Sometimes people think that drugs and alcohol will help them to find courage, be open to creativity and to see things more clearly. Unfortunately, they only experience a disappointing delusion. They are none the wiser, more bound than free and less alive in the aftermath. 

Drunkenness and intoxication take a person further away from what’s real. This is true of all our sinful desires.

James wrote to the church about their conflicting loyalties. On one hand they followed Jesus and at the same time were following the patterns of the world that took them away from Jesus.

James 4:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

We may have more in common with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well than we might first think. In the familiar story, Jesus breaks all social and religious barriers when he speaks to a Samaritan woman with a history of adultery. He speaks to a person who thought that finding the right person would satisfy her, but it never did. She had five previous husbands and was living unlawfully with the current man.

As Jesus starts a conversation about drinking water, he leads to an invitation. Would she want to find a drink where she would be truly satisfied? He speaks about Himself as being able to satisfy her completely, perhaps even at the level of affecting her need to always have a man. As Jesus reads her mind, she realizes that God is speaking to her through him.

John 4:
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

We see the woman scramble to understand God through her religious practices. What is the right way to worship God? Is her religion true or another? At this mountain or that one? She knew that worship was an essential part of approaching God, but had questions. There was a gap between her religion and her lifestyle.

Jesus points to something other than religion. God is seeking worshippers. In the same way that we see intimate friendship expressed within the Godhead, Jesus has come to call Creation to God’s table of fellowship. By becoming one of us, he joins Heaven and Earth. The Holy Spirit has come to unite us into the beautiful relationship God experiences within the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is because of God’s Holy Spirit that we can come into friendship with God. This is the essence of what real worship is. It’s not singing the right songs, going to the right church or just having an emotional, cathartic experience. Our life in God’s Spirit starts with Jesus making a way for us to encounter the true and living God.

The spiritual disciplines speak to the mysterious reality of life in the Spirit. What are we really saying when we use the biblical language of walking in the Spirit, being filled with Spirit and being Spirit led? How can earthbound animals like us have a real encounter with God who is Spirit? The disciplines point us to places where we can drink Living Water that will quench our deepest longing.

We come by trusting the one true God who became one of us. Jesus opened a way for God to live within me. Jesus gives the drink that helps us to see God more clearly, to take our courage in God and unlock our friendship with the Almighty.