Shortly after World War I, Lawrence of Arabia took several of his greatest men to visit Paris. When they were about to leave the grand hotel at which they were staying, Lawrence found his men attempting to pull the faucets out of the wall! Lawrence was confused and asked what the men were doing. The men responded: “If we could bring these faucets back to our desert land, we could have all the water we desire!” These men clearly had an appreciation for water, but they had an unhealthy and illogical appreciation for the means by which it was transferred – the conduit if you will.
Many Christians know they have access to the “water” Christ offers (see John 4), but many of us seem to make a much bigger deal about the conduit(s) through which the water comes. In other words, we tend to worship the faucet! We rave about our church; we gush about our pastor; we are quick to tell what a talented, wonderful worship leader we have. But Jesus – the one who gives the church significance, the one who the pastor and worship leader are there to serve, the cornerstone on which “Christianity” is built – we don’t make nearly as big of a deal about him!
To The Church
Most Christians love and appreciate the local assembly of believers in which God has placed them. Scripturally, they should. In fact, Christ loved the church so much that He died for it! (Ephesians 5:25) But I believe far too many believers have an unhealthy, illogical, and unscriptural appreciation for the church. How? By worshipping it and loving it more than they love Christ. Christians must realize that Jesus is Christ is the water, and the church is only the faucet. The faucet is important, but, without the water, is meaningless.
When you last walked through the front doors of your church, what was your primary purpose? Connecting with friends? Christian fellowship? These can be by-products of church attendance, but neither should be our purpose.
When you were talking to a friend, co-worker, or first-time visitor and explaining how great your church was, did you emphasize the groups, clubs, and activities offered to children? Or did you emphasize Christ? Youth groups are great avenues to reach the next generation; children’s clubs can be used to effectively teach boys and girls about the things of God. But in the list you rattle off when touting what makes your church different or noteworthy, where do spirit-filled worship and Christ-exalting preaching rank? Are you worshipping the faucet?
To Church Leadership
The culture in which we live encourages idolization of athletes, movie stars, singers – well, everyone really. Unintentionally, some church members idolize their pastor and put him in a place that should be reserved only for Jesus Christ. Unfortunately (and I hope unintentionally!), some leaders encourage this unscriptural practice by their words and actions. The Jehovah God of the Bible is a jealous God – one who does not share the glory only he deserves. (Exodus 20:5)
A pastor or staff member placing himself in Christ’s rightful place or a congregant doing so of their own volition is a practice that can only end in disappointment and defeat for all involved. And no matter the cause, we must remember that our ultimate affection should be reserved only for Christ himself. To use the words of John the Baptist in John 3, the pastor and staff should strive to be a “friend of the bridegroom.” Jesus alone is the bridegroom. He is the water; they are but a faucet.
Christian: before you next enter the sanctuary, consciously acknowledge to God why you are there. Spend a few moments in prayer asking the Lord to use the singing, giving, and preaching to reveal himself to you.
Pastor, staff, and Sunday School teacher: before you mount the pulpit or begin that next lesson, make sure you understand who the listeners should be talking about when you finish. Better yet, as you prepare, ask the Lord to reveal exactly how you can emphasize Christ in your lesson or sermon. Get out of the way, and give people the water!