Once when I was on vacation, I was sitting in a restaurant overlooking the beach. The water was a clear, blue and beautiful. I could see people snorkeling around a reef just off the shore line. I had been there myself earlier in the day. Beneath the surface of the sea were beautiful coral and colorful fish of every variety. It was the exact kind of place I would want to live if I were a fish!
Inside the restaurant where I was sitting, there was an aquarium near my table. It held 55 gallons of water and contained about a dozen tropical fish. There were a few shells in the bottom. There were several plastic plants sticking out of the gravel in the bottom of the tank. A few rocks had been placed to form a small cave for the fish to enter.
It wasn’t an unattractive aquarium. But as I looked at the aquarium beside me and then looked out the window at the beautiful crystal clear ocean, I couldn’t help but think about the difference. “I feel sorry for these fish,” I said to my wife, Melanie, as I nodded toward the aquarium.
“What?” she asked, looking up from her Cobb Salad.
“I feel sorry for these fish,” I repeated.
“Why do you feel sorry for them?” she asked with a puzzled expression.
“Because they live so close to that,” I answered, nodding toward the ocean. “But they have to live in this.”
“You think too much,” Melanie answered with a slight grin.
There they were – pitiful, little, beautiful fish trapped in a 55 gallon container with plastic plants and a fake cave while the ocean was a hundred yards away. It sort of reminds me of the lifestyle of many Christians.
Authentic Christianity is an ocean of grace. It is a place teeming with life – abundant life. It is filled with opportunities to explore new places and experience new things that those outside the sea of faith will never know.
Empty religion is like the aquarium at the restaurant. There are things there that sort of resemble real Christianity, but they are nothing more than plastic counterfeits. It is a man made product that is intended to duplicate the authentic, but never succeeds. We can travel its limits from one end to the other, but keep finding ourselves coming right back to the same old fake cave.
I wished I could take a net and scoop up those fish in the aquarium and release them into the ocean, where they were intended to live. That’s the same thing Jesus wished for me. So He did. He took me out of the religious fish bowl and immersed me into His grace. Since that day, I’ve never become tired of exploring all the wonders He has prepared for me.
Are you living in the aquarium? You don’t have to stay there. There’s a whole world of wonder to be known by those who are willing to receive His abundant life. Don’t settle for a religious life. Life is meant to be an adventure in which the Holy Spirit guides you into the depths of Jesus Christ.