One of my favorite motifs throughout Scripture to preach on is thirst. The Psalms capture it beautifully. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2). Most notable of all is when Jesus says to the Samarian woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirst again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). We often underestimate the vitality of water because of the wealthy society we live in; we have an abundant supply of water, so it becomes difficult to connect to what Jesus is saying here. So let’s replace water with something we all can relate to: the Internet.
Without Jesus, there is an error 404—we are disconnected from God. We cannot make the connection ourselves unless someone does it for us. God is the one who makes the reconciliation through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). We are spoiled enough in our society that we feel helpless without Internet connection. When that error 404 message appears, or when we have no cell phone service, we freak out. Without Christ, we are disconnected from the Father and are left helpless. This should freak us out!
There are often barriers that cause us to disconnect ourselves from God, and we are on the side of err, whether that be from video games, sexual immorality, or just the busyness of life. Fortunately, Christ is the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8). He is that immovable Rock in whom we can always fall back on. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).
The beauty about this psalm is David is being emphatic with the use of multiple images of strength—rock, fortress, refuge, shield, horn, and stronghold. David wasn’t satisfied with just one metaphorical image; he needed to use multiple metaphors to grasp the magnitude of God’s strength in a way the human mind could fathom. He is סֶלַע (sela, rock)—a solid mass; He is מְצוּדָה (metsudah, fortress)—a fortified defensive structure; He is חסה (hasah, refuge)—a safe shelter; He is מְגֵן (megen, shield)—a defensive frame that blocks attacks; He is קֶרֶן (qeren, horn)—strength itself; and He is מִשְׂגָּב (misagab, stronghold)—a strongly fortified defensive military structure.
Those are a lot of images of God just to portray a seemingly mundane idea of strength. Yet the Hebrew understandings of the words used in their poetic use illustrate an awe-inspiring image of who God is. As rock, He is this solid, tough mass no one can pick up and throw; He is unconquerable. As our fortress, He stands before us as a large defensive structure. As our refuge, we are safe in Him. As our shield, He blocks all spiritual attacks against us. He is our horn—the embodiment of strength itself. And as our stronghold, He is our military defense against the Devil and his schemes.
One of my favorite psalms depicts Him this way: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 125:2). If you look at a map of Israel and locate Jerusalem, you will see it is surrounded by mountains. Mountains! Not hills, but mountains. This is why it was so difficult for King Nebuchadnezzar to siege Judah, particularly its capital Jerusalem; because of those mountains. That is our defense—we are surrounded by the mountainous Lord, except no spiritual army can get past Him to us.
In His judgment against Israel, God describes two types of waters. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). We often use other means to sustain ourselves—pop culture, false religions, sexual identity, etc.—yet the One True Sustainer is Christ the Son of God. Christ is the well from whom we draw our sustenance, not the worldly things that become our idols.
This means we need to spend actual time with Him—time besides the hour or two on Sunday morning. Even the common Wednesday night Bible study coupled with Sunday morning is not enough. Indeed, no amount of time we spend with God is ever enough! To thirst for the Lord is to continually seek after Him and follow Him as our source of sustenance. One glass of water is not enough for a whole week. Likewise, one day—or even two days—at church a week is never enough. Even if we went to church every day, that would still not be enough.
Our connection to Christ should encompass our entire lives. We even have a constant wireless network to Him called prayer; the servers never go down. When we walk out the church doors, our worship and communion with Him does not remain within those doors. If we leave Jesus behind those doors, we disconnect ourselves from Him. Rather, our worship and communion with Him continues as we return home and live out our daily lives in the world—constantly connected to Him through communion of the Word and prayer.
The only solution, then, is to make Christ the center—the cornerstone—of all we do! In all we do, Christ must remain as the heart of the matter. As Paul puts it, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We must not put God on a to-do list. Our relationship with Him is not one where we say, “Have I spent my hour in my devotional today? Yep!” and check it off our list like He’s a chore. No, Christ pervades all things (Colossians 1:13-20) and He must remain the cornerstone of all we do in this life.
In the Old Testament, the Jordan River marked the end of their dry desert wandering and the beginning of their fertile living in the Promised Land. For us spoiled 21st century Christians, that’s like going to a place with no Internet connection and cell phone service, and then returning home with that glorious access to virtually everything on a wireless network. We have grown so accustomed and attached to the Internet that when we are left without it, life seems dry and boring—a wilderness of boredom and nothingness. Granted, life is rich without the Internet, yet when we are reconnected to technology that consumes our attention, suddenly we feel rejuvenated.
Christ was baptized in the Jordan River, through whom we die to our sins and are made alive in Him in our own baptisms (Romans 6:1-14). Christ reconnects us to the Father, whose “river of the water of life” flows from Him and Christ to we who dwell in His holy city (Revelation 22:1-3).
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