Summary: A look inwards at our spiritual life.
A few weeks ago, Margaret was stood up here preaching a sermon based on the second beatitude. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” In our reading today, we heard Jesus stating exactly how that filling takes place. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Aren’t those wonderful words ‘ a spring of water welling up to eternal life’?
Unfortunately, if you are like me, there are many times in your life when that spring of water does not seem to well up very much. There are times when it hardly seems to trickle, and occasionally you may even find it hard to see a few drops of this life giving water. What happens when things get like this? It wasn’t always this way in our lives. I became a Christian when I was sixteen, and I can still remember what it felt like at that time to have that spring of living water running through me. You could not stop me worshipping God, witnessing to others and everything else. But slowly things changed, and the water slowed down. It has always been there, but it has not always been so noticeable in my life.
When you read this story of the woman at the well, you will find spiritual movement in three different directions. The first movement begins with this water inside of us, the second moves towards God. Some people say that this woman was trying to put Jesus off when she started talking about worship. She was getting uncomfortable with the things Jesus was telling her, and so brought up this great disagreement that Jews and Samaritans had been having for years about worship. I am not sure, however, that this is the right way to interpret this story. It makes a lot more sense to me to think of this as a natural progression rather than an attempt to change the subject. Jesus has just said how accepting Him as Lord can make an incredible difference to this woman’s life, and what is more natural after that than going on to talk about worship. Think back to the time when you accepted Jesus as Lord, was it possible for you not to worship God as soon as you had done that? If this were possible, I would question whether you have truly accepted His Lordship over your life.
The final movement is seen when the disciples return with the food they have bought. We read in John 4:28: “ Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" and then in verse 39: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So the third movement goes out to others, we become witnesses to Christ.
First – inwards with that spring of water, then upwards with worship to God, and finally outwards as we witness to others; these three movements should describe our Christian lives; there is nothing else that needs to happen.
But many times, as I have said, it is not like this; we start in this way but often find it hard to continue like this. Where do we look for help if this has happened in our lives? I have mentioned about the three movements involved in the Christian life, is it something we are doing wrong in the way we witness? Could it be the upward movement that has gone wrong, is it our worship of God that causes us to lose this Christian life we experienced when we first believed? Or is it something else?
Just imagine for a moment that it is spring again. You have bought a pack of flower seeds to sow in your garden. The pack states clearly “fifty seeds”, so you sow these fifty seeds and what happens – you get maybe twenty or thirty flowers growing from them. What has happened to the other twenty or thirty seeds? Why didn’t they grow, as they should have done? Was it something in the earth that stopped them, of course it wasn’t, for enough seeds did grow to show that was not the case. The answer can only be that there was some problem inside the seeds themselves that prevented their growth.
If we are in this position of having lost something of that first love that we had for Christ, if we no longer worship and witness as we used to, the problem is not usually with our worship and our witness for these are the outer movements similar to when that seedling breaks through the soil. The problem starts inside us within that place where the spring of water has its source.