow through us. This is not an emotional experience, although it may include them, but a daily choosing to live according the Master’s direction.
A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ, one whose whole purpose in life is to be Christlike. Anything else is not truly Christian. Anything else is trying to have God on our terms instead of learning to live on His terms. A disciple’s entire goal is to be like the Master. It is a journey. We will not accomplish it completely in this life. In fact, we may continue to grow in the knowledge and experience of Christ for eternity. But our path in eternity begins with a path of discipleship now.
Most of my readers are Christians. A disciple is a learner. That means we are not perfect, we make mistakes, we make wrong choices, we have to work on developing skills, but we are on a journey to be like Jesus in everything. Examine your own life. Are you a disciple or only a convert? Are you submitted to and committed to becoming like the Master or is “Christianity” only a nice compartment in your life? The answer is between you and the Master alone. Go to Him now, sit at His feet, discover His answer. Let the River of Life flow free.