Friday, June 17, 2005

Rope & Bucket - John 4

Recently while reading John 4 I had a thought.
The first 42 verses of John 4 tell the story of the Samaritan woman who Jesus meets at the well outside the town of Sychar. It is a very well know story to Christians because it is often repeated for a variety of reasons.
It shows Jesus acceptance of all people.
It gives a clear picture of Jesus' purpose for coming to our planet.
It shows that when we meet Jesus he offers us something we had been longing for but didn't know how to find.
It shows the passion that Jesus has for saving the lost.
It is the first story of personal evangelism after conversion.
It one of the few times that Jesus says clearly that he is the Messiah.
But, there is a hidden gem in the opening dialogue. After asking for a drink and being chastised for talking to a Samaritan woman (two strikes against her) Jesus offers the woman "living water." She immediately sees the imposiblity of Jesus' offer. How can he offer her water? He doesn't have the tools or the knowledge to do what he says.

John 4:11
"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

The woman didn't know the meaning of "living" as Jesus was using it. Therefore she assumed the meaning of "water" was exactly what she had always known it to mean. But, the adjective changed everything! In her limited understanding of what Jesus was talking about she could see that he needed a few things before he could deliver water to anyone. First he needed a rope, then he needed a bucket. And it better be a long rope - because the well was deep! Because he didn't have these things he must be using a different water source... so she asks where he's getting his water.
Her comments are perfectly reasonable. She sees Jesus' need - he needs a bucket. he needs a rope. or he needs a different water source. What she doesn't see is the meaning of his previous words.

John 4:10
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

Once Jesus explained who he was what he meant by living water she was a new person. She was changed forever! And her understanding of living water no longer required a rope or a bucket. She had taken a long full drink of living water once she recognised the source!

With the drastic change in mind that happened to this woman I would like to throw a different two word phrase at you. One that meets us where we are today. One that would change us completely if we understood the meaning of the words.

Christian Church

What have we done to the church Jesus started? Where has the church the disciples grew in a matter of months gone? What has happened to the eveangelistic zeal and effectiveness of the woman at the well, the apostles, and the early church? The answer to all these questions can be found in our definition of Church. We have turned the church into a location, a group of people... Both incomplete definitions by a long shot. What is the Church really?
What about the word Christian? What has that word's definition degenerated into? A group of people (a club, clique, group, society)... a moral lifestyle that leads to healthy living and healthy relationships... What is a Christian really?
What should happen when we combine the words Christian and Church? If we were truly Christian (literally "Little Christs") what would the church be? A building? A group of people? Or would it be known for it's character rather than it's location and members?
Once the Samaritan woman understood the full meaning of Living Water she ran to her friends, family and enemies - the whole town! - and lead them to the Living Water!
I believe that once we understand the full meaning of Christian Church we will run into the world and find anyone and everyone we can and bring them to the home, heart and body of Christ!

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