Summary: A message to challenge American Christians to change the way we see our country (USA), our church and ourselves.
We have all had the experience of reading our Bible and having a verse, a phrase or even a word leap off the page and grab our spirit. When that happens, the Lord is obviously trying to tell us something. Recently, I have had that experience while studying, John 4. In verse 4, we read “But He needed to go through Samaria. We know that Samaria was a “G.U.” (geographically undesirable) location for the Jews. Yet, here it is in black and white. “He needed to go through Samaria.” It is as if John is begging us to ask the question “Why?”
Clearly, one reason is because Jesus knew there would be a woman at Jacob’s well at the sixth hour that needed “living water.” A second, less apparent reason at first reading is the network of people the woman knew. After her experience of salvation, she immediately went into the city (v.28) and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” I believe the change was so readily apparent and the passion with which she spoke, so compelling, that the men of the city had to find out for themselves.
But the Lord has shown me a third reason, “He needed to go through Samaria.” Remember the chronology of the story. Jesus and the disciples arrive at the well. Immediately, the disciples to into the city to buy food. The woman comes from the city to draw water from the well. Jesus engages the woman in conversation. Toward the end of that conversation, the disciples return from the city with food. They see Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman, yet no one said, “What do you seek?”, or “Why are you talking with her?” Smart move on the disciples’ part to keep quiet at this point! The woman leaves and goes into the city. The disciples try to get Jesus to eat, but He tells them, “I have food to eat which you do not know” (v.32). His ultimate desire is to do the will of the Father.
Now, here is where I believe we see the third reason for “going through Samaria.” The woman has brought the men out of the city to see Jesus (v.30). Jesus looks up His eyes, sees this crowd coming towards His group and says,
“Do you not say, ’There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
John 4:35 NKJV
According to Spiros Zhodiates – the word “look” (theomai) means “to wonder, to behold, view attentively, contemplate, indicating a sense of wondering consideration involving a careful and deliberate vision which interprets its object.” The third reason for going through Samaria was so the disciples would see the harvest!
From a business time management perspective, couldn’t Jesus have just told them about the harvest, instead of going through Samaria? Imagine this: Jesus and His disciples are sitting around a campfire. He pulls out a scroll, and unrolls it and says, “Gentleman, I have been doing some demographics research from the AD 30 Roman Empire Census, and discovered a pocket of Samaritans that need the gospel.” While I would be among the first to see the value of “hard data”, that alone will not move our people to passion for souls. They “need to go through Samaria”!
We must shift the way we see..,
I. Our Country…From a “Church-culture” to a “Mission-field” (Kennon Callahan)
Did you know?
Since 1991, the adult population in the United States has grown by 15%. During that same period the number of adults who do not attend church has nearly doubled, rising from 39 million to 75 million – a 92% increase!
· The United States is the third largest unchurched nation in the world.
· North America is the only continent where Christianity is not growing.
· Seven out of 10 people in North America do not know Christ.
· The United States is now the 13th largest receptor of Christian missionaries in the world.
· Only 4 percent of Americans have a biblical worldview.
· More than 80 percent of all churches in the United States are plateaued or declining.
· We lose 72 churches per week or 10.27 per day.
· We gain 24 churches per week or 3.42 per day. That’s a net loss of 48 churches per week or 6.85 per day.
· Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth.
· While the U.S. population grew by 11.4 percent over the last 10 years, church growth declined by 9.5 percent fifty years. In other words, we are not even reaching our children. George Barna.