Empty Bottles

Posted: May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

We all have a bottle of water.

When we have a difficult conversation, we take a sip. When we have to make a decision, we take a sip. When there is a disagreement with someone, we have a good gulp of water.

…And by the end of the week, the bottle is empty.

So many people come to church on Sunday needing to get their bottles filled. The sermon from the preacher, the singing, the Bible readings, the prayers, and the good conversations with other Imagepeople all contribute to filling up the bottle.

We go out after church feeling envigorated, empowered, strengthened. We’re ready for the week to come.

…Or maybe we don’t have that experience. What we get on Sunday doesn’t seem to do it for us. The preacher is boring, the songs are lacking in inspiration, and the people we meet seem to be more interested in themselves than in me. So we give church a miss next time.

Clearly we need to do more to make sure that church can really fill people’s bottles. Worship should be a time when we are brought into the presence of God and experience his grace in all that happens. And we need to do all we can to make sure that happens.

But rather than becoming spiritual consumers whose only goal on Sunday is to get our bottles filled, maybe there’s another way forward.

I reckon there is a place for learning how to re-fill our bottles during the week. When we read the Bible or pray, we are putting some water back into our bottle, when we offer a word of encouragement to someone else, we contribute to re-filling the bottle, when we meet with fellow followers of Jesus and share our encouragement, the bottle gets topped up.

So when we get to church on Sunday we are not so anxious to fill our empty bottle, but we are keen to share some of our full (or nearly full) bottle with the people around us whose bottles are less full than our own.

That leaves the church with a couple of goals: We need to make the sure the filling station is working well for the sake of those who have come with empty bottles, and to top up those who are not so empty; but we also need to help people to find ways to become daily re-fillers.

What are some ways you have been able to re-fill your own bottle, and how have you helped to fill other people’s bottles? Share your thoughts.

  1. Karen says:

    This reminds me of an illustration of the difference between heaven and hell. In hell a group of people sit around a bowl of food. They each have a long spoon that reaches into the bowl but they are starving because their spoons are too long for them to put the food into their mouth. In heaven a group of people sit around a bowl of food. They each have a long spoon that reaches into the bowl but they are healthy because although their spoons are too long for them to put the food into their own mouth they use their spoons to feed each other.
    The bowl of food, the Bread of Life, is constant. Wishing for a shorter spoon will not satisfy me.

  2. Rob Douglas says:

    The problem with the spoon analogy is that it doesn’t allow us to feed ourselves. We have to feed ourselves, and be fed by others, so that we can feed others. I often hear people in churches saying that they want to “be fed”, but in real life the only people who get fed are babies and people in nursing homes. The rest of our lives we learn to feed ourselves so that we can receive the sustenance to help others.

  3. Linda says:

    when we show compassion and love to others we feed both ourselves and the other spiritually. Another lovely post, Rob. I enjoy reading them 🙂

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