In Ezekiel 47, God gave Ezekiel a vision of a stream of water flowing out from the temple and down towards the wilderness. The further the stream flowed, the deeper it got, until it became a river too deep to walk across.
At New Wine in Newark, UK, this last week, Ian Parkinson talked about the river being the power of God, flowing from His temple to the wastelands, where everything was dead and lifeless. Once the river touched this wasteland, a transformation occurred that brought life and abundance and joy.
New Wine Newark: Kingdom Come
We all have wilderness times or areas in our lives that feel dead and barren, but the touch of the power of God can birth hope and life into those places. There are also wilderness areas in our communities…physical places where nothing much good happens, where there is a lot of brokenness, hurt and despair. God’s touch can restore, rebuild and renew lives and families, but the river of His grace and power must flow to those areas.
Question: Are we as Christians carriers of the power source of the God we follow? Do we bring hope and the promise of new life to the hurting people in modern-day wildernesses around us?
An interesting point is that the further away from the temple the stream flowed, the deeper it got. Translate that to today, and it says, the more we move out of the church and turn our focus towards the lost and needy, and reach out to them where they are, the more we will be releasing God’s transformational power. The goal is not to get more and more people into the church…the goal is to get more and more of the church out to the people.
If we stay ‘too close to home’ (ie. Wrapped up in lots of church activities but not impacting the lost of the world) then it’s like we’re sitting on the riverside dipping our toes in the shallow waters that just splash over our feet. But as we reach out to the broken, and spend our lives pursuing them with God’s love, we’ll go deeper and deeper into that river until we reach a point where we have to choose…do I stay where my feet can touch the ground and I have some semblance of control over my life? Or do I let go and plunge in, immersing myself in God’s river and letting Him control and direct my life? Do I trust Him enough to relinquish everything for Him?
How far in am I ready to plunge?
If we believe that Heaven really exists, and that there is no poverty, or pain, or distress for the rest of eternity, then we must recognize that now…this life on earth…is our only chance to reach out to the unlovable, to bind up the broken-hearted, to get our hands messy in messed up lives, and bring them the touch of that river that can transform their realities.
The goal is not just to save a few souls and then get rescued off this earth and taken up to Heaven…the goal is to complete the assignment Jesus gave us to bring Heaven to this earth.
PS If you want to learn more about New Wine, visit http://www.new-wine.org/