Summary: Our Past, Shame, The Holy Spirit, Our Testimony
John 4:4-26 (p. 741) May 18, 2014
[Brennan Manning tells a story in “Lion and Lamb” of a recent convert to Jesus who was approached by an unbelieving friend. His friend’s first statement: “So you’ve been converted to Christ?”
“Then you must know a great deal about Him?”
“Tell me, what country was He born in?
“I don’t know”
“What was His age when He died?”
“I don’t know.”
“How many sermons did He preach?”
“I don’t know.”
“You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ.”
“You’re right. I am ashamed of how little I know about Him. But I know this: 3 years ago I was a drunk. I was in debt. My family was falling to pieces: they dreaded the sight of me. But now I have quit drinking. We’re out of debt. Our home is happy. And my children and wife look forward to me coming home each evening. Jesus did all this for me. I know this much about Christ!”
Warren Webster was a missionary to Pakistan for 15 years and when he addressed the National Missionary Convention several years back he said, “If I had my life to live all over again I would live it to change the lives of people, because you have not changed anything until you have changed the lives of people!”
Changing this world requires changing the lives of people...That’s the mission of the church...and yet, Church can become a place we go, a series of meetings we have, an agenda to get done.
And we can forget this powerful truth – Jesus came here to change people’s lives...and He’s commissioned His church to do the same.
Bill Gaither wrote one of the first pieces of music I heard after my conversion. Gary Nelson used it at Hill N Dale. It was called “Hallelujah, A Praise Gathering for Believers.”
And it begins with the narrator reading these words: “Well down through history changing lives has been his business. He’s changed the rich...He’s changed the poor...He’s changed the high and mighty, and He’s changed the meek. He’s changed my life, and maybe He’s changed yours. But if He hasn’t, it can happen for you right now...Today...and then a song began:
(Sing) Something Beautiful, something good...all my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife...but He made something beautiful of my life.”
That’s the message the Church is called to offer to the world. It’s our mission statement and it’s not optional...it’s essential...It’s what makes ministry the most rewarding job in the world. Jesus still offers hope to lives that are hopeless messes.
In John’s gospel we find the story of a life that has been hopelessly messed up. It’s not the story of a kid that made a bad decision or two...It’s the story of a woman who has a lifetime of bad decisions. She has continually looked for love and security in relationships...and instead she’s found emptiness and loneliness. It’s the story of a woman who in her private moments feels overwhelmed with pain, because she never imagined her life reaching this place of desperation. Hardness has crept in to cover the shame and hurt. She doesn’t trust people because she can’t afford to. She tries to ignore the whispers and looks of judgment, but on many nights her pillow is soaked with tears because she believes no one cares or ever will. Is there any hope for her life to be different?
There is when God has
I. A DIVINE APPOINTMENT WITH HER
Our text begins, “Now Jesus had to go through Samaria.” (v. 4)
Really? Why’d we have to go through Samaria? Most Jews didn’t, they went around Samaria, avoided it like the plague. The Samaritans were half-breeds...hated by Jews, at least as much as the Israelites and Palestinians hate each other today! Getting Samaritan dirt on your feet was like walking through pig manure for most Jews.
So, why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
Because there was a divine appointment to keep...and appointment that will show the importance of people no one else will value.
Mike Yaconelli in Messy Spirituality writes...”Her life was parched, wilted and dry. She had 5 marriages and divorces. Each of these relationships began with the hope...“This is the one for me.” He’ll give me security...he’ll give me value. And one by one that hope vanished. One might have left her for another woman, one just got tired of all the fighting, maybe one abused her and she ran for her life. Even though the excuses were different, the results were the same...loneliness, failure, pain – These drove her to move in with the 6th guy without even making it legal. At this point who really cares?