I take no credit for this analogy of faith, I picked it up from the spiritual guru Dr. Mulholland. So often, when we think of God filling us up, we see ourselves as a cup, right? We repeat the often spoken phrase from the 23 Psalm “My cup runneth over.” And we picture it. We see ourselves as our favorite cup, the Eskimo Joe cup, our favorite piece of China, our beloved coffee cup, whatever our favorite cup is, being filled from this bottomless pitcher and our cup running over of liquid spilling onto the counter below.
But when we see life in that way, we are self-centered as we are getting filled first and only when we are full then does that spiritual life flow out of us and into others. So instead of seeing ourselves as a cup, let us try to see ourselves as a measly pipe. Now I know that that is not a glamorous image. I wish it was more glamorous, so imagine yourself as a pretty pipe. This pipe is connected to a pump on one side and is open to the world on the other side. This system works easily. The pump is turned on, water flows from the pump into, through, and out the pipe, and into the world. Now sometimes the pipe gets clogged. When pipes get clogged, the water from the pump has more difficulty getting out, and not as much can flow out of it. Sometimes it will get completely clogged and no water can flow from the source through the pipe and into the world. There may be some water in the pipe, but life’s gunk can completely block the purpose of the pipe.
We understand then, that the pipe does not exist for itself, but for the source and for the world. It is a channel for the water to flow through. Sometimes the gunk can block the flow of the water limiting the reaches of the water , or the gunk of life can flow with the water and distort the nourishing effect of the water.
“That’s how it is with God’s love.” We are not to exist for ourselves to be filled, but instead to fill the world with God’s love. As we receive God’s love, we are to give God’s love. Love is to flow through us, not sit in there for us to do something with. Sin sometimes block the flow, or even worse distorts God’s love as it attempts to nourish others.
This is the best analogy that I have found to articulate the Christian life. It makes God and his love at the center of our story. We don’t exist just to be filled, but we exist to fill others as we are filled ourselves. We give love the best, when it is purely God’s love unhindered by our sin and gunk. To receive love and to give love that is our simple purpose. As long as we are giving love God will keep pumping love through us. The more we give love, the more we receive love, and the more we receive love, the more we can give love. This is the good news. We love because God first loved us.
So be a measly pipe. I know it is not glamorous, but God’s love is.