The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him. (John 4:29-30)
Relate: I had a pretty cool dream last night. I dreamed I was working with a team from Uganda that rescued women who were enslaved in the sex trade in the city of Lira. Why Uganda and not some other place, and why Lira and not the much larger Kampala I do not know. Anyways, in my dream, there would be a team that would search out and find a girl who wanted to be freed and then “steal” her and get her to a safe and secret location. That’s where I would come in. My responsibility was to help these girls and women get into America and begin a new life.
My task was threefold. Of course there is the logistics of getting them into the country and connected with various communities of Ugandan-Americans who could then pick up the task of helping them become acculturated in their new life. Two other tasks that weren’t as obvious but were far more daunting. One was to help the women break free from the hurt, abuse, and scaring that their previous life had left on them. The second was to educate the community against the strong bias they would have of someone with what they would consider a very checkered background. The community’s prejudices were one of the greatest hindrances to the women’s healing.
The coolest thing is, my model for doing all this was Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. Jesus wanted to come and bring change and spiritual freedom to Sychar. He could have easily just walked right into town and started preaching and performing miracles. Jesus was pretty good at gathering crowds. (He was also good at dispersing them, but that’s another matter) If Jesus did came to town in that way, what would have happened to this poor woman? Would she still have been on the outside looking in? Would she still have been marginalized? Would the view of her by the rest of the community have changed at all? Remember that this is a small village were at least a half dozen men (and probably more than a couple newer wives) would be reminded of their own shame every time they saw her.
React: When Jesus comes to save, He makes all things new. Yes, he dealt with her spiritual longing, but this woman also had an addiction to or problem with bad, short term relationships. I can imagine that she compensated for never being able to keep a man’s heart by trying to catch all of their eyes. I would almost guarantee that she didn’t have very many, if any, female friends. She was an outcast. That is likely how everybody viewed her, including herself.
But now the entire town was changed. They met Jesus. God showed up. In modern American parlance, we would say the community experienced revival. Jesus came to Sychar in such a way that she was the catalyst for this revival. She went from being a social outcast at the well to being a spiritual leader in the town. Jesus made all things new. He didn’t just meet her spiritual longing, he began a process that would bring emotional healing and social reconciliation as well.
When we are obedient to the Great Commission we will be about making disciples. All too often we end the process at making converts. We focus all of our energy and efforts into getting people to make a decision for Christ and then, when they do, we give them a figurative pat on the back and send them on their way. The Church is the means through which Jesus will reconcile the world to Himself. We are His bride. We are His community. So lets not forget to be community. Making a decision for Christ isn’t the end of all things. It is a beginning of a whole new life. But babies need siblings and families and communities. Let us be the Church.
God, I am so grateful for the many ways You have brought healing and reconciliation in my life. I am grateful to be a part of the Church, Your beautiful bride. I am grateful for those opportunities You have placed in my life to be a tool of Your healing and reconciliation in the lives of others. Help me to effectively use those opportunities so that You might be glorified and those I know and love can come to better see You. Help me to be alert and looking for such opportunities both locally and globally. Help me to bring You to my world.