Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time for a re-pipe

When it comes to the church and church ministry, Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end.  Creation is in Him, salvation is in Him, growth is in Him and the goal of sharing His glory is in Him.  To that end, Neil Cole has written a fantastic article about church ministry from a perspective I can really appreciate:  plumbing.
Cole-Slaw: It's the Water that's Important...not the Pipes: "Someone once said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” People need pipes because people need water. We can’t live for more than a few days without water, but people have lived lifetimes without pipes. The power is in the wine, not the wine skins.
For example, meeting in a home rather than a church building is not the solution for the western church. It may be the best conduit for the solution–the longest lasting, greatest volume and cleanest–but it is not the solution.
“If any man is thirsty,
let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”
--John 7:37-38"

As a plumber, I take a lot of pride in the aesthetic quality of my work. Sometimes it downright drives me crazy if things don't look perfectly plumb, straight, and level.  Yet, keeping the pipework looking nice is not why I have to be licensed to practice my trade.  Public health is the ultimate goal, not a picture perfect system behind the sheet rock.  People trust the plumber to make sure that the water that comes into their home is free from contaminants and that the contaminated water is conveyed away from their home in a manner that prevents disease to the household.  The pipework itself could be all jacked up and it wouldn't matter much as long as it did it's job and kept everyone healthy.

Our journey out of organized religion can be compared to a jacked up plumbing system.  It hasn't been pretty.  Looking at it does not make people say "I want that!"  But even though it is not pretty I have never been closer to God than today.  I have never been so aware of His presence before in my life.  As a result, our jacked up life has become an overflowing fountain of Christ for me, my family and many others that come into contact with me.  Talk about using the base things to confound the wise and His power and strength being shown through our weakness.  That is our testimony.

Sometimes a church system looks great and does its job of conveying but the water that comes from the tap is not all Christ.  In  fact it is poisonous and contaminated with man-made particles.  There is a little of the pure water of Christ but it is clouded with foreign objects that are not of Him.  Everyone with their glass under the tap drinks in things that are harmful to them all the while thinking they are being refreshed every week.  When a water system is contaminated it must be completely flushed out and cleansed or it must be removed and replaced.  Today's church needs a re-pipe.

Your church ministry and your life may not be very pretty to look at but it's okay if it is bringing the pure water of Life without the contamination of the flesh.  Our greatest ideas and devices are flesh but Christ is Spirit and Life.  What matters is Christ in you and me.  He is the hope of glory.  It is too easy to be distracted with the form and order of things and forget all about the life giving water and blood of our Lord.  He wants us to drink and be filled, to taste and see His goodness and He wants us to convey His life giving presence to others who need Him.  Often God will remove all of our reasons to boast in ourselves so that others will be satisfied with the water that pours out of fragile jars of clay.  As long as we continue to seek His presence, we will be the perfect water supply system for a lost and dying world.


  1. I like this picture, because all the pipes can do is receive the Heavenly Water. Flushing the contaminated water is the same as dying to self. One thing that we must remember is that any of the contaminated water that remains will contaminate the Good Water, thus none of the contaminated water can be allowed to remain. Great post Bobby.

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