Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Thirsty!

How many times as a parent have we heard our child proclaim, "I'm thirsty!"? It can happen of anytime of the day...or night. Sometimes their call is not really because there is some physiological need, but rather one of a more psychological or sociological need. There is the declaration of their thirst that derives from the need to be close to us, or the need just to have something to do, like drink a soda.

I was reading last week about a child that approached their grandma with the declaration that they were hungry, but when the grandma offered them a number of good food options, they turned them all down, to which the grandma wisely responded, "Well then I guess you're really not hungry, or more likely just bored." And as any good parent should know, food is not a good way to satiate boredom.

This week's passage is John 4:1-38, the encounter between a thirsty Jesus and a water-drawing woman of Samaria. In this powerful, but gracious, encounter we watch Jesus strip away the various defenses and devices that the woman uses in order to help her see where her true thirst lays.

There are lots of "sermons" in this passage, some which I hope to discuss in my present sermon series, "Changing Our World for Good," but what is grabbing my attention right now is the need we have to help our culture discern its "thirsts." Too often, I believe that people do not respond to the message of the Gospel because they are thirsting for the wrong thing. It's like going out for a five mile run and thinking that a Pepsi is going to quench your thirst, when really the best thing is simple clear, cool water.

It's a problem that the church must deal with if we are to continue to bring the life-giving water of our Lord to the masses. I think that often we offer what people want (like the child mentioned above) rather than what they truly need, that which will really quench their thirst.

To solve this we need to know what people are thirsty for, and also we need to know that which will best serve the deep thirst. We also need to know how to help them get their buckets to the bottom of the well so that they will be able to draw from the life-giving water that is Jesus.

So, there my friend, are some questions for us to dwell upon:
1) For what do people thirst and how does this thirst mask their really need?
2) How can we get them to the well, when they may not even know it is there for them?
3) How is the Living Water, the true thirst-quencher they need?
4) How can we give them the tools to reach the bottom of the well where the living water flows?

Ideas?

May the Lord, who is the Living Water, quench the thirst of your soul.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think one of the bests evangelistic examples I have ever read about is Jesus at the well where he talked to the samaritan woman.

I notice he did not go up to her and say, “Hi, my name is Jesus and I have good news for you. You are a sinner and destined to die for your sins. However, I am the messiah and if you put your faith in me, I can save you if you want to be saved.”

Instead he started out the conversation by literally shocking her. Jews didn’t associated with Samaritans and to make matters worse, she was a woman and not even a woman of high moral standards. But it didn’t seem to matter to this man. Without the slightest hint of the typical Jewish self-righteous attitude, he continued to treat her like she was a person who should be treated with dignity and respect. That alone blew her mind.

So she asked him point blank why he was asking her, a Samaritan to draw him water?

He then picqued her curiosity by hinting that really if she knew the gift of God, she would ask him for a drink and get living water.

He did not go on and on about salvation or her need for it or rush her in any way. They definitely had a two way conversation going here. Only after she demostrated that she was receptive by continuing to ask him questions, did he speak again. Had she shown no interest, just stared at him, or tried to change the subject, I doubt very much he would have continued witnessing to her.

But she was asking questions so he eased into revealing not her flaws, not her sins, but the fact that everone who drank the water from that well would thirst again, but that he could give someone water that would become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

He was not the least bit domineering or pushy. Not at all. Instead he allowed the Holy Spirit to draw this woman into the kingdom.

Finally, she could stand it no more. I doubt that at this point she was even sure what this man was really talking about? She seemed fairly confused. I believe the only thing she really knew for certain is that for some reason she did not feel like the scum of the earth in this man’s presence so she decided whatever this man had to offer, she wanted. Finally, she just blurted out, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here for water.”

Then and only then did he mention the fact that she had had quite a few husbands and was currently living with a man she wasn’t married to. Yet once again, he did not do so in a condeming manner. Truly, this Jesus had come into the world to save the world, not to condemn the world. He was in a word, quite gracious.

So perhaps our attitudes are the most important evangelical tool we can acquire. We need to (each of us as individuals) stamp out every ounce of self-righteousness at the same time being careful not to discard discernment.

gentledove

P.S. Happy New Year!