When I make my way into the kitchen, every morning, to start the day one of the first things I do is to go to the refrigerator. It is there I begin my quest to find the energy to make it through the day by grabbing a nice, cold, refreshing Diet Coke. While some may need the warmth of a cup of coffee to get through the morning, I need the sweet and calorie free taste of a Diet Coke to get things going. It is “Just for the taste of it,” right?”
To be honest, it’s not just in the mornings when I grab a Diet Coke. It seems like I always have a Diet Coke by my side. Come to the office, see me on Sunday mornings before worship, or see me moments before a meeting and chances are I am sipping on a Diet Coke or Diet Dr Pepper. In my mind, I need the caffeine from Diet Coke to get through the day, which ultimately leads me to having more soft drinks than a person should consume in one 24-hour period.
If we were honest with ourselves we all have things that we turn to in order to provide energy or momentum through the day. It could be a morning cup of coffee. It might be a favorite snack in the middle of the day. It might even be a favorite song or album that we listen to through the day. All these things, and many others, we turn to in order to “get us through the day.”
Much like how we turn to things like Diet Coke, coffee, or any of the other things to get us through our days, we also turn to things in order to give meaning and definition to our lives. I am thinking about the things about us or that we seek after that we use to define us or how we see the world. We turn to our careers to give purpose to our lives. We turn to our political ideologies in order to center our views on current events. We even turn to our hobbies or favorite athletic teams in order to give us a sense of accomplishment. All these things we seek out to give meaning to our lives.
None of these things, in of themselves, are bad. It’s good to have a career, an understanding about certain issues, or even hobbies. But, I wonder if we truly get out of these things what we truly desire? Do things provide what we are looking for? All of us seek true meaning for our lives. So, when we seek after these things are they truly leading us to a life that is worth living and a life that is all we could ever ask for?
I don’t think so. At least for me, and I would assume with you as well, when I seek after the prestige of a career or any other good thing I often find myself wanting more. Nothing is ever good enough. Once we have obtained just a taste of what these things can offer we are never satisified. We want more. We end up never finding our thirst for a life worth living fully quenched, because we always have a need for something more. We are never completely filled.
Jesus, I believe, recognizes what I think is a basic human desire for wanting a life worth living and our tendency to seek this life out through the things in front of us. We see this played out in our passage for this Pentecost Sunday from John 7:37-39. He says, “Listen, if you really want this life worth living then stop seeking it from things that will only make you thirst again. Seek this life out from the One who provides living waters for our thirst for true life.” If we really desire a life worth living, Jesus says, then we will seek out the life Jesus offers and desires for us.
It is a word Jesus speaks during the eighth day of the Festival of Tabernacles. This was not the festival connected to the Pentecost celebration, but it was the most anticipated and celebrated of the three festivals – Tabernacles, Weaks (Pentecost), and the Passover – that required Jewish men to travel to Jerusalem to attend. Celebrated in our fall months, the festival would call to mind the wilderness experience of Israel following the Exodus. They would thank God for the provisions of the previous year and pray for God’s provision, especially of rain, for the coming harvest. This would be played out in a ritual where during each day the priests would draw water from the pool of Siloam and pour it at the Temple’s altar. They would do this each day of the festival.
On the last day, the eighth day, the priests would walk around the altar seven times while praying for God to provide water for their crops. This serves as the backdrop for Jesus’ interaction with the crowds that had gathered. Jesus stands up, and its unclear if he waits for the service to end, but he loudly proclaims, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me.” Notice what Jesus says. He says if you’re looking for the promises of God to be fulfilled, of a life of where the water flows out of the Temple, of a life of true hope, then you’re looking in the wrong place if you are focused on the things of this world to fulfill them. Only when we turn to Jesus will we experience the promises of God, of a life worth living, fulfilled.
Jesus is the source of true living water that quenches our thirst for a life worth living. Jesus is the one who provides true meaning, life, and hope to our lives. Jesus is the source of all things. He is life. He is love. He is the one who provides peace and encouragement, because he is the source of all grace and truth. Unlike the water that surrounds the Temple’s altar, Jesus is the true living water that provides nourishment to our souls and meaning to our lives.
This is not the first time Jesus described himself as the source of true living water. In John 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that anyone who comes to Jesus would never thirst again. Anyone who seeks after Jesus, who truly desires God in all things, would never thirst again for true life. That is because they would find in seeking Christ that they would receive the nourishment of Jesus’ life-giving love that provides true hope, joy, peace, and love to our lives. These are the things that define a life worth living.
Nothing else we could ever seek after can ever quench our thirst for true life the way Christ can and desires to. When we seek after the things that try to claim life-giving power over our lives, what we find is that we chase after imitation thirst quenchers. Much like my Diet Coke, these things do not provide quality nourishment or lead to true life. They only provide a momentary sense of life, but leave us wanting more.
Even more we often find ourselves spiritually empty when we seek after things other than Christ’s presence. As a result, there is a void that calls out to us in a way that makes us aware that the things we seek after aren’t really quenching our thirst for true life. When we do not seek after the living water of Christ, anything that we seek after in its place will never fill us up. It will only make us thirst more and make our need of Christ more apparent.
Jesus says that only when we drink of the water he provides will we experience true life. Only when we place our trust in him and seek after him will we experience the water that truly quenches and receive the true gift of the living water that flows in us. That living water is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. On this day that we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s arrival and the birth of the church, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit comes and gives nourishment to our souls and redefines our basic wants, needs, and desires. Through faith in Christ, we receive the nourishment of the Spirit’s love that gives hope and direction to our lives. This nourishment helps us to live into a true life that leads to Christ.
The Spirit comes to connect us to a life that is truly worth living, by point us to our faith in Christ and the Father’s love. The Spirit comes to lead us to being people of hope, joy, peace, love, faithfulness, kindness, purity, holiness, and integrity in all things. The Spirit comes to help us see Jesus in our lives and to claim the life God desires for us, by seeing our entire life redefine by Jesus’ words and hope.
When we cling to Christ, when we seek to drink from the Spirit’s presence, then and only then will we be sources of living water for others. As a result of our seeking after Christ’s living waters, we will be people who can share the waters of Christ with others. For out of the depths of our soul will speak out to others a life that is defined by grace, hope, forgiveness, truth, love, acceptance, joy, and peace. These are the marks of a life that is centered upon the Spirit’s life-giving love and our faith in Christ. These are the marks that flow out of us when our lives are shaped by the living waters of Jesus.
That is the life worth living. The life worth living is to seek after Christ and to allow the life of Christ working in us and through us to be shared in our love towards others. Nothing we could ever seek or desire to define our lives will give us the life that only Jesus can give. Only when we completely give ourselves over to Christ in all things will experience the life that is worth living, a life defined by hope, peace, joy, and love for all and shared with all.
It is only when we trust in Christ and the presence of his Spirit in our lives will we ever find ourselves never thirsting again, but, instead, truly thriving in the ways Jesus desires for us all.