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A couple of weeks ago, we studied John 4 for our Sunday school time at church. A couple of things in the passage really encouraged me and gave me some good reminders, so I thought I’d share them with you today.
[Jesus] left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
And he must needs go through Samaria.
Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
John 4:3-15 KJV
There are a lot of places one could go with this passage, like what the significance of Samaria was, and what kind of life this woman was leading, but what really blessed me was the way Jesus went about “evangelizing”. I think that Christians today too often follow one of two evangelistic extremes: either they don’t say anything about their beliefs for fear of being politically incorrect, or they see evangelizing as something to be accomplished at any cost – a duty to perform, a thing to do. Jesus shows us a totally different approach.
So Jesus comes up to this well. He asks a woman there for a drink. A conversation is started, which turns spiritual after awhile. The woman realizes that Jesus has something that she wants in her own life. I’d call that a successful witnessing experience. How did Jesus do it?
He made small talk. Jesus’ opening line was not confrontational. He merely asked for a drink of water.
Jesus assigned value to this woman by conversing with her. As the woman herself says in this passage, Jews generally looked down on Samaritans to the point of ignoring them. Jesus bridged the cultural gap by conversing with the woman in a kind fashion. She responded with more conversation that eventually led to spiritual matters.
Jesus asked the woman for something He needed that she could offer. This was another way of assigning value to the Samaritan woman which in turn caused her to drop her defenses and be open to conversation. Think about it for yourself: doesn’t it feel good when someone asks for your help with something? It means he thinks that you’re capable.
He got her to ask a question. This is one of the best ways to go about witnessing. Say or do something to make someone ask a question because if he asks, he’s kind of obligated to listen to your explanation. In this case, the mere fact that Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman made her question why? In my daily life, there are a couple of things that come to mind that should be making people ask me questions:
- My clothing – I don’t dress this way because my church says to. Sure, that factors in because of submission to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but it goes far beyond that for me. I dress the way I do first and foremost because I want to obey God’s call for modesty and gender distinction. Are there other ways to dress that can fulfill both of those mandates? Absolutely, but I also dress the way I do because it makes people take a second glance and ask, “Why do you dress like that?” Then I can tell them about God, how He designed the world to function, how mankind messed up the perfection that God created, and how God planned a redemption.
- My language – I believe that God cares deeply about what we say, and in this case I’m not just talking about curse words, although that’s definitely part of it. Gossip and slander are just as harmful as dirty language. Believe me, people will notice what you do and don’t say. If they hear corrupt things coming out of your mouth, why would they want what you have? On the flip side, if all you ever say is edifying things, even about people who have wronged you, people will have a reason to ask, “How can you always speak kindly about the most annoying people in your life?” or “Why do I never hear you cursing?”(Exodus 20:7 – “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain”; Ephesians 5:4 – “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks”; Titus 3:2 – “To speak evil of no man”)
- My smile – smiling at people makes you look approachable. Make it a game to go through Walmart and see how many people you can make eye contact with and smile at. This is really hard for me to do (#introvert), but it’s such a good exercise for me! On the same token, learn to be conscious of your facial expressions. Walking around with a drawn, exasperated look on your face is not a good testimony. Again, why would the world want what you’re trying to sell if you look like a sourpuss? Smooth that forehead! Plus, a pleasant expression will save you some wrinkles in the long run. And don’t be in a hurry. Even if you are in a hurry. Trust God to take care of your schedule for the rest of the day if He calls you to stop and talk to someone. I’m a work in progress on all of these!
- My response to a greeting – When someone asks, “How are you?”, that’s a question in and of its own! Be honest! A good response could be, “I am blessed.” Or if your day isn’t going so great you could say something like, “Well, today hasn’t gone so well, but God is good.” And then remember to smile. Little responses in daily conversation can provoke questions from people who are curious about how you can be so at peace. Along the same lines, don’t be hesitant to attribute praise to God for little things. If someone says, “It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it?”, a thought-provoking response could be, “It sure is; God knew we needed some sunshine!” A well-placed “Praise the Lord!” never hurts. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re praying for them either, even strangers. “I’m praying that you’ll have a blessed day” could be a lead-in for the cashier at Dollar General to ask you to pray for something specific in her life.
We are given so many opportunities to witness in our daily walk. I know I personally miss so many of them. Let’s be intentional about what we do! Live life to provoke questions. Soli Deo Gloria.