God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; John 4:4-26
11 April 2015Posted by on
This coming Sunday (April 12, 2015) we will gather for worship @ Worton UMC @ 9:45. At 10 am, the communities of Christ and First UMCs will gather together for worship in the Sanctuary of First UMC.
Scriptures for this week are: John 4:4-26. You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV
Before we begin, I want to thank Nivek Johnson from Janes United Methodist church. It is his reflection at the Seven Last Words service at Potter’s House that gave me the idea and inspiration for today’s message.
And I want to start today’s message with this simple question, “Are we drinking from the wrong well?” The answer to this question is neither simple nor obvious; and considering what our church communities are striving to accomplish, considering how our church communities are trying to be in shared mission, it is of vital importance that we get the correct answer.
So, “Are we drinking from the wrong well?”
The woman in today’s story (John 4:4-42) was neither soft-spoken nor well-mannered. She had a reputation for getting involved in toxic relationships; she had difficulty fitting in and making friends. Hers is the story of an angry, frustrated soul that believed that the best defense is a good offence. Her story challenges us, the followers of Jesus, to seriously look at our own lives and ask ourselves some tough questions.
Prior to encountering Jesus, the woman was an outcast. That is why she had to go to the well in the heat of the day instead of in the cool of the morning; more than likely her neighbors shunned her. We know that she was angry and argumentative; she even tried to start an argument with Jesus (John 4:9). When Jesus asked her for a drink, her response was, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
We know that she had a shady past (John 4:16-18). We learn fairly quickly that she had six failed relationships. We don’t know any particulars; was she having the same relationship with six different men? Did she have difficulties in navigating life? Did she want everything done her way or else? We simply do not know.
All that did not stop her from recognizing that Jesus was NOT an ordinary man, or stop her from making a profession of faith, “I can see that you are a prophet” (John 4:19). Even after making that confession, she tried to pick another fight with Jesus, arguing about the proper place to worship God. In verse 20, she said, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus tested her to see if she was sincere in her desire to turn her life around. He asked her to go to the village and bring back her husband. Only after being sure that she was honest with him did Jesus reveal his true identity to her. In essence, Jesus offered her the “living waters” of faith. In turn that faith became a “spring of water welling up to eternal life” in her (John 4:15).
John writes, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers” (John 4:39-41).
It is easy for us to get a judgmental attitude about the woman. We can focus on her aggressiveness, her anger, her inability to maintain relationships (as in “my way or the highway”). But the truth is that most of us have been in her shoes at one time or another. How many of us have tried to reach a certain goal only to fail time, after time, after time; becoming bitter and angry, and stopped trying, blaming everyone for our failure? How many of us have tried to quit smoking 5 or 6 times? How many of us have tried 5 or 6 different diets? How many of us have had 5 or 6 different jobs?
What we know is that her encounter with Jesus changed her. Once she figured out how to drink the living waters of faith her life was changed. She has the honor to be the first evangelist in the Gospel of John; the first one to go around town telling people about Jesus. We don’t know her name; it is not recorded in the Scriptures. Traditionally her Greek name is Photina (the same root as photosynthesis); her Slavic name is Svetlana (“svet” translates as “the light”); her traditional name reflects her encounter with Jesus and her seeing the light of faith. We can learn a lot from her.
How many of us spend our lives drinking out of the wrong well by setting wrong goals and then wondering why our lives do not work out the way we hope them to? Who among us has not dreamt of having a better relationship with our loved ones, a new car, or a nice boat, or the latest TV, or going on a nice vacation? The truth is that there is nothing wrong with wanting nice things from life. Where we get into trouble is when we want these things so bad that we go through heroic measures to attain them at THE EXPENSE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND WITH OUR LOVED ONES. That is how we drink from the wrong well: we ignore God and let go of our relationships. We isolate ourselves as we put the wrong things first. We pass tests and somehow we end up with no testimony (Nivek Johnson).
Oscar Wilde said once that “every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” What separated the woman at the well from her future is that she drank from the wrong well. Once she found the right well to drink from, the living water of faith, her life was transformed. As our churches look towards working closer together, what well are we drinking from? Are we working together just to share expenses and save money, or are we working together because it will help us to have a more effective ministry in our community and beyond, to help us make disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world. What well are we drinking from?
This is the question our communities need to answer in the months to come.
Do you prevent abundant life from reaching you in the future by drinking from the wrong well today?
“I Thirst”. By Nivek Johnson. Preached by Nivek Johnson. Potter’s House Ministries Church, Fairlee. 03 04 2015. Sermon.