ON GETTING THOROUGHLY WET

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Part 2 (continued from Part 1)

          There’s really only one command, and ironically it is impossible for us to obey. He says we must love. We must love God and we must love each other. And every one of us knows we just cannot do it. There’s always something that stands in the way, someone who is unlovable or who has hurt us unforgivably. Something that whispers we are not good enough for God or for this new Life. And so while we long to be drawn into the real life of Jesus’ invitation, we fear we are unable. We haven’t the strength to hoist ourselves up onto the precipice of that lively, lovely moving scene. We fear we will fall struggling into a sea that will swallow us up. Like Philip we resign ourselves to being on the outside of the unfathomable Life of the Father and Son.

But Jesus won’t leave it at that. Just start to love, he urges. Put aside the false security of the one-dimensional life. Give up the old pride of staying dry; let yourself get wet. Like a new swimmer begin by dipping your face into the sea of God’s realm. And as the last of your breath bubbles away you will be surprised by a new source of air; the Father will give you his Spirit, the Counselor, the Spirit of truth who will enable you to live this new life. He will be the spring and source of the love and obedience you need. And heedless of the air you used to depend upon for living, you will draw everything you need from his Spirit. You will be swept off your feet with nothing but his Life to keep you from sinking into the abyss you feared would swallow you.

Philip finally understands. He shows up twice more in the inspired narration of Scripture, each time one stroke deeper in the sea of faith. Jesus has gone to the Father as he said he would, and Philip’s life has changed. We see him chosen as one of seven godly men of the early church who were described as “full of the Spirit and wisdom.[1]”  He has moved from paddling about in the shallows of passivity to active faith-inspired living; initially, he and the other six are entrusted with food distribution for Hebrew widows. Later on, after jealous Jews martyr one of the six, Philip moves on to Samaria to minister in the ghettos. Having dived into deeper waters the Spirit within him urges him further on. He finds himself traveling a desert road impressed upon him as the site of his next adventure. By no coincidence his path intersects an Ethiopian ambassador seeking answers to life’s biggest questions. With Spirit-inspired wisdom Philip unveils the way, the truth and the life for the diplomat who is ready to dive into this new Life too.

“Look, here is water”, interrupts the Ethiopian. “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” he demands. And another new believer is submerged into the Life of God. The story of Philip’s life is as unique as that of the Ethiopian and countless other followers of Christ. Yet each is the same. Each makes a choice of no return that initiates them into the adventure of a lifetime; each surrenders himself in careless abandon to the engulfing Life of God finding himself more and more alive with each stroke in the Great Sea.

The picture of life we thought was all there was has enlarged and exploded into something vaster than we could have imagined. Jesus’ hints to his disciples and to us have begun the eternally unending expansion of our experience within the boundless Life.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” The self-sacrificing work of Jesus on the cross opens the door of the wardrobe, pulls us into the enlivening picture of the Divine One’s Life. There is nothing passive here, no end in sight and no limit to what adventures lie ahead of us. Go ahead. Jump in and get thoroughly wet.


[1] Acts 6:3

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