“When we finally understand the gospel and come face to face with the reality of who Christ is, we worship Him through our witness.”
Over the past several years we have been working through a strategic series of topics on the Christian faith. In 2015 we talked about the transforming power of the gospel in the life of a believer. We talked about preaching the gospel to ourselves and sharing that within our families and Christian communities as a foundation for our witness in our surrounding communities. In 2016, we focused on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and found that by looking to Jesus we are given greater purpose, meaning, and clarity in life. Then, this past year, we focused on getting our worship right. We discovered that worship