Ministry from a Dry Well
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If we are thirsty, we look for something to drink. If we are hungry, we look for something to eat. If we are tired, we look for some place to take a nap. We know what to do when we have a physical need. We are not always so smart when it comes to that deep, gnawing emptiness that comes with spiritual need.
Perhaps, unlike hunger or thirst or weariness, we think, “going without” spiritually won’t hurt us. Or, we think that a weekly intake on Sunday morning is sufficient—if we get there. According to statistics, only 25% of evangelical Christians read their Bibles daily. A whopping 86% of Canadians never read the Bible. The latter number shouldn’t be all that surprising. But that 75% of Christians don’t think it’s important to be reading the Scriptures regularly should be, not only surprising, but appalling.
Howard Hendricks (1924-2013), one of the 20th Century’s most influential educators recounted that after he became a believer, someone wrote in his Bible these words: “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” Those are frightening words if you apply them to the 75% of evangelical Christians who don’t think the Bible is important enough to devour daily.
Last night we had a training session at our church. The discussion entered around the Great Commission recorded for us in Matthew 28. We talked about why believers don’t evangelize. There are plenty of excuses that can, and were given, for not sharing the Gospel of Christ and for not disciplining those who come to faith. Frankly it never struck me until I read these statistics this morning that perhaps one of the major reasons that disciple-making isn’t being done, or done well, is that we are not disciples ourselves. Is it possible that we know instinctively how hypocritical it is to encourage someone else to live something that we are not living ourselves? Can we teach others what we have not learned? Can we lead others in paths we are not willing to follow?
Jesus said: “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). He wasn’t planning a lemonade stand. He went on to say: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (7:38).
To have the Spirit of God flow from us to bless the lives of those around us, we need to take in, to deal with the spiritual thirst in us that only Jesus can satisfy. We can’t minister to others from a dry well. We don't just come to Him once for salvation. We have to come coming for the spiritual resources we need to live life.
What keeps us away from quenching our spiritual thirst at the well of God’s truth? Well, if the quote that Howard Hendricks had in his Bible is right, the answer is “sin.” Someone last night in our meeting used the expression “valid excuse.” We all can come up with “valid excuses” for why we don’t spend more time with Jesus in His Word. But there is a minor difficulty. An excuse is something that is indefensible, that can’t be justified. For something to be valid it has to be justifiable, defensible. There can be no such thing as a “valid excuse.”
“Ah, we say, “then I will say that I have valid reason for not spending time getting to know Jesus better!” Read that again. Does that really make any sense? The Scriptures tell us, and we know that, “…in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). To deny needing Him every day is like denying our need of sunshine, water, food, rest.
Until we understand now much we need Him personally, and do something about it, we are hardly the best witnesses to proclaim how much others need Him. Our dryness, or the tiny trickle that drips from us, will hardly be impressive as something that will serve to satisfy the longing of a human soul without Christ.