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River of Life, Part 1

• Brenda Salter-McNeil, Greg Boyd

Greg and Brenda delivered a powerful tag-team message: Greg offered a short six point summary of the Biblical vision for reconciliation in the Kingdom of God, followed by Brenda’s inspiring message about the living water that is within us. If we are going to allow rivers of life, or “liquid love,” the whole Gospel to move through us, we need to consider the principles of reconciliation that Brenda lays before us.

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This weekend was a real treat! We had both Greg and Dr. Brenda Salter-McNeil deliver a powerful tag-team message. Greg offered a short six point summary of the Biblical vision for reconciliation in the Kingdom of God. Followed by Brenda’s inspiring message about the living water that is within us.
Greg started in Genesis and ended in Revelation! In the beginning God created humanity as different from the animals, but all human beings are of one kind. This unity is important because it tells us that God sees us as united and desires that to be true in our relationships. Unfortunately, we used our unity against God and so God dispersed us in Gen. 11. The people of Israel were chosen as those who would reunite the world in obedience to God (Is. 49:6; Ps. 22:27). This didn’t work – by the time of the New Testament, it is clear that one of the greatest divisions is between Israel and all others. Jesus takes up the charge of reconciliation and reunites humanity in his own birth, life, death and resurrection (Eph. 2:14-16; Gal. 3:27-28). Once Jesus departed, the Church became the Body of Christ, and the Spirit dwells in us as a guide to us and a witness to the world that reconciliation is still God’s vision for humanity. The vision of this Kingdom is repeated throughout Scripture (Rev. 7:9-10 and Rev. 21:23-26).

Brenda marked the transition with a demonstration of the living water within us all! The Spirit moved powerfully as she ushered us into worship with the song “River of Life.” This was so very fitting as she had us consider the story of Jesus in Samaria meeting the woman at the well. Healing takes place where there is living water, not just for personal refreshment but for relational healing as well. Knowing that we all sense this, Brenda challenged us by asking, “What then must we do?” If we are going to allow “rivers of life,” or “liquid love,” the whole Gospel to move through us, we need to consider the principles of reconciliation that Brenda laid before us. She gave us four of ten principles and promised the remainder when she returns in February. These four will more than occupy us in the mean time!

1. Reconciliation requires a divine mandate. We are not sufficiently motivated on our own. God must, and indeed God has called us to reconciliation with one another. The Bible says that Jesus had to go through Samaria. Jews regularly found ways of avoiding Samaria, so this was not a geographical requirement; instead, this was a divine appointment that God was setting for his Son. Another example in the same context is the story of the Good Samaritan. The traveler who was robbed in that story was robbed because he chose to avoid Samaritans by taking a dangerous mountain pass. Still, the Good Samaritan had compassion for this person and sacrificed for one who hated him. This degree of compassion is inspired and supported by God who wills our reconciliation!

2. Reconciliation requires a real need for people different from us. Reconciliation can’t just be nice—it must be necessary! If we understand ourselves, our God, and life correctly, we know that we need each other. If we don’t sense this need personally, then we have some serious soul searching to do. Jesus died for our reconciliation just as he died for our individual salvation. In fact, these two cannot be separated.
3. Reconciliation requires intentional interaction with diverse people. Sitting by a well in Samaria will insure that you will meet a Samaritan woman sooner or later! Don’t expect others to come to you. Look for the wells in your area and go!

4. Reconciliation requires risk taking. The Samaritan woman, on her way to her well, was not looking to encounter a Jewish man. Jesus, being Jewish and male, represented enormous pain to this woman. Both in terms of the violent history between Jews and Samaritans and in terms of the tragic relationships this woman had with men. Sitting by that well was emotionally and socially risky for Jesus. It might even have become physically risky if things had gone badly.

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Topics: Kingdom of God, Reconciliation


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Focus Scripture:

  • Isaiah 49:6

    he says:
    “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
    to restore the tribes of Jacob
    and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
    I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

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