“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” (John 4:15)
Read: Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:1
Relate: A while back I was browsing around the internet mostly just wasting time when I “stumbled upon” A website that gave twenty-three reasons to become a Christian. The very first one was, “So you don’t get destroyed in hell”. As I started reading these, I started thinking about the answers like I was a skeptic. How would someone who doesn’t believe or agree with this well intended message view it? Right off the bat I would be thinking…
They’re playing the fear card. Leading with aces. Is that the best they got?
#2 was so I could be forgiven…
From what? By whom?
#3 so I could be born again.
Oh great. They want me to join those crazies.
4-9 were actually pretty compelling reasons: Have a relationship with God. Have peace. Know truth. Have direction in life. Have freedom. Rejoice. If I could be convinced Christianity could give these things to me, I would want in. But then there’s #10 Covering over children.
This just begs a priest/altar boy joke. I’m sorry, but it does.
#11 So you may know the Cornerstone
That sounds a little Zen to me.
#12 So you can pray.
#15 So you can be mature Hey wait a minute. If that isn’t the most condescending piece of…
#17 So that the sting can be taken out of death.
So nobody who died a painful or violent death was a “true” Christian?
#20 So that you may know God’s support
In contrast to His hammer? (See #1)
And finally So that you can get to heaven.
Pie in the sky in the sweet by and by.
React: The sad truth is, those inside and those outside of the church are often speaking a completely different language. They are approaching the world from completely different viewpoints and motivations. The good news is, even Jesus experienced this to a degree. Here He is giving this profound truth about living water and she responds, “Oh good. Give me some of this stuff so that I don’t have to keep coming back to this well.” Her motivations, her reasons for wanting this “living water” were all wrong. But Jesus doesn’t immediately try to correct her thinking or change her motivations. Instead He digs to the core of why she wants what she wants so that He might reveal to her that her true deep longing is for something only God can satisfy. (More on that in days to come)
In one of His parables Jesus is commanding His servants to “go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come.” Paul says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might win some.” Effective evangelism requires a very sensitive ear and heart. We need to be very aware not only of what we are saying but also what they are hearing. What are their deeper longings? Some people might come to Jesus for “fire insurance”. Others might be enticed by the lure of heaven. Most are looking for and needing something in the here and now. Yes, in view of eternity, a lot of their felt needs might seem awfully petty, but the great news of the gospel is relevant in the now as well as the future. No matter what the question, Jesus really is the answer. No matter what the longing, He is the fulfillment.
God, I am so grateful that You truly do satisfy my every longing. You invite me to come and You welcome me when I do every tome no matter how off kilter my reasons for coming might be. Help me to be ever more aware that You have what those around me are looking for. What You offer is the fulfillment for what they desire but on my own I am unable to connect the dots from one to the other. Help me to be ever more sensitive to Your Spirit. Help me to listen to Your voice and speak with Your prompting so that I am presenting You at their place of longing.