Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You Are Welcome Here

As you may or may not have known, I went to a Christian convention last Christmas (2009) called Urbana in St Louis, Illinois. While here, the 18000 of us all studied part of the Bible: John chapters 1-4. We didn't skim it or only read what parts we wanted to; we read the entire thing word-for-word. This way, we were able to soak up the entire message conveyed to us. John 4 really stood out to me recently. I wanted to share a bit of what I learned with you today.

Jesus was a Jew, if you recall, and Jews did not get along well with Samaritans. You would never ever see a Jew conversing with a Samaritan. It just didn't happen. Jesus needed to get back to Galilee, and instead of finding an alternate route he walked right on through Samaria. By now it was noontime, the hottest time of day, so nobody would dare go out into the sun. Jesus was there, wanting to drink water from a well, and he met a Samaritan woman who was also there to draw water from the well. Thirsty Jesus asked the woman to get him a drink of water. She was shocked that he was talking to her. First of all, Jesus was breaking down social barriers here, being a Jew and talking to a Samaritan. He wants to show us that he doesn’t care who you are or where you came from, but his love will extend to anyone who is willing to accept it.

Moving on, he asks her for a drink, she wonders why he asked her. He makes a statement we will review later. But now, he tells her to go call her husband, to which she replies “I have no husband.” Jesus confirms this, knowing that she didn’t have a husband, but that in the past she had five husbands, all of whom she divorced, and that now she is living with a man who is not her husband. This is another barrier Jesus broke down. The woman was at the well at noon when nobody else would be out because she was shunned by her community. Everyone else would go in the early morning or late afternoon when it was cooler, but she had to go in the middle of the day. Any person, Jew or Samaritan or otherwise, would frown upon the fact that not only has she had multiple marriages, but she is living with someone who is not her husband! Jesus takes her in anyways, a five-time divorced Samaritan woman. He doesn’t care; he still wants to show her God’s love, kindness, and mercy.

Now the message: Jesus tells the woman that anyone who drinks from his fountain will not thirst ever again, that is, anyone who follows him will be forever satisfied and all their needs taken care of. Jesus also warns her about the future, that soon it will not matter how you worship or when you worship or where you worship or even who you are to worship. It just matters that you worship fully and honestly to the Lord our God.

“It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” –John 4:23-24

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