Last year for Christmas my wife bought me a Georgia Tech coffee mug. As expected, it has become my favorite cup. Nate, my 2 year old son, has a favorite cup as well. His cup is a “sippy cup” decorated with various characters from the movie Cars. It is made specifically for kids who would rather spill juice than drink it. I do not expect Nate to drink from my cup; neither does he expect ‘Dad’ to drink from his. I have my cup; Nate has his. Two different cups….two different people.
Let’s suppose that I made Nate drink out of my cup. Better yet, let’s imagine that I bought a Georgia Tech cup for each member of my family and demanded that they only drink from it. Would you label me as “Crazy”, “A Fanatic”, “A Nut”?
I agree. Demanding everyone to drink out of the same container is ludicrous. Which is more important? The container, or the contents which the container holds?
When speaking of “new life,” Jesus often used the metaphor of “water.” While conversing with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, Jesus contrasted physical water from spritual water: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John4:13-14).
Too many churches will only pour the living water into something they like or would pick up. Churches are dying on the vine because they won’t trust the gospel to fit and fill containers with handles they don’t like. Only in Jesus Christ did the container and content become one.
Although Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), the containers used to share Him are always changing. Our task is to pour the living water into anything anyone will pick up. This is the point of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.
If the church is going to reach the growing “unchurched” community, then we must be like the Apostle Paul and be willing to present the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ in different ways. By the way, which is more important? The container? Or the contents which the container holds?