THE HIDDEN SPRING
Jesus taught many things by telling stories that people could relate to
Taking every day objects and events, sharing a story about them, and in this way presenting spiritual truths about the Kingdom and the soon-to-be Church
Mark 4:2a CSB “He taught them many things in parables …”
This meant then that those hearing the stories (parables) would need to think about them and often have to sort out what they meant and what Jesus was wanting to show (reveal to) them
If a person’s heart was open to hearing truth and was willing to respond to what they were hearing then the parables made sense and helped people to understand the Kingdom
If a person’s heart was hard or callous then the truth would be hidden from them and they would simply walk away confused and wondering what the parable was really all about
Matthew 13:13-17 CSB “That is why I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You will listen and listen,
but never understand;
you will look and look,
but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown callous;
their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears, and
understand with their hearts,
and turn back —
and I would heal them.
Blessed are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see but didn’t see them, to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.”
So, let me tell you a parable… THE HIDDEN SPRING
There was once a powerful dictator who ruled his country with an iron will
Every aspect of life was thought through and worked out according to a rational system.
Nothing was left to chance.
The dictator noticed that the water sources around the country were erratic and in some cases dangerous
There were thousands of springs of water, often in the middle of towns and cities
They could be useful, but sometimes they caused floods, sometimes they got polluted, and often they burst out in new places and damaged roads, fields, and houses.
The dictator decided on a sensible, rational policy.
The whole country, or at least every part where there was any suggestions of water, would be paved over with concrete so thick that no spring of water could ever penetrate it
The water that people needed would be brought to them by a complex system of pipes
Furthermore, the dictator decided, he would use the opportunity, while he was at it, to put into the water various chemicals that would make the people healthy
With the dictator controlling the supply, everyone would have what he decided they needed, and there wouldn’t be any more nuisance from unregulated springs.
For many years the plan worked just fine. People got use to their water coming from the new system.
It sometimes tasted a bit strange, and from time to time they would look back wistfully to the bubbling streams and fresh springs they used to enjoy.
Some of the problems that people had formerly blamed on unregulated water hadn’t gone away.
It turned out that the air was just as polluted as the water had sometimes been, but the dictator couldn’t, or didn’t, do much about that.
But mostly the new system seemed efficient.
People praised the dictator for his forward-looking wisdom.
A generation passed — All seemed to be well.
Then, without warning, the springs that had gone on bubbling and sparkling beneath the solid concrete could no longer be contained
In a sudden explosion — a cross between a volcano and an earthquake — they burst through the concrete that people had come to take for granted
Muddy, dirty water shot into the air and rushed through the streets and into houses, shops, and factories
Roads were torn up; whole cities were in chaos
Some people were delighted: at last they could get water again without depending on The System
But the people who ran the official water pipes were at a loss
Suddenly everyone had more than enough water, but it wasn’t always pure and couldn’t be controlled
We are the citizens of that country / kingdom
The dictator is the philosophy — the way of thinking and viewing life — that has shaped our world for the past two centuries — RATIONALISM
A way of thinking that has caused people to be very concerned for material things — getting their sense of value from what they have and what they accumulate
More concerned about current, every day things with little to no thought about the eternal … After all, spiritual issues are simply not rational
A way of life that causes people to be skeptical of anything spiritual and other worldly
The water is what we today call “spirituality,” the hidden spring that bubbles up within the human hearts and human society
Many people today hear the very word “spirituality” like travellers in a desert hearing news of an oasis
This isn’t surprising
The skepticism that we have been taught for the last two hundred years – this rationalism – paved our world with concrete, making people ashamed to admit that they have had profound and powerful “religious” experiences
Where before they would have gone to church, said their prayers, worshipped in this way or that, and understood what they were doing as part of the rest of their every day experience called life
Now that is no longer true … anything about the fresh water – the springs and the streams – is a taboo subject in public … and even in private
The mood of people in general from roughly the 1780s through to the 1990s was very different
We will pipe you — said the prevailing philosophy — the water you need
We will arrange for “religion” to become a small sub-department of ordinary life
It will be quite safe — harmless, in fact — with church life carefully separated off from everything else in the world
Separated from politics, art, sex, economics, or whatever
Those who want it can have enough to keep them going
Those who don’t want their life, and their way of life, disrupted by anything “religious” can enjoy driving along concrete roads, visiting concrete-based shopping malls, living in concrete-floored houses
Living as if the rumour of God had never existed!
We are, after all, in charge of our own fate!
We are captains of our own souls (whatever they may be)!
