Summary: The past few weeks, we have seen from God’s Word that God’s heart and desire is not for us to simply be a church that exists for us, but to be a church that exists to glorify Him and serve others.
Becoming God’s Catalyst For Changed Lives – Part 2
1. Last week, we began studying John 4, focusing on Christ’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.
2. The past few weeks, we have seen from God’s Word that God’s heart and desire is not for us to simply be a church that exists for us, but to be a church that exists to glorify Him and serve others. Philippians 2:4
3. This was and is the heart of Christ. Christ desired to reach people, changing lives for God’s glory.
4. We learned that a “catalyst” is a “person that quickly causes change or action.”
5. You can be God’s catalyst for changed lives. If saved, Christ lives in you.
• God can use you.
• How? Our Savior provides us a great model.
First, by a willingness to lay aside tradition.
Second, by a willingness to lay aside prejudice. vs. 1-5
1. The Samaritans were a mixed race. They intermarried with the Assyrians centuries before. They were hated by the Jews because of their cultural mixing and because they had their own version of God’s Word and their own temple on Mount Gerizim.
• This group had their own brand of religion – a mixture of “Jehovah” worship and paganism.
• To put it bluntly, the Jews looked at the Samaritans as a bunch of “half-breed” heathens, not worthy to be in their presence.
2. Samaria was positioned between Judea and Galilee (reference map), and because of Jewish prejudices toward the Samaritan people, they frequently would travel to the east, cross over the Jordan, and thus skirt the Samaritan territory.
• Samaria was not considered part of the Holy Land; it was seen as a strip of “foreign country” separating Judea from Galilee.
• They so hated the Samaritans that they didn’t even want to pass through their land. Do you think people ever have those same attitudes today?
3. The Lord, however, did not hesitate to go through Samaritan territory. Do you know why Christ was such a catalyst for changed lives? He didn’t know prejudice. He thought that any soul was worth saving. It didn’t matter their religion, nationality, or skin color; it just didn’t matter.
4. Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs, or prejudices. But Jesus treats people as souls, accepting all with love and compassion.
5. Be honest with yourself. Do you dismiss certain people as lost causes, or do you see them as valuable in their own right, worthy of knowing about the gospel of Jesus Christ?
• When was the last time you reached out to somebody who was different? (A girl or guy visibly struggling or physically different from us, whether it is biological or voluntary – tattoos, piercings, etc.) We tend to gravitate to people who are just like us. This goes back to the message a couple of weeks ago about cliques.
• Remember the definition of a clique? It is “a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons.” Yes, kids and teens are bad about this, but where do you think they learn it from? They learn it from their parents and adults.
• Jesus had His group of 12 disciples and comrades that He was very close to, but He didn’t allow it to become a clique like the Pharisees. Jesus was extremely unprejudiced. He loved everybody. He loved all different sorts and kinds of people (Samaritans, Syro-Phoenicians, Romans, soldiers, diseased people, handicapped, demon possessed, crazy lunatics, children, publicans, prostitutes, extortionists, etc.).
• Just look at the mix of men that composed His twelve: foul-mouthed fishermen to shady tax collectors to traitors. At one point, He sends forth 120 disciples. Jesus was welcoming of all people; He was about breaking down barriers, not putting up walls of separation.
6. Those who become God’s catalyst for changed lives are like Jesus; they are not afraid to leave their comfort zone and reach out in love to those who seem different.
7. There is a great illustration of this in Mark 1:40-42: Jesus is approached by a leper. Lepers were outcasts of society. It was the ultimate uncleanness for a Jew. If you had leprosy, it meant a life of isolation and loneliness. People were prejudiced against those with leprosy.
• Are there outcasts that live in our society today? Those who are all alone with nobody to visit them in a nursing home, those with addictions, homeless, those with life-threatening diseases and nobody to help them, those who are mentally challenged, teens in juvenile delinquent centers, those with physical handicaps that feel all alone, children who don’t fit in at school for whatever reason.
• Some feel like outcasts because of physical, sexual, or mental abuse. My point is that many feel like this leper, cut off from society, with nobody who wants to be around them.