“…Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17, NIV).
Three words stand out to me – WISHES. FREE. GIFT.
This tells me that the everlasting water of life, that is in Christ, is free and will be given to anyone who wants it.
There’s nothing on our part other than wanting and accepting His gift. Christ does the leg-work.
This leads me to another thought. A thought that I’ve been struggling with for awhile.
How should we treat people in church? Do we give reproach about lifestyle choices that may be wrong? I think we’ve all been on both sides of this and it’s hard sometimes to separate accountability from judging. But now, I think I’ve found my answer. This may seem unlinked to the topic of “the free gift of life,” but it’s not.
When Jesus was on earth, how did He relate to others, especially “sinners”?
Looking through the accounts of Jesus, what I’ve found the theme to be is this: Someone asks to be healed, and Christ heals them. Seeing every single flaw in every single person, he could have pointed it out. But He didn’t. Also, I have yet to see an example of Christ’s pressuring anyone to change their ways. He didn’t say to the Samaritan woman, “Give up your adultery, and THEN follow me.” He didn’t tell Zacheous,”Say you’re sorry, and THEN I’ll come to your house today.” First, Christ loved them. And for the first time, they experienced the everlasting water. They couldn’t help but want more, which led to their hearts being healed. In some cases, such as the story of Mary Magdelene, she even went back to her old ways and was forgiven multiple times.
So it’s not about perfection, either. It’s about the fact that no matter where we are, He is there for us. Unconditional love is what changes lives.
What this tells me
There isn’t an entrance exam to be a part of the church. There should not be a “cleansing.” Only by our love toward others, that is of Christ, can people be changed. The Law condemns and Christ came to save us from the Law.
Personal issues, jewelry, clothing, food, bad attitudes, and even the finger pointers. We all need to be loved. And who’s to say what is or isn’t sin? Through a personal relationship, that’s up to that person and Christ to figure it out. It’s not our duty to inform. If they ask, that’s different.
Something I’ve had a hard time with is people pointing fingers of judgment at me or others. I get upset and end up pointing right back at them. So basically, I end up doing the exact same thing that I hate them doing. Ever experienced that in a similar way? Love is impossible to share without Christ. We need Him more than we can imagine.
When people come into our church, there are two paths we can lead them to:
1. To show them the unconditional love of Christ and be healed, OR
2.We show our sinful condemning nature, and they fall in line. They never see Christ’s love, and in turn, never learn how to show it to anyone else either.
I think who we are will attract the kind of hearts that will fill our pews.
The gift of Christ’s love is to be given freely. Today let’s make it a point to be a well of Christ’s love. Because when we are, those who are thirsty will ask, “I am parched, how can I have what you have?” And we will be ready to share.