Rev. 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
Here at the very closing verses of the Bible we find this ongoing and continuous invitation to come! The Church and the Holy Spirit are sending out an invitation to come! The invitation is reaching the ears of the needy -- those who are thirsting for the answers to life and they are invited to come. And the water that will quench their thirst is available, if only they will simply come!
Even after all of the plagues and warnings and the threats, there is still an invitation to come. Jesus has declared that he is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end -- and that he is patient and is waiting for his people to respond. What will it take for us to come?
It is interesting to see here that it is the Spirit and the Bride who say come. The Holy Spirit has been at work speaking to the hearts and minds of those who need to come to Christ, but the Spirit works together with the Bride. Who is the Bride? The Church. Therefore the Church has a responsibility to be extending the invitation for those who need to come. It is when the Church and the Holy Spirit work together in harmony that we see people responding to the invitation to come. But how often is that invitation extended these days? In some places it may be frequently, but in others I wonder if the invitation exists at all. Where is the problem -- the Spirit or the Church?
The world around us is searching for answers or solutions to the struggles of life. Often they are hot and thirsty, almost choked by the very existence of sin in their lives. What they need is the refreshing and life-giving water which is found in Christ. But how will they find this water?
A few months ago I was in Nairobi, Kenya and was taken to visit a Youth Club in the midst of a terrible slum. One of the biggest problems for the slum community was water and sanitation. Open sewage literally ran down the middle of the muddy paths that were their streets. In the heart of this slum a group came and built a water house as a ministry. It was a building with water, toilets and showers. It was literally an oasis in the midst of overwhelming need and poverty. Why was this facility so effective? Because it was built in the middle of the community that needed it the most. The water was brought right to those who were thirsting.
How are those who are thirsting supposed to find the water that they so desperately need if it is hidden away behind walls and locked doors in communities where they would feel uncomfortable visiting? For the Bride, the Church to extend her invitation, she must be willing to bring the water to those who are thirsty. We must become the oasis of that eternal water which will forever quench the thirst of our world. We must build our watering houses in the very midst of the driest and neediest places so that they have easy access to the water of life. How else can they come?
Interestingly I'm guessing that there are also some who are living in the slum of Nairobi who have never visited the water house. They know it's there. They know what it can do for them -- but for some reason they've never responded to the invitation to come. As we close out this New Year, if we have ever struggled with the invitation, if we are choking on the dust of our own making, maybe we need to put away our pride and be willing to come and drink of the water that will satisfy every need! The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come!"
Lord, please help me to be faithful in taking your living water to the dry and parched places of my world. Amen.