Summary: How Christ followers can create thirst for the Water of Life.
Jesus always said interesting things. Consider this famous quote from Matthew 5:13 (NKJV):
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."
He was talking to His followers. Those who follow Jesus are "the salt of the earth".
Salt is perhaps the most common seasoning known to man. But in the days of Jesus, it was even more, it was a preservative. I think that’s the emphasis Jesus is using here. His followers were to have a positive, perserving influence on those around them. There were to be a good influence in society, just as Jesus was.
How is this done? What can Christ followers do to influence society for good?
Well the answer is in the words of Christ prior to His "salt of the earth" statement. The passage of the Bible commonly referred to as "the Beatitudes", a series of "blessed are" statements.
You’ve heard many times that "blessed" in the King James Version of the Bible means "happy". Preachers have often told us how we can be "happy" if we follow these teachings of Jesus. I’m not trying to knock that idea or even oversimplify it. But I want to challenge you to consider this proposition:
What if Jesus was also trying to get us to become a blessing, not just receive a blessing? What if He intended for us to make others happy, and in so doing, we become happy?
Two reasons why I believe this is plausible:
1. What happened before Jesus made the "you are the salt of the earth statement". In Matthew 4:25 the Bible says great crowds of people followed Him. That was because of His teaching, preaching, and healing. (Matthew 4:23 - This is an interesting order, by the way - teaching first, preaching second, healing last.) Then Matthew 5:1 says Jesus saw the crowds. In other words Christ was motivated by people! He was motivated by their needs and as His disciples sat at His feet His address was geared toward meeting the needs of people.
2. What Jesus said after the Beatitudes. He makes two statements to His followers about their position in society. "You are the salt of the earth", and "You are the light of the world". Jesus is teaching them that in order to be "the salt of the earth", they have to practice the Beatitudes.
THERE’S THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION! "What can Christ followers do to influence society for good and thus make people thirst for the Water of Life?"
TEN WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE THIRSTY FOR JESUS:
(This will be quicker than any sermon on the Beatitudes you’ve ever heard.)
1. Make other people feel important. (Matthew 5:3 - "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven".)
Call it humility, call it dependence on God. I call it not being so self-absorbed that you don’t have time for anyone else.
Michael Deaver, who served as served as Assistant to President Ronald Reagan tells this story about Reagan in his book, "A Different Drummer".
"Many people have pondered the secret of Ronald Reagan’s immense success. I’m convinced it’s really very simple: He knew who he was. My first realization of how comfortable Reagan was in his own skin came during the late 60’s. He was in New York to give a speech and wanted to go for a walk. Within 10 minutes, a middle-aged fellow approached us with a beaming smile. "Hey, I know you from television, and you’re the best", he said. "You’re Ray Milland!"
"Without embarrassment, Ronald Reagan obligingly signed an autograph "Ray Milland", and the man walked away happy.
"Why did you do that?" I asked, "You’re the Governor of California. Why didn’t you tell him?"
"Mike", he said softly, "I know who I am. Don’t ever worry about me."
2. Share the hurts of others. (Matthew 5:4 - "Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.")
Jesus didn’t say here that we were only to mourn over our own troubles. The Bible instructs us to "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)
This was clearly Christ’s greatest strategy for winning people to Himself, and it certainly wasn’t a forced or rehearsed attribute.
Think back over your life. Who are the people who mean the most to you? My guess is they are the people who helped you in tough times.
3. Have a mild disposition. (Matthew 5:5 - "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.")
You know this stuff is from God ’cause it sure isn’t what they teach in Harvard Business School!
There’s an awful lot of direct and indirect influence in society that sells the idea of getting ahead by beating the competition. Jesus was a rebel. He bucked the trends of His day. He taught His followers to be meek and mild, not proud and harsh.