That is the philosophy which has dominated our culture and our world for 200 years
It is called rationalism – everything has to be rational … and things of the Spirit are not rational
From this point of view, spirituality is a private hobby, an up-market version of daydreaming for those who like that kind of thing
Millions in our world have enjoyed the temporary separation from “religious” interference that this worldview and way of life has brought
But there are others who are aware of the deep subterranean bubbling and yearnings of the water system we can “spirituality,”
People who are no longer willing to deny that the piped in water is no longer enough – no longer satisfying – no longer healthy to drink from
People who want to drink from the endless springs of fresh, uncontrolled springs of water found under the thick concrete
People who have done their best secretly to tap into the fresh streams and springs using the official channels or pipes — the churches — and failed to be refreshed
People who have now become aware that there’s more water available than most churches have let on
People who have become aware of an indefinable thirst — a longing for springs of living, refreshing water that they can bathe in, delight in, and drink to the full from
Now at last it has happened:
The hidden springs have erupted
The concrete foundation has burst open
And life can never be the same again
The official guardians of the old water system — most of whom work naturally enough in the Church — are of course horrified to see the volcano of “spirituality” that has erupted in the past few years
All this “new Age” mysticism – with Tarot cards, crystals, and horoscopes
The militant Sikhs and Muslims and so many others bombing each other with God on their side
The Fundamentalist Christians who have retreated to their fort of legalism and control
The Traditionalists who continue to do what they have always done and are not even aware that the springs have sprung
Surely, say the guardians of the official water system (the church), all this is terribly unhealthy?
Surely it will lead us back to superstition, to the old chaotic, polluted, and irrational water supply?
They (church leaders) are concerned – everything seems so uncertain and there is apparently no clear path forward at this point in time
And that is true – as we now walk by faith and simply trust God that things will work out
Think about it:
Built into every person created in God’s image is a deep spiritual hunger and thirst that will surface in spite of the cement …
In spite of religion
In spite of the health (or decay) of the Church
In spite of secularization
In spite of the privatization of the religious experience (separated from all other aspects of life)
In spite of the separation of religion and spirituality from acceptable every day life –
A God experience or encounter boxed in to a separate compartment and kept as far away from the rest of life as possible
The springs and streams will always break through no matter what …
John 4:13-14 NET “Jesus replied, “Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.”
Isaiah 12:3 ESV “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
John 7:37b-39 NET “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
- The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
So, as I listen to this parable I think the fault lies with those who wanted to pave over the springs with concrete in the first place … most of whom were and are in the official Church
But God will have His way …
The hidden spring of true spirituality – a hunger for an unfiltered, free-flowing spiritual water
A fresh encounter with the Living God
A daily experience of the resurrected Jesus
A touch of His presence and peace as we relate to the Holy Spirit
This inner hunger and thirst is beginning, once again, to break through the thick cement of religion and our way of viewing the world (philosophy and approach to life – rationalism) and although it can bring destruction and uncertainty with it … we must welcome it
You can pour all the cement (religious rules, regulations and rituals) you want … the fresh springs and rivers will bubble up and then destroy the religious structures
You can pour all the cement (the consumerism of today’s world) you want … the fresh springs and rivers will bubble up and then destroy the way life and success in life is viewed
You can attempt to control what the Living Waters are doing … but you will fail
People are beginning, once again, to hunger and thirst and many will leave “religion” to take a drink
You see, the sound of fresh bubbling water is hard to ignore and people are thirsting for more in life … no longer satisfied with what the Church is telling them – showing them
A final warning:
We should expect that in the quest for spiritual life – living water – many people will embrace options that are less than what would actually be best for them
People who have been starved of water for a long time will drink anything — even if it is polluted
People kept without food for long periods will eat anything they can find – from grass to uncooked meat
So we will see many follow a false gospels
2 Corinthians 11:4 NET “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted …”
We will see others believe false christs and false prophets (Mohammad)
Matthew 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
False apostles will arise and lead many astray
2 Corinthians 11:13 NET “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
Not all water is good to drink
Not all water will quench your thirst
But nothing is going to stop the true springs and rivers of living water from breaking through and many will come and drink
Many will hear the call of the Lord:
Isaiah 55:1-3a ““Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come!
Buy and eat!
Come! Buy wine and milk
without money and without cost!
Why pay money for something that will not nourish you?
Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me and eat what is nourishing!
Enjoy fine food!
Pay attention and come to me!
Listen, so you can live!
Matthew 11:28-30 NET “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”
MSG: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Personal closing comments:
- Often religion has been guilty and poured the cement over the living waters to control people
- At times the basic worldview that society has adopted poured the cement and dictated how we are to live
- At times we, as believers, have refused to move forward into our prophetic destiny and missed the Living Waters all together
- Individually, we have allow our past to anchor us and and our religious traditions to cement us in to a limited life
- Concerns over what others will think acts as cement as well
But God is breaking through regardless and everyone will have the opportunity to respond to what His Spirit is doing both in the Church and in the world today.