Summary: When we look for satisfaction in life, we expereince satisfaction from worship.
EXPERIENCING SATISFACTION IN WORSHIP
After church with his father one Sunday morning, before getting into bed that evening a little boy kneeled at his bedside and prayed, "Dear God, we had a good time at church today, but I wish you had been there."
That boy experienced dissatisfaction with his worship that morning. I suppose there is no part of the church’s program with which more people express more dissatisfaction and disagreement over how it ought to be done than with worship.
Robert Webber, author of Worship Is a Verb, said he came in the early seventies when he first became interested in worship to identify four deep-seated concerns about worship: (1) He began to see it as dominated by the pastor or minister; (2) He began to feel that the congregation was little more than an audience; (3) He began to sense that "free" worship was not free, but fixed and often dead; (4) He began to feel that the mystery was gone.
Worship can be a terribly dissatisfying experience, but that feeling develops, more often than not, from a dissatisfying life. Having and maintaining satisfaction in life has a dramatic effect on our worship. We see this quite clearly in John 4 through Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well. Jesus demonstrates quite clearly how worship is related to satisfaction with life.
The experience of the woman at the well, as revealed in her conversation with Jesus, raises a question that is tremendously important to our lives and our worship.
I. HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE SATISFACTION IN LIFE?
The account of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus is a familiar one: Jesus went through Samaria on this trip from Judea to Galilee. This was unusual, even though the route was more direct. Normally Jews would go many miles out of their way to avoid the Samaritans. John specifically says, though, that Jesus "had to go through Samaria." There was a mission for him there.
Jesus had stopped at Jacob’s well when the woman appeared at about noon, and Jesus asked her for a drink. Now Jews and Samaritans did not mix, especially men and women. The Samaritans of the Southern Kingdom had intermarried with the Assyrians who had taken them captive. The Jews despised this race, even though they had tried to maintain their Jewish heritage, even begging the Jews for a priest who would teach them the true worship of God. Their request was rejected. They thus established their own place of worship, building a temple on Mount Gerizim. By the time of this encounter, that temple had been destroyed for a century and a half. They continued to worship there, though, and even today, while there are less than 500 Samaritans left, they gather regularly on the mountain to worship.
Jesus offers her the opportunity to have satisfaction in life - living water. She raises the question, "How?” how can he give satisfaction?
Have you ever been really thirsty? Thirst is what kills people in the desert.
In his book Sahara Unveiled, William Langewiesche tells the story of an Algerian named Lag Lag and a companion whose truck broke down while crossing the desert:
They nearly died of thirst during the three weeks they waited before being rescued. As their bodies dehydrated, they became willing to drink anything in hopes of quenching their terrible thirst. The sun forced them into the shade under the truck, where they dug a shallow trench. Day after day they lay there. They had food, but did not eat, fearing it would magnify their thirst. Dehydration, not starvation, kills wanderers in the desert, and thirst is the most terrible of all human sufferings.
Physiologists…use Greek-based words to describe stages of human thirst. For example, the Sahara is dipsogenic, meaning "thirst provoking."
In Lag Lag’s case, they might say he progressed from eudipsia, "ordinary thirst," through bouts of hyperdipsia, meaning "temporary intense thirst," to polydipsia, "sustained excessive thirst." Polydipsia means the kind of thirst that drives one to drink anything. There are specialized terms for such behavior, including uriposia, the drinking of urine, and hemoposia, the drinking of blood.
For word enthusiasts, this is heady stuff. Nevertheless, the lexicon has not kept up with technology. I have tried, and cannot coin a suitable word for the drinking of rusty radiator water. Radiator water is what Lag Lag and his assistant started into when good drinking water was gone. In order to survive, they were willing to drink, in effect, poison.
Many people do something similar in the spiritual realm. They depend on things like money, sex, and power to quench spiritual thirst. Unfortunately, such "thirst quenchers" are in reality spiritual poison, a dangerous substitute for the "living water" Jesus promised.
This woman wanted the water, and Jesus reinforces the satisfaction it will bring (verses 13,14). Jesus had to penetrate her life first, though, so he speaks to her about her lifestyle. With the sin in her life isolated, she seriously considers that he is a prophet and seeks out how she can worship God in the proper way (verses 19,20). She wanted satisfaction, and realized it comes from worship.