On the final day of Urbana 18, a conference for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Anne Zaki spoke the truth in love to the 10,000 young people in attendance. Her powerful and inspiring message focused on the meaning of the river of life in Revelation 22 and how Christ changed everything for everyone. Hopefully, it encouraged those at the conference to seek the Lord and share the Gospel of Christ with others locally and globally, which was the stated goal of the missions conference after all.
Revelation 22 begins, “the angel of the Lord showed me the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb… no longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship Him.” Zaki reminded the audience that the river of life appeared all the way back in Genesis 2. God channeled a river through the Garden of Eden to water every bit of it. The Garden of Eden was a perfect place for God to be with man and woman. After all, Zaki said, what God desires is to be with His people.
Humanity also longs deeply for God. Some realize this longing and others do not. This was Zaki’s point: we are all in need of the water of life; Christ offers us living water, and we must choose to accept this water and the eternal life promised with it. Revelation 22 invites us into a picture of the city of God. There, believers will dwell in perfect harmony with God and with each other and there the river of the water of life never ends.
Zaki emphasized that we have sinned and choose to live our lives away from the Lord. We can know about the water of life and still, in our blindness and worldliness, reject it and die in thirst, outside of the city of God, as Revelation 22 says. Some foolishly choose fleeting life here on earth rather than life eternal. Zaki then boldly entreated those who ignore Christ’s call to us to live repentant, pure, and humble lives. In our flesh, we so love this world that we hold onto anger, bitterness, and hatred rather than allowing Jesus to transform our hearts. We think that power, money, sex, and other empty temptations are more satisfying than Christ’s love (verse 15).
Zaki did not shy away from speaking about sins condemned in scripture, even when such condemnation is not popular in our culture today. Christians often do not want to discuss or be convicted of sexual immorality, idolatry and other deep sins of the heart. But Zaki proclaimed what Scripture says –that those who persist in these sins will be outside of the city of God (Revelation 22:15).
But then Zaki reminded her audience of the Samarian woman from John 4. This woman’s soul was vulnerable and exposed in front of Jesus. He knew her entire, messy story, and He still loved her. He told her about the water of life, which quenches every thirst. She asked to have this living water and, having received it, could not help but go out and tell all that Jesus had said. We should all approach the Gospel this way. It is a breath of fresh air; it is life abundant; it is the opportunity to live eternally with Christ. Zaki reminded the students at Urbana18 that there is nothing from their past that disqualifies them from receiving the grace of Jesus. How could we NOT share such a message?
At the end of her talk, she emphasized the power of God, his promise to return, and the hope that Christ offers to everyone in and outside of the “City of God.” Revelation 22:17 says, “And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” We can enjoy the beauty of Christ forever without a price because He paid the price for us on the cross. Through Jesus we are given access to the river of life again.
Anne Zaki and another speaker, Sarah Breuel, encouraged the students to say “yes” to the Lord’s call because such response changes everything when we finally let go of our false notion of self-sufficiency and choose to say “yes” to the Lord’s calling for our lives.
This message from Revelation reached the core of the conference’s purpose of supporting and encouraging students to listen to the Lord’s call and join His global mission. The purpose of the Urbana conference is to “reveal God’s glory and call generations to Christ’s Lordship.” Zaki proclaimed from Revelation 22. We know that at the end of our story, Christ wins. We can be faithful witnesses for God, let go of personal comfort and worldly idols, and truly encounter Jesus when we say yes to Him.
This message is precisely what the students at Urbana18 needed to hear on the final day of the conference. The truth of the Gospel, including the warnings of living in the flesh, and the promise of Christ’s return. There is hope in Revelation 22. Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (verse 13). He was, and is, and is coming again (Revelation 1). Jesus invites us to come to Him, find rest in Him, and once we have tasted the living water, share it with the rest of the world.Google+