Watch What You’re Streaming

by Holly Berry

I was caught off guard by the question. Sure, it’s not exactly unusual for a speaker at The Voice to survey the crowd during a sermon. But when I heard the words asking if there was anyone in the room who had never subscribed to Netflix, I wondered what the point was. I mean, based on the room’s demographics, it seemed likely the answer would be no one.

Well, almost no one.

I admit, I looked around first before raising my hand, not wanting to expose myself as the only person still watching shows and movies on DVD and over-the-air TV (cue gasps of horror). But to my surprise I was not the only Netflix holdout to lift a hand. Then again, maybe the handful who responded had subscriptions to streaming services other than Netflix…but let’s not talk about that.

Turning my attention to the sermon title on the screen, the words “Now Streaming” sent my mind on a tangent. My first thought was, well, nothing – since I don’t have any streaming services, I am currently streaming nothing. That didn’t sound right, so my brain started flipping through alternate responses, hoping to come up with something funny, something else that I could be streaming. But instead of funny, I got…water. Water streams. And as a Christian, the kind of water I am streaming is living water.

Beat that, Netflix.

Days after the service, I started thinking more about what it means to stream living water. I pulled out my Bible and looked at all the verses with the words living water. There weren’t as many as I thought there would be. The obvious reference was in John 4, the account of the woman at the well. Jesus stops by a well in Samaria, sees a Samaritan woman there to get water, and starts explaining how regular water doesn’t last, but living water is forever. Jesus offers her this water, stuff that will keep her from ever thirsting again. In other words, Jesus streams living water. When we accept and follow him, living water streams from him to us. That’s a classic straight out of Sunday school.

Jesus expanded on his water metaphor later, in John 7:38: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” The next verse goes on to say that living water is a reference to the Holy Spirit, who would come and fill believers up to overflowing. So not only do believers have living water streaming in to them, but they also have living water streaming out of them.

We are streaming living water.

Jesus provides it, we soak it in, and those doing life around us sit in the splash zone. In modern-day entertainment terms you could say it like this: Jesus is the show, we are the streaming platform, and the people we interact with are the viewers – they see Jesus through us.

Or at least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

In reality, sometimes what we end up streaming is less the Jesus show and more the kinda-Jesus show, a spinoff starring Me, Myself, and I, with Jesus as the special cameo guest. We look out for our own interests without regard for the interests of others. We speak words thoughtlessly instead of bridling our tongues. We make decisions based on our own understanding rather than trusting in God. When others see us, sometimes they really see us, not the God who lives in us. It happens. Forgiving attitudes and selfless actions tend to spring out of us in fits and spurts, more like a geyser than a steady stream. We have moments where we are true ambassadors for Christ, we represent Jesus well no matter the situation. But there are other moments where instead of an eruption of Old Faithful we get an eruption of old flesh.

So how do we ensure that we stream what God intended us to stream? Start by acknowledging where the problems are coming from. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What we fill ourselves up with tends to overflow out of us later. What are you allowing to influence you, consciously or unconsciously? Words, actions, attitudes, analyze them all. Mentally retrace your steps to determine what activity, person, or thought pattern sparks wrong behavior later. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you about anything in your life that should not be there.

Besides checking what is coming in, check what may be missing. The next verse in Matthew 12 says “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” In order for good things to flow out of you, you first need to put good things in. What good treasure are you storing in your heart? Fill yourself up with things that are true, honest, just, and pure. What did you last read in your Bible? Notice the question started with what, not when. If you can’t recall what, when doesn’t really matter – nothing good was stored up in your heart. Your motivation to read should be to get closer to God, not to complete a task.

The more we do these things, the more our overflow of living water will stop looking like the product of a geyser and start looking like that of a hydroelectric dam. Really. As a river (Jesus) continuously feeds into a hydroelectric dam (us), some water stays back while the rest flows through. The dam harnesses energy (the Holy Spirit) from the flow of the water but then sends the river on its way, where it continues to flow for others to use downstream. Construction of a dam is a process. So is sanctification. But the end result is a life-long stream of a living stream, and that is a livestream worth watching.

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