Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Verse 10 (NIV)
I have a friend who speaks about church as if it were a club that comes together weekly just to do their Christian calisthenic. His point is that we tend to trade in our relationship with God for a social club with good morals.
As pastors, we are always grateful for people who want to support our ministries and programs. But we know it can be tempting for people to equate their church involvement with faith itself. When I ask about their spiritual lives, they might focus on music, programs, or committees in the church without ever describing their actual relationship with God.
When that happens, I am challenged to remind people of the greater gift that Jesus offers. Jesus did not come just to make us busy volunteers or to get us to donate to the church’s ministries. Jesus came to invite us into God’s presence.
Through Jesus, we are brought into a loving relationship with God. And it is in this relationship that we find forgiveness, healing, and purpose.
Belonging to a church is an important part of being a disciple. But in this passage, we are reminded that the purpose of the church isn’t merely to make ourselves busy or to create a comfortable worship service. It’s to enter into the presence of God – to give us the chance to drink the “water welling up to eternal life.”
Father, help me to move beyond church attendance or religious activity to develop a life-giving relationship with you. Amen.