The Dead Sea is a weird place. I’m not very good at floating. In fact I can’t really do it – I just sink to the bottom. But even my lack of buoyancy wasn’t an issue at the Dead Sea. Try as I might, I could not sink. The Dead Sea could very much be an illustration of the Christian life. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea. It’s just too salty. The area surrounding it is barren. It’s a treeless wilderness where the soil is unsuitable to sustain life. In short, it is correctly named the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is mentioned in the Bible. In particular Ezekiel 47 speaks about it. Here God is showing the prophet a picture of the sea where, as God pours out his river into it, it begins to teem with life. Trees grow up on the shores. Animals come down to drink. Fish begin to inhabit the waters. And people begin to fish. This picture is impossible. If fresh water is added the salt concentration reduces, and I guess that if enough water was added to the Dead Sea it would eventually become fresh. But how much would be needed? Surely it would be more than impossible. I think that what the prophet is speaking of is probably a radical transformation in the nature of the water itself. It is as if the presence of God’s fresh water, almost miraculously, makes the salt water become fresh. You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that this is not normal, and this is the point. It can only be done by God.
What a great picture of the Christian life this is. In so many ways we are just like the Dead Sea. The message of the gospel is clear, spiritually we are dead. By our very nature we cannot sustain life. We cannot experience a living relationship with God because of our own sinfulness and there is nothing we can do about it. We are in need of a radical transformation. The impetus is on God’s work. As we let Jesus into our lives he changes us – we are made fresh. Not merely like the fresh water, but also to become a place that begins to grow and flourish. I don’t know about you but this is the kind of life that I want. I am a follower of Jesus and I know that this is what he has been doing in my life but I am also aware that I still have places that feel dry and desolate. I’m not talking about salvation here but I simply realise there are times when God seems distant, and my Christian walk feels dry. I want Jesus to keep my walk with him full of life. I am sick and tired of barrenness. I’m fed up with deadness. What I want is to become fully alive – to enjoy a relationship with him.
What about you?