Severe drought has spawned innumerable initiatives for collecting and delivering water to those most acutely impacted. The challenge presented by dusty reservoirs and dry pipes is being addressed by compassionate people unleashing mercy-filled synergy as together with like-minded others they tap the potential of their interpersonal networks. Their initiatives are organic, practical and flexible, and everyone whose heart is moved can participate. Any container will do. For our household, that means that no plastic container (typically bottle) is discarded, but makes its way to a collection point. No fuss, and for each one who gives, according to their means and circumstance.
What an excellent parable of how the living water of the Gospel should reach every community under the sun. A team effort, unlocked and enriched through interpersonal connections of all kinds, with every believer participating according to their own gifts and callings. Simple, fluid, dynamic, cost effective and compassionate; not over-thought, over-planned or over-engineered. This is surely the recipe for the whole Gospel to go to the whole world in our generation. Let’s simply encourage all believers to get on with it, from the heart, and the Holy Spirit will ensure that there is nothing lacking at the end. Energy- and resource-sapping human organisation and control will give way to breathtaking divine choreography. All that’s needed is a paradigm shift in the hearts and minds of the many.
There’s a second lesson here also, at least as profound as the first. Imagine for a moment that you’re one of those delivering water to drought-stricken Smithfield or Aliwal North. The four trucks pull into the dusty urban township and the residents come flocking. They surround the convoy and cheers and whistles fill the dusty air. Despite the spontaneous nature of it all, these are desperate times, and an orderliness soon prevails. There is something for everyone, and offloading and distributing the liquid gold will be done in a jiffy. But suddenly, and most unexpectedly, things take a rather strange turn. Water that has been donated freely for anyone who has need will only be given to those who qualify for it. The selection criteria are all a bit vague, but those in charge of the particular convoy get to decide who qualifies and who doesn’t.
Such a proposition is outrageous. But does it not approximate the preposterous way in which we Christians at times behave. Salvation is a free gift, fully provided by God, for the whosoever will. Yet depending on our particular church affiliation (convoy), the Gospel is all too easily prejudicially dispensed in accordance with our norms. The love of God is for everyone, we say, but by which we can mean everyone who is repentant enough, serious enough, grateful enough, upright enough, or otherwise deserving enough in our eyes. But the truth is that the Gospel is not just for us, or for people like us, or for the people in a church like ours. It is to be equally lavished upon everyone, for it is intended for all. Indiscriminately, unconditionally, and continually. All the more, given that Living Water is never in short supply, no matter how dry and sin-ridden the land!