Summary: In a society where everyone makes up their own religion, Jesus offers the only religion that can quench a thirsty soul.


This morning, I want to introduce to you, two people – not made up, but real, live people whom I have met in the past year. First, there’s Phil. Phil works in Michigan City, and when he found out that I was a pastor, he wanted to talk religion. Phil used to go to a Lutheran church, but now he doesn’t go anywhere. “I’m still a Christian,” Phil says. “But I don’t really believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven – there’s lots of ways – to each his own.” That’s Phil.

Then there’s Carrie. Carrie has an uncle who’s a Lutheran pastor. Carrie describes herself as someone who is not really religious. “But I am a Christian,” Carrie says. “I believe in God, that there is a God.” That’s Carrie.

Both of them believe that they are Christians. But what really is Christianity? Christianity is the religion of Jesus Christ. Christianity focuses on Jesus Christ, and all the things that Jesus Christ said and did. That’s Christianity. The first person I mentioned to you, Phil – he’s not a follower of Christianity. Phil is making up his own religion – a vague belief in God and other things. That’s not Christianity. That’s the religion of “Phil-ism.” Whatever Phil says, that’s what’s true.

Carrie believes that she’s following Christianity, but in reality, she’s not. Carrie’s also making up her own religion as she goes through life, the religion of “Carrie-ism.” Whatever Carrie says, that’s what’s true.

Many, many Americans are caught in this trap. Believing that you are a Christian, but in reality, you aren’t. Christianity is the religion of Jesus Christ. What he said. What he did. Many people aren’t following Christianity, but the religion of “Me-ism.” Whatever is true for me, whatever I make up in my head, that’s my religion.

My friends, I’m not up here today to lambaste all those people, because, in many ways, all of us are plagued with “Me-ism” – the religion of me – whatever I like, whatever I think is true, that’s what I believe.

What is it like for the soul of a person who is trapped in “Me-ism,” or “Phil-ism,” or “Carrie-ism”? What do you think Phil’s soul looks like, as he follows the religion of Philism? Or how about Carrie’s soul? Those are souls that are dying, or maybe already dead, from spiritual thirst. A thirsty soul is a soul that wants to learn the truth about God, that wants to worship the true God. A thirsty soul is a soul that wants to have a real relationship with God. Just imagine some of those sad pictures you see, pictures of starving children in Asia and Africa – those poor children who are nothing but skin and bones, barely surviving – some of them barely alive, or not even alive at all. That’s what a thirsty soul looks like, a soul that needs God, but instead is given nothing, but Philism, or Carrie-ism, or Me-ism.

This morning, we learn how Jesus can quench a thirsty soul, how he can satisfy your soul. Today we’re going to take a look at spiritual thirst. We’re also going to take a look at living water.

We meet a Samaritan woman today, who had a very thirsty soul. “ I believe in God, and that a Messiah is coming. I’m not sure why exactly the Messiah is coming, but I do know that he’ll be some sort of teacher or prophet. But I’m not a very religion person. There’s too much arguing between our religious leaders and the Jews over where to worship. The Jews say, “Worship by us!” Our religious leaders say, “No, worship by us!” All that arguing frustrates me, so I stay away from religion.”

A thirsty soul! She goes on to say, “I have a pretty bad past. I’ve been married five times. And now, I’m living with someone. I know that what I do is wrong. I don’t need you to tell me that. I’m going out to the well to get some water now. Nobody ever comes with me, because everyone knows about me. I’m an outcast, and I deserve it.” Here we see the Samaritan woman – a thirsty soul, looking for satisfaction in life in all the wrong places. She has a vague belief in God, lax morals – very similar to our society today!

“There’s a Jewish man at the well. I’ll just ignore him. Jews don’t like us. And we don’t like them. Plus, he’s a man.” But this stranger surprises her: “Will you give me a drink?” he asks. That’s strange: “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” The stranger replies: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” Living water? This Jewish stranger talks like a rabbi, a teacher. Living water?

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