I would like to elaborate on why I call a true follower of Jesus a “Bula man-river.”*
Man is the riverbed, and the Holy Spirit is “Living Waters,” hence the Bula man-river. (John 7:38) Like a glove to a hand, there is a natural fit between the riverbed (man) and the “living waters” ( Holy Spirit). They exist for each other. They exist as one so that the Bula man-river’s* existence is codependent upon the other. Neither one can act in “solitary mode” without the other being affected. They exist to live in the “Triune mode” for the Spirit brings man to the Father through the Son. Together they live as unified being with the Spirit bringing man into the “Triune Life” of God in heaven. If we remember that, we will understand the “living waters” is all man need because the riverbed exists to be filled and completed by it. There is no other purpose for the riverbed (you), except to be filled with the “living waters” (Spirit). In that condition, man’s response is to follow the lead of the Spirit if the “living water” is to continue unabated and be filled to the river’s banks. It takes effort in our participation to “carry our cross” daily and follow Jesus and stay hidden in Him, as the waters cover the riverbed. We keep the Spirit “unquenched” and flowing in the Bula man-river (2 Tim. 1:6). The Spirit helps to keep the riverbed filled and buried in the watery cover of Jesus’ Word of power. This is the life of miracles in the Spirit.
Mountain Landscape with River Valley and the Prophet Hosea, By Flemish Painter Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607)
‘Flow’ to Others
“Flow” or hydrology is the central driving force of a river’s ecology. “Flow” means movement and life. It’s the opposite of inactivity and morbidity. “Flow” does not stop or get bottled up in us but overflows to others – “to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14-16). To “flow” means to be missional in our outlook to life. It is to live a life of purpose in Jesus, who “flows” in man into the valleys and communities every day. As we experience this joyful Triune Life in Jesus, we are to seek and share this awesome life with others. With the conviction of Jesus’ mediatory work (“flow”), we now look to Him and follow His example of doing good to all in the valleys we will course through (Acts 10:38; 2 Cor. 2:14-15).
God has made us “unified beings” joined to Him as He is in His Son by the Spirit’s power. This life is all conveyed in the metaphor of the river, the riverbed (man) and the “living waters” (Spirit). A unified being is a universal being, not a “solitary being.” God seeks relationships with other human beings as naturally as He loves us individually. Whether we realize it or not, we are all river-dwellers, and we all live downstream from one another. We benefit from the generosity of other people as we live like rivers, “flowing” into the lives of people in our valleys and communities. The interaction of life experiences of other people with ours, all happening in one common water source of Jesus Himself. Certainly, no man can live to himself, and no man dies to himself (Rom. 14:7).
Perhaps no other human endeavor forces us to apply so many disciplines to harness the power and miracle of the river and its waters. Its dynamism connects to so many economic, social, and environmental concerns on which we find common ground for relationships through its generous free-flowing waterways. This is a powerful metaphor, but it is spiritually real. It is God’s reality for man to become Bula man-rivers* that never stop flowing to others (John 7:38).
The Greek philosophy of dualism has dominated modern thinking in religion and education: life is compartmentalized into two worlds man lives. There is the spiritual world, and there’s the physical/material one, and never the twain shall meet, let alone agree. This veil of blindness has hindered man from experiencing the three-dimensional Triune Life in Jesus. G.K. Chesterton said that men are incomplete thinkers. “We want things in fragments, that way we do not have to think about our inconsistencies. That way, we do not mind when our work contradicts our ideals (or principles), or when our politics contradicts our faith, and we keep each thing in its watertight compartment.” (The Apostle of Common Sense, p. 19) Even in our laws, there is a separation of church and state. One is spiritual and the other is secular. Coupled with the unproved theory of evolution, we live life unsure if we are instinctive beasts or transcendent beings.
We live this dualistic persona, taking our spiritual life to “church” on Sunday mornings and subsisting like evolutionary beasts the rest of the week. However, the river never gives a picture of such a life lived in dualism – the supernatural and the physical/secular is one expression of life. There is only one life and lived as one. The spiritual and the temporal are fused together into one single expression of life – Christ and the Bula man-river* flowing as one “unified being.” The first movement of the Bula man-river* is to live as a “unified being” in relationship with the people in his valley. Paul, by stating, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” proves the fusion of both the physical and spiritual life into ONE in Jesus and the Spirit before the Father (Gal. 2:20).
The valley is the world, not only in all its beauty, but its ugliness as well. The river never differentiates or discriminates; it waters all in its path. It is man’s dualistic thought that makes him live a life of contradictions and opposing values. We can’t live as Bula man-rivers* of God with generosity on the spiritual side and self-centeredness on the physical/material side. The Love of God waters all and accepts all, and that is why Paul said “there is no law against love” (Gal. 5:23b, 22-23).
The Oxbow, Connecticut River Valley, by Thomas Cole (1836)
The Bula man-river* receives the whole of Christ in the “living waters” – both His divinity and glorified humanity. This means Jesus is with you in all your activities – in your place of work, in your hobby, when you are at a wedding, or watching a favorite sport, and in all circumstance of life. The river teaches us that Christ is ever present with us, in our brokenness and our good times, in our struggles and our peace, in our joy and our sadness. He is part of our every experience as a human. Nevertheless, when we compartmentalize our lives, we suffer from the disorientation of trying to live in two worlds with contradictory posture to each other. We live in the presence of God all the time, and Jesus is in us all of the time. In the movie Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell said, “Yes, God called me to be a missionary, but He also made me fast.” Either way, whether Liddell is performing missionary work or running in the Olympics, Jesus is fully and completely in his life. We have that freedom to be what we are gifted as a person. When you are at a baseball game, He is immersed in the game also. This is the vicarious humanity of Jesus living in us. This is Trinitarian living being experienced as the Bula man-river.*
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you today and give you strength for authentic creative “Triune Living” as a Bula man-river.*
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiang (Your Servant in Christ)
*The “Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. Man is the “riverbed” and the Spirit is the “living waters” that cover him and flows to all in his valley (destiny). (John 7:37-39)