Last summer I had a chance to serve with a mission team on a trip to Guatemala. Having never been out of the country for anything other than personal vacations, it was a learning experience to stay the least. One of the greatest opportunities that I had was to help bring water filters to people that had no real access to clean water. The lack of clean water creates a health crisis and without clean water it’s hard to focus on doing other things well.
Having received a brief training on how to install the water filters I had the opportunity to help place new water filters in the homes of a few people. With the help of an interpreter my group and I explained how to use the filter. It was great because we knew that we were giving them a chance to have clean water.
For almost my entire life, I have never had to be in a situation where I had to think about the cleanliness of the water I was drinking. Being in the high altitude of the mountains and working throughout the day, we had to constantly remind each other to make sure that we were staying hydrated and only drinking from clean sources. It broke my heart to think that those that we were serving had to depend on these water sources every single day when it was tiresome for me to only do it for a week.
I then began to think of an encounter at the airport prior to leaving the USA to head to Guatemala. I went to buy a drink and noticed water in some crazy kind of container. Not sure what it was exactly, but I do know that the marketing was convincing enough that I for a moment thought about how maybe I should spend a little more for that water that must have been the purest water ever sourced. The cheaper bottle of Aquafina was surely going to kill me.
Sitting in Guatemala one night, I thought about that water and I thought about the families that we served. In addition to water filters, we had the opportunity to talk about the Gospel with them, offer prayer requests, and always pray before leaving. Because of the great ministry we served with, most had already heard the Gospel, so we were simply continuing the relationships that they had formed. They did not have a million churches to choose from just as they did not have a million water sources to choose from.
I started thinking about how silly it must seem for those without clean water to then go into a place like an American store and see 25 different overpriced options and find out that some people are fiercely loyal to a particular brand and scoff at others (I’m Team Dasani over Team Aquafina by the way). We argue over the little differences instead of being thankful that we have what so many don’t…clean water.
I then started thinking about churches and the desire that so many have to start arguing with each other instead of focusing on what really matters. I am admittedly not always concerned with exploring great theological intricacies in my spare time. I think beliefs are important. I believe we have a responsibility to study more and ask better questions. There are some issues that I feel strongly about and I understand that I have my own theological tendencies and preferences.
But honestly, I think the church has started to argue more about their favorite water instead of rejoicing in the fact that they have water at all.
I am not telling you which side is right. There are so many church battles out there that you don’t need me to list them all. What I am trying to say is that perhaps we should stop looking at where we disagree, what really are the little things, and begin to see the core of where we do agree.
Churches need to stop arguing out there about the details of God and realize that there are so many out there that would be grateful to even hear the name of Jesus for the first time. Theology does matter. Studying does matter. Asking questions does matter. But more importantly, we need to remember that the way that we do so matters as well.
Loving doesn’t require agreeing with someone. Serving doesn’t require agreeing with someone.
We can talk about our favorites and I think those discussions can be healthy. But, let’s not forget we have more important things to do and until we master those, we’re just arguing about water and not helping those that are without.