I picked up a book yesterday that has been gathering dust on the bookshelf. A friend gave it to me a couple of years ago, but I never really got started on it. I saw the title yesterday and decided that it was time to dust it off and dive in. The book is titled The Making of the New Spirituality by James Herrick. I am not sure where this book will lead me, but what I have read so far is both challenging and disturbing. Herrick contends that there has been a monumental shift away from historical Judeo-Christian faith toward, what he calls, the New Synthesis. He describes it as the evolution of human spirituality. People are moving away from the clear truth of the Gospel toward an eclectic, patchwork of loosely defined spirituality. This New Synthesis is not a unified movement, but a collection of efforts to rediscover ancient forms of worship and to discover and/or create new forms of worship. The concept of God has been broadened, expanded and even multiplied. Yahweh, the God of the Bible is passé. The quest now is to discover the god within each of us.
Our small group began a study in the book of Jeremiah this week. What we read in the first two chapters of Jeremiah eerily resonates with what I read in the introduction to the above mentioned book. God commissioned Jeremiah to confront the people of Israel with their syncretistic approach to spirituality. They claimed to still believe in Yahweh, but they added the pagan gods of Canaan for good measure. Ironically, the people of Israel didn’t see this as a problem, but God did. God summarized what they were doing with a graphic illustration. "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13
For a people who live in an arid land, a spring of water is gold. A cistern dug in the ground to catch rain water is a poor substitute. God offered them fresh, abundant, living water. Instead they chose to make their own way; to dig spiritual cisterns that cannot satisfy their needs. The sins of ancient Israel are being repeated by our modern, scientific world. Many people continue to hold loosely onto faith in the Living God, while crafting their spiritual cistern from the buffet of religious options being promoted today. On the surface it seems like the New Synthesis is winning the day. Don’t be fooled. God has not given up on His world.
This Sunday I will be preaching on the story about Moses meeting God at the burning bush, found in Exodus 3. When Moses pressed God to reveal His true nature to him, God identified Himself as Yahweh, the “I Am”. God’s message is clear. He is the God who is always contemporary, the God who is always present, the God who is always relevant. Moses needed to understand that, and so do we.
The spiritual battle for the souls of people has been brought to the forefront. No longer is it hidden in the shadows. Satan is making a frontal attack on God’s sovereignty. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 that we are engaged in a spiritual battle that is often beyond our comprehension. Therefore, we need to equip ourselves to fight this battle in the power of God.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13
Jesus offers us living water that can truly satisfy our souls. The world offers us broken cisterns that can offer only temporary relief from our spiritual thirst.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."