Monday, January 27, 2014

John 4:27-42 Are we afraid to be "extreme"?

 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

This week we will be studying John 4:27-42 . . . it's a famous passage that many have preached on, using it as a text for evangelism.
What do you "see" when you think of that word?
Some of our Christian brothers and sisters use what we might think of as "extreme" methods of reaching others for Christ.
Are we uncomfortable when someone hands us a tract or pamphlet detailing the Gospel message? Do we wince when we see a preacher shouting God's Word on a street corner? Do we avoid the eager college students witnessing for Christ at the beach?
Do we consider these methods extreme? Are they? These are examples of people who are bold about the message of Christ as Savior. But many of us are uncomfortable with sharing the message. Perhaps we fear that we have to be as extreme as some of these more vocal examples! But our passage this week offers us encouragement -- we have encountered the risen Savior and have been transformed, and we don't have to be timid in our sharing.

Let's use the Samaritan woman as an example . . .
After she met Jesus and talked with Him, she left immediately for the city, to tell her story. And she began to tell it to everyone; she told it to the people that she saw everyday.
What did she say? Did she ask them if she could explain the four important spiritual laws? Did she point to a passage in the Torah and discuss it with them? 
She simply told them that she'd met a man who knew everything she'd done. That He still talked kindly to her, and He offered her cleansing from her sins. Then she asked if they wanted to come and see Him, too.
Is it that simple?
Yes, it is. What is our story?  We don't have to have a story like Paul . . . a blinding light on the roadway. We don't have to have a story like some celebrities, or reformed criminals do. Yes, some people do have stories of miracles and transformation, but part of the wonder of our loving Father is that He meets each of us in the midst of our own situation. Every story is different, but every story of Christ at work is significant!
And don't forget: every story is ongoing -- it doesn't end with our conversion; it begins with it!
So when our friend or co-worker sits down and says, "I'm really struggling with ....." just tell your story. Be honest with them and tell them you've struggled, too. And that your relationship with Christ has affected those struggles. 
When someone tells you their feelings of loneliness and depression, tell them how Christ has been a real presence that helps you persevere through loneliness and disappointment. Look for opportunities to share your story.
Just keep one thing in mind, and ask the Spirit to help you know when to tell your story, and when to just listen.
Sometimes people aren't ready to hear your story -- sometimes they are in such pain that they need tender, compassionate care. They need you to love them and be present with them. They need you to quietly help bind up their emotional wounds. The time for sharing stories will come later.
We'll continue our study of this passage next time.


Belinda said...

Sometimes we have to establish some kind of relationship before we can share the gospel. Otherwise, others may turn from us and not be willing to listen. I believe this is what missionaries have to do.

And like the Samaritan woman, we don't have to give them the whole story right away. We just have to start with our own experiences and see where it leads. Even one comment referring to the Lord may hook someone's interest.

Carrie P. said...

I know Christian co-worker's compassion and testimonies were what lead me to Christ. We just have to be open to how the Holy Spirit can lead us.