Monthly Archives: January 2016

Jesus and the Flint Water Crisis

It seems like everybody is talking about Flint these days. Our city is on the national news. Celebrities and politicians all have opinions, views and various forms of outrage on our water problems. Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore have showed up and even Cher (I got you babe) has sent a truckload of water.


That got the theologian in me thinking, what if Jesus himself showed up in Flint. My firm belief, of course, is that Jesus has been and continues to be in Flint as He works through his followers, but you know what I mean… If Jesus physically walked up the city hall steps, what would he do?


Jesus and water are seen together a lot in scripture. In Matthew 14, Jesus walked on the water. Maybe that task would be a little easier on Flint’s lead laced water supply. Water was a big part of his conversation with the woman at the well in John 4. When she came at noon to get her bucket of water, Jesus told her he could give her “living water and she would never be thirsty again.” He wasn’t speaking of the liquid at the bottom of the well, but a spring of life that could bubble up within her soul. Still, maybe if Jesus came to Flint, he would offer our residents the opportunity to never drink from their contaminated faucets again. We’d all like that.   And remember Jesus first miracle involved water. Maybe if Jesus came to Flint he could turn the mud slinging, blame-casting politician’s whine into water. That would be nice.


But maybe the most telling words from Jesus concerning Flint and water are in Matthew 25 when he said, “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” Maybe if Jesus walked up the Flint city hall steps he would say, “I was thirsty and you made sure that I was drinking clean water. I was thirsty and you looked after me. I was thirsty and you educated me on what to do in the midst of this crisis. I was thirsty and you didn’t forget about me. ”


As a Jesus follower in Flint, I might not be able to pull out of my wallet enough money to fix the infrastructure of our lead pipes or provide enough bottled water for all of our residents to drink until the politicians and civil engineers figure out the next steps. But in the meantime, I can look after my thirsty brothers and sisters. I can partner with organizations in the education, distribution, and care of those whose water is not fit to drink. I can volunteer through organizations like the Red Cross. And I continue to pray that God would work, that people would be spared from the negative impact of this ordeal and that the followers of Jesus like me would step up and say, “I want to be part of the long term solution not just spout outrage when the video cameras are rolling.”


If Jesus came walking into Flint, I think he would say, “This is my city. I have not abandoned you or forgotten you. I love this place and I am here to make everything new.”

A Plea to our Leaders

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul wrote:Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Earlier in the same letter to the Corinthians Paul called the believers: “I urge you to imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16). Similarly, to the church at Thessalonica, Paul wrote that he and his companions “offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate” (2 Thessalonians 3:9). And the author of Hebrews encouraged the believers to “remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrew 13:7).


All of this to say, as a leader you are to live a life worthy of imitation: in prayer, in love, in service, in attitude, in purity, in giving, in the study of God’s Word, in commitment to building the Kingdom of God.


Could you say with Paul to the people in your care: “Follow my example as I follow Christ”? If everyone in your church prayed as much as you, read his or her Bible as much as you, sacrificially gave as much as you, served as much as you; were as friendly to newcomers as much as you, testified of their faith to non believers as much as you—would it be a better, deeper, wider, more dynamic church?


I can hear the resistance now: That’s a lot of pressure. I don’t want my life to be under a microscope. I will mess up and I don’t want others to stumble because of me. Two Words: Horse Hockey! Quit hiding behind a spiritually sounding but wimpish leadership reality that say, “Look to Jesus not to me.”  If you are a leader: LEAD!  It’s what you do!  Are you prefect? No. Will you make mistakes; lose your temper; say something or do something dumb? Yes! Yes! Yes!  Still, in our local churches and in our denomination we need leaders who are willing to lead by their example!  


Lead in such away that you could tell anyone —imitate my walk with the Lord and follow me as I follow Christ.