I grew up about 45 minutes from Flint, Michigan. You may have heard about Flint recently in the news. In April of 2014, in order to cut costs, the city began drawing its drinking water from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron.
They failed, however, to treat the corrosive waters of the Flint River with the proper chemicals. As a result, lead leached from pipes and fixtures into the drinking water. Though many residents complained about the water, the local, state and federal governments waited months to respond. On January 5th of this year, the governor of Michigan finally declared a state of emergency in Flint.
Clean-up and treatment efforts are ongoing. Experts still don’t know what long term effects the lead poisoning will have on the residents and especially the children of Flint.
Dirty water is dangerous. It can damage vital organs. It can make you sick. It can even kill you.
God has given us the pure, unadulterated, living water of his Word. The promises of his Word refresh us, comfort us and give us life.
As sinful human beings, though, we tend to muddy the waters. We pollute it by interjecting our own opinions, biases and traditions. We treat God’s Word as if it were a salad bar, picking and choosing what we want to believe. We twist his words to fit our own preconceived ideas.
The waters become contaminated and souls become sick.
Jesus often warned against the dangers of false teachings which spread like leaven. He compared false teachers to wolves in sheep’s clothing. In other words, dirty water is dangerous.
Despite our Savior’s warnings, however, I am noticing a trend in our world today. Many Christians are knowingly drinking polluted water. They are attending churches they know aren’t teaching God’s Word in its truth and purity.
They go because that’s where their spouse attends. They go because it’s a lot closer than their old church. They go because it has programs for their kids, a more charismatic pastor or more convenient service times.
“Don’t worry, pastor,” they tell me. “I know what the Bible says and what I believe. It won’t affect me.” “At least their hearing God’s Word,” their parents tell me. “Dirty water is better than no water at all.”
And there is some truth to that. If I were dying of thirst – if I had to go three days without anything to drink – and you put a glass of water from Flint, Michigan in front of me, I am sure I would drink it. Dirty water is better than no water at all.
For a person dying of spiritual thirst, who doesn’t know Jesus or the forgiveness he won for them, the gospel, even when muddied by false teaching, can save their soul.
But if you have the choice between drinking clean water or polluted water, why would you ever pick the polluted water? Prolonged exposure to dirty water is dangerous. It affects our faith. It hurts our souls. In fact, it can be deadly.
Take Jesus’ warnings seriously. Don’t drink polluted water for the sake of convenience. Expect your church and pastor to be doctrinally pure. If you don’t know what that is, open your Bible. Read it daily. Study. Learn.
Drink deeply from the pure, unadulterated spring of God’s Word.