Of Water Bottles and Wineskins

In my younger years I climbed mountains. Whenever the weather cooperated, I could be found crossing a glacier, dodging crevasses, or inching up ice and rock toward a summit in the Cascade Range or in the Olympic mountains.

One of the challenges of climbing is finding water. Climbers melt snow or ice on small stoves to produce the water necessary to climb. In the early days I carried cheap plastic bottles to hold my water supply. The plastic gave the water a terrible taste, but my need for water superceded the luxury of good flavor. One day a fellow climber offered me a drink from his bottle. As I drank, I realized there was no bad taste! When I asked my friend how he kept his water pure-tasting, he told me he only purchased bottles made by a company called Nalgene
Ò. These were expensive bottles: The cost was more than double what I paid for my cheap, plastic-tasting bottles, but there was no bad after-taste! Incredible! The water that filled our bottles was the same, but the difference in taste was amazing.

I was musing as I often do, about the tension between what we call Institutional Church and Emerging Church.

Those of us who are “Post IC” Christians often find our motives for leaving the existing church and even our very faith called into question by IC folks – and especially their leaders.

One argument I’ve heard is this: “Of course the church has problems. The church will always have problems, but if the Holy Spirit is here, why do you have problems with the church?”

And I was musing. And it occurred to me in the form of a question: “Does it matter what container     holds water, so long as the water inside is pure?” Before you quickly agree that it doesn’t matter, remember the story about cheap bottles and expensive Nalgene
Ò
containers and consider this: If the container is dirty, or if it is made of materials that include PCBs or other harmful substances that would taint or give a bad taste or even poison the water, does the container matter?

Perhaps if we’re willing to spend a little more, we can find a container that will allow people to Taste and See that the Lord is good!

In His Grace,

Greg

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