There once was a woman. Many people thought this woman was scummy. She was promiscuous to say the least. Her fifth marriage had failed, and now she was with a man who was not her husband (cultural taboo in her town). I think it’s safe to assume that she felt lost, alone, hopeless. She was an outcast in her town, a town in a region that was outcasted in the area- an outcast of the outcasted. She isolated herself, feeling like a burden to those around her. She would often go to the town’s well in the hottest part of the afternoon knowing she would not see anyone there- who would want to draw water with the sun beating down on their neck?
I imagine her walking up the hill to the well, lost in her own thoughts of self-worth. Glancing up, she stops dead in her tracks when she sees a man sitting at the well. She quickly argues with herself, wondering if she should turn around or draw water. Deciding on the latter, she hastily walks forward, keeping her eyes on her feet. She could feel his gaze on her face, causing heat to flush her neck and cheeks. Steeling herself, she glances at him again, this time noticing that he is a Jew. What is a Jew doing here, in Samaria? Her heart going for a run, she draws water as fast as she can, wanting nothing more than to be away from this situation.
Then he asks her for a drink, making her fumble with her jar. A Jew asking a Samaritan woman for a drink? Jews do not associate with Samaritans, and men do not talk to women, especially women with her reputation. As they talk, she can tell that this man is different. He knows details of her life, details she has told no one. Suddenly, it clicks. This man is Jesus, the Messiah. Completely forgetting about her jar, she ran back to the town, choosing her steps carefully so as not to trip. I can also see the lies being left behind as she ran. Unloveable. Broken beyond repair. Scum. Burden. All insecurities, all fears, all hesitation left with her jar at the well, she runs.
As she runs into the village, I imagine people backing away, alarmed. Realizing who this woman was, I’m sure they began to turn away, disgust and shame in their gaze. But something made them pause, made they turn back and listen to what she was saying. For some reason, the town that outcasted her heard what she had to say. Perhaps it was the passion in her voice. Maybe the words she was saying. Either way the people were intrigued; they wanted to know more. They listened, and they followed. She led them back to the well, to the man who knew more about her than she knew about herself.
This woman- broken, lonely, isolated, outcast- led an entire town to know Christ. Because of her boldness and courage to share her testimony, her experience with Jesus, so many people were led into freedom and love.
We have so much to learn from her example.
How often do I look at my own experiences with Jesus and think they’re boring or not transformative enough to impact someone? How often do I underestimate the power that resides in my testimony? I’m certain I am not alone in that.
The fact of the matter is that this is one of many excuses to not share the gospel.
- I’m too new.
- I don’t know enough.
- I need to clean myself up first.
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t want to offend anyone.
- This person isn’t going to listen to me; they don’t care.
- It’s going to be so awkward.
- Someone else will tell this person about Jesus.
I’m just going to be blunt. Those excuses are just that: excuses. As the church, we are responsible for the spiritual health of the community surrounding us. We have heard the good news; we have experienced the abundant love and freedom; we have lived the life of an heir. There are people in the world who haven’t experienced what we have, who don’t know what we know. Why would we let an awkward encounter or our own insecurities stop us from doing what the Lord has called us to do?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 18-20
It boils down to this: do you truly believe the truth in these verses? Do you believe in the depth of your heart that He is with you always which means all authority in heaven and on earth is also with you?
If you believe that, what is there to be afraid of?
The Samaritan woman didn’t go to seminary. She didn’t have answers. She didn’t have time to clean up her life or even her appearance. In fact, she probably knew Jesus for half an hour maximum.
So let’s challenge each other to run toward people, proclaiming the goodness of God, the character of Jesus. We don’t have to have every answer or clean up our mess. We just need to talk about Him, share the incredible things we see Him doing, the things He is teaching us.
Ask Him for boldness and courage. Show people His love.