Thought for the Day by Peter Hemming (St Chad’s)
We all love rules! We all want to be ‘right with God.’
We all hope rules will put us ‘right with God.’ “If we say and do all the right things, God will be pleased and do just as we ask Him!” Er, No: as today’s readings in Jeremiah 11 vv 1 – 17 and John 7 vv 37 – 52 illustrate.
These days, we are living under a system of rules: the government depends on our obeying them.
Stay home! Protect the NHS! Don’t go near others! No hugging! No meeting inside! ………
The Jews, it seems, loved rules too. They had the ‘law’ written down or at least recorded, accurately. They knew exactly what God expected of them – and they did just that. Jeremiah was clearly told to ‘tell the people to keep to the covenant’ – the agreement that God had set with them.
It was, however, no good just doing the right things. Legalism wouldn’t work. There had to be a wholehearted dedication to God – alone. They could not also keep burning incense to Baal (Jer.11:17).
Wholehearted dedication to God was needed.
I wonder, are we a bit choosy in our faith: putting our trust in church based or worldly schemes and then God?
We are all thirsty – for what we should be doing to ‘get things right with God’.
This is the end of the account of Jesus in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7). He would have witnessed the pouring out of a small quantity of water, by the base of the main Altar in the Temple. This was to illustrate the promise in Ezekiel 47, where a little trickle of water would become a great river to support all life – providing drinking water for all Creation and ‘other Nations’.
Doing things that illustrate promises from the past may be helpful to some, but contrast this with Jesus’ opening words here: ‘If anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink.’ (my emphasis).
Answers to the problems we face, the future, financial or economic, health or welfare, are not necessarily found by looking back, or to the world, or to church-based schemes but in Jesus, himself. The Streams of Living Water promised in these words, John reckons were a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost. That was certainly not an ‘expected event’. There is nothing predictable about the work of the Holy Spirit – or for that matter of Jesus’ teaching!
Maybe we need to be far more open to the speaking and calling of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
As we face all the challenges that the future will bring, do we need to look for unexpected solutions?