This weekend, I was honored to share the Gospel with my Anglo brothers and sister church in Jersey Village. What a powerful time we had digesting the word, confronting ignorance and rallying around truth.
The Word came from John the 4th Chapter. We looked at Jesus and the Samaritan woman, the implications of their meeting, the victory in the encounter, the future of the faith, and the results of the moment.
Jesus, a Jew, encounters a Samaritan woman at the well. Not only does He speak to her, but he ask her for a drink of water. “Will you give me a drink?” He ask her, only to be greeted with her observation of his differences and the current tradition and culture in which they existed. Though both from Jewish heritage, the Samaritans had been shunned for both staying in the land and marrying outside of their Jewish heritage, by the Jews that returned to the land after the exile was over. They continued to worship Yahweh, but had a separate temple (which was eventually destroyed), and sat like the Jews studied the writings of Moses, and waiting for the Messiah to come.
Here Jesus has an opportunity to make true the Word He just spoke to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that everyone who believes…..should have ever lasting life.” (v 16) Well Jesus, what about the Samaritan? This people group that has been ostracized and considered no longer family. As we see, they wouldn’t even drink from the same bucket, though they drank from the same source (Spiritual Parallel). We find this in that she was willing to serve him, but was knew their history wouldn’t encourage either to drink with or after one another. Sounds familiar? But what would Jesus do? Was His Word true? Would he step outside of tradition, and risk not only being seen with her, but be open to drinking from her bucket? Would he shake her hand? Would he acknowledge her as a person and then as a Child of the King? Or would His environment that spoke of them as less than overrule His Word at the well?
Well, we know the story! He put aside the ignorance of the time, and handled this well encounter with grace, mercy and truth. Thus the question was asked, “How are you handling your well encounters?” I compared the encounter at the well to the encounter with Nicodemus. Nicodemus came under the cover of night as not to unravel his social status and economic flow, where as Jesus, who was not concerned about social appearances, showed His true concerns was about truth and the Kingdom! Are you there? Are you only addressing truth in private? Only concerned with the cares of this world?
The reality is that most of us cower at the well. We not only won’t speak, but if we do, we won’t drink, and in the extreme case of exhaustion, will dip, but won’t share truth. I believe that the spread of the Gospel is being hampered by social norms. Many of us see truth, but don’t want to extend a hand in that could cause us to loose or suffer. We fear the criticism and sanctions of man more than we do the displeasure of our Lord. We are missing opportunities to spread the Gospel because we keep our mouths closed when we find ourselves uncomfortable or unsure, when the Holy Spirit must reign supreme in these moments.
The encounter continues, leading to these words, “But the time is coming-and now is here-when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth...” (v. 23) He refers to the geographical places of worship of the Jews and Samaritans, and says, the time is coming where we will all worship together in Spirit. This Spirit and Truth will be the key components to our worship, now our nationalities or social standing. One day, we will stand before the Lord and have to account for the political stances we have taken that have over ruled God’s Word. Jesus was not a politician kissing babies for vote, He was the truth in motion, living out the Word, which He was, and came to fulfill and reveal. So to do we have to be! We must be people who live to advance the Kingdom, living in truth, and responding with truth and love. We must put aside our differences, and understand that we are one Body, with one Spirit under one Lord, via one Death!
We continued, acknowledging the power of one encounter with truth! This Samaritan woman, ran back to her town, leaving her water jar and rope, and spread the word at such a rate, that Jesus had to stay for 2 days to minister to the residents. What power does your witness have? How far could your testimony to truth reach? How many lives could be saved via your obedience?
When we commit to putting the Kingdom first, the Kingdom of God will not only advance, but is subject to explode. We will see lives coming to Christ, showing the oneness that Jesus called for in His body, that mirrored His connection with The Father and the Holy Spirit. Our oneness is part of the testimony that bares witness as to the power of God. Until we harness the power of love and apply it towards our differences, we will always show flashes of His will, and not abide in it.