“I thirst.” The New Testament tells us he said this in order that he may fulfil the Scriptures. Bible scholars say that it is at the moment of accepting the wine-soaked sponge that the 4th Cup of the Passover was drunk (For more on this SUPER interesting concept, click here!). To me, it also reminds me that Jesus was fully human, fully Divine. Whilst there are other passages where his human nature is shown, it is this moment that his most basic human desire for water is explicitly mentioned. For me, this passage is extremely sobering. It reminds me that a part of my human nature is to NEED food and water. It reminds me that no matter how hard I try, I CANNOT overcome my humanness. I must accept this Divinely created humanness.
“Our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.” –M. F. K. Fisher
I thought this was a pertinent phrase said by Fisher in this context. We cannot simply talk about spirituality and about God in isolation. How I read it is that our physical needs (food), psychological needs (security) and our emotional needs (love) are so intertwined that it is impossible to speak of one deeply without also speaking of the others. We cannot simply preach love without first loving the other. We cannot care for the soul of the other without also caring for body. I think sometimes, we get so caught up in the spreading of God’s Word and His Love that we forget to actually care for the person. We forget that the person too has other needs besides his need for God. We cannot explain to the starving man about God’s abundant Grace without giving him some food. We cannot reach out to a struggling parent about God being our strength and our Rock if we do not help her anchor her family. We cannot talk of God’s unconditional Love if we are not first His instruments in loving others.
I think oftentimes, I forget this especially when ministering to others or asking others to serve in Church. I get into this “Jesus bubble” where I distance myself from the needs of the other and only preach about the goodness of the Lord. I do so without acknowledging the situations of the my fellow brother and sister. For me, at least, it seems easier to simply forget about dealing with the other needs and just focus on God. This extends to myself as well! Serving in spite of my tiredness, my unsecured schedule or even when I’m feeling incredibly down. Sometimes, when we’re not aware of our needs and take on things without this self-acknowledgement, we tend to become “idols” for ourselves. We tend to do more harm than actual good. But we still do this so many times. I’ve always questioned why. After a while, I realized that it was because it is messy. I don’t want to look into my own messy human condition, let alone others’! And so what do I do? I look away and hope that it goes away somehow. I crawl back into my “Jesus bubble” and hide because facing all the darkness, hate, injustice, hurts and weaknesses in myself, others and the world seems too big a task for me. It is easier to simply run.
And yet, we were called not live in isolation to the world! We were told to live in the world but remember that we are not of the world! This distinction becomes important because it means that instead of avoiding the mess of human needs and desires, I am called to confront and embrace it, knowing that I am ultimately called to accept these limitations of the world but remember that I am not solely made of these limitations. The key here is not to avoid these limitations on the context that God will handle it. The key here is to accept the flaws and the limitations and yet be aware that the Grace of God will allow us to overcome it in order to grow ever closer in union with Him on this journey of life. That is why I am always humbled whenever I see people serving and ministering to others, who despite being aware of their own limitations continue to serve not because they are perfect and their lives are perfect and they have all their needs fulfilled. They do so because in the grand Venn diagram of things, God encompasses all these three needs. God is the beginning of our humanness in creation and the end of it in our human death. He is the only one who can help us be above our human needs in order to bring glory to Him. But at the same time, we cannot simply run. We must confront the limitations within us and within others first because until we can name it, we cannot seek God’s Grace to tame it.
Let us not be afraid of being hungry and thirsty, of being insecure, of being in lamentation. Let us remember that even in the most desperate of times, we can cry out “I thirst” to our God. Let us remember that just as the soldier gave Jesus the wine to drink on the Cross, we are also called to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters and to lift them up in whatever ways we can. Let us not run away and be afraid of our humanness. Because Christ has already faced that Cross and shown us how to embrace the humanness inside us and to align it to the Divine. He has shown us that we too can be human and not lose sight of God.
© 2018 Christ Centered Conversations/Gregory Adrian Gunawan