Come and See - John 4
Prayer: Creator God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
Thank you for Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Open our ears in this time of worship. Speak to us through the gospel story we have just heard. Give us the desire for the living waters you offer and enable us to share that water with others - as Jesus Christ our Lord did. Amen.
Psychologist John Valusek encourages us to think of our self as if it were a bucket. How we feel and how we behave depends upon how much or how little we have in our buckets. If our bucket is overflowing, we will feel joy, have energy, and look forward to each day with enthusiasm. We will radiate warmth, be tolerant, forgiving, understanding, and want to give to others.
If our buckets are empty, which happens occasionally for almost everyone, we will feel and display very different characteristics. We will feel depressed, have little energy, and dread the coming of the next day. We will be unhappy, bitter, complaining, and non-supporting of others. We will have little to share. We will whine and feel miserably about ourselves, perhaps proclaiming: "Life is lousy, purposeless, and hopeless."
When our buckets are empty, we may not feel good when we see another person whose bucket is full, and we may try to take some of their water. We may criticize, gossip, or put that person down, thinking it will fill our bucket. But it doesn't. Or we may go after material possessions, pleasure, money, and success, thinking that will fill our emptiness. And it may seem to do that for a while, but it's not lasting.
As a young man, Augustine, one of the historical fathers of the church, tried to fill the void in his life. He tried to fill his bucket by chasing after wine, women, and song.
Later he confessed, "Lord, thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."
How do we rest in God? Many of our lives are so busy and hectic. We're busy going places and doing things. It's so easy to be constantly on the go-
going to church
going to meetings
going to help someone
going to children's activities
going to work -
going, going, going.
How can we slow down our busy lifestyles and taste some living water? How can we experience another way of living, a way that is more simple, more peaceful, more fulfilling?
The woman in our story got her bucket filled. In the first part of John 4, we find her trudging out to the well - at high noon - in the heat of the day. The usual time when women went to the well was toward evening, when it was cooler. Why was she going at the hottest time of day? Was her life hectic and disorganized? From verse 18, we learn that she had five husbands and the man she was presently living with was not her husband. Was she ashamed of the way she was living? Perhaps she didn't want to be at the well with other women - she may have feared they would look down their noses at her and make her feel badly about herself and the way she was living.
Whatever the reason-it's high noon-and we find the woman, bucket empty, moving toward the well. It's at the well that she gets the bucket within herself filled. How does that happen? She has time with Jesus. What does Jesus do?
First, Jesus accepts her - a woman - a Samaritan - a person who has made wrong choices, who has goofed up her life.
Jesus' bucket was full. Remember that before he started his ministry, he had heard the words of God, "This is my beloved son." Jesus sensed his own belovedness.
His bucket was full. Thus, he could pass on that love to the woman. He talked to her; he listened to her; he loved her; he gave her the message, "You, too, are a beloved child of God."
Second, Jesus shared the truth with the woman.
He talked to her about her lifestyle; he talked to her about the true way to worship God.
Third, Jesus gave her a life-giving mission.
Today Jesus looks out with compassion on all those people who needed another way of living. The woman had her bucket full, so she was ready to go. She had living water to share. She had been accepted as she was. She had been given truth, so she was ready to share it.
The woman had not completed a course in evangelism before she went out. She didn't have a seminary degree. She hadn't had a very long relationship with Jesus, but she made a very strong witness.
How did she do it? She went to her acquaintances and said, "Come and see.... Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could this be the Messiah?"
This woman didn't pretend to have all the answers. She didn't witness by giving a lot of answers to people who weren't even asking questions. No, she just invited them to "come and see."
Some of us are afraid of doing evangelism because we've been turned off by manipulative methods, we've heard stories of evangelism strategies that make us uncomfortable, or we simply don't feel qualified to share our faith.
There's a story in the book Sharing Living Water by Steve Clapp and Sam Detwiler which tells about a woman who moved into a new neighborhood. Shortly afterward, she met one of the older residents on the street. “Neighbor,” the older resident asked, “do you have salvation?” “Why no,” the woman said, “but I'm sometimes bothered by arthritis.” “No, I mean are you lost?” the older resident asked. “No, I'm not lost. I live right up the street.” “Well, tell me,” said the older resident, “are you ready for Judgment Day? It's coming real soon now. It may be tomorrow or the next day.” “No, I'm not,” replied the woman. “And for goodness sake, don't tell my husband about it; or he will want to go both days.”
Evangelism doesn't have to mean using confusing or misunderstood terms, like this older resident did. It can be more natural like it was for the woman at the well. The woman at the well simply said, “Come and see; come with me; come experience what I am experiencing.”
Today, we don't have the earthly Jesus the same way this woman had, but we have the church - Christ's body. You and I can bring someone here, and he or she can see Jesus through the people here.
One of the most effective ways of sharing our living water is just to say, “Come with me; come with me to my Bible study group or the Young Adults meeting; come with me to our worship service. Come with me to a special event we are having.”
Inviting others through our words and actions is very important. A Gallup poll taken of people who did not belong to any church asked: “Would you join a church?” More than 50% indicated they would. Then, when asked why they hadn't joined a church, the most common response was, “No one has asked me.”
Another study found that on any given Sunday, one out of four unchurched people would willingly attend a church service if a friend would invite them to do so. Being the church means to share what we experiened with the Messiah. The opportunities are endless:
Last night I had a phone call from one of the directors at Klassen Funeral Chapel. My immediate thoughts went to our sick list and I wondered if someone from our church had died. The Funeral Director asked me if I would be willing to officiate at the funeral service of an elderly man who had no church connections. He had ended his own life. At first I did not know what to say, but then I took down the number of a relative who was in charge of the arrangements to offer my services.
This man told me that he had not been to church for over twenty years, and that they don’t really expect anyone at the funeral, because they don’t have many friends, and the family is small.
I thought to myself, “what would be a greater testimony to the love of God than for the bereaved family to feel the support of a number of people from our church who would show up at the Funeral Chapel on Thursday at 11am, if for no other reason than to share with them that in Jesus Christ we have an unshakable hope for eternity.”
That is what it means to share living water…to shine the light of Christ in the darkness of a hopeless situation. That is what it means to be a witnessing church.
During the next 3 months our church will be providing an opportunity for learning how to be more natural, and effective at sharing our faith. Beginning this following week we will explore in our Bible studies what it means to invite others to “Come and see what Jesus Christ has done in our lives.” We hope that through this study our own buckets will be filled and, like the woman at the well, we will go out and share living water with others.
Let us pray:
Gracious God, thank you for inviting us to taste of your living water. Continue to fill us and empower us to share with others - as Jesus did. May our witness produce in others a thirst to come and see what Christ has done in our lives. Amen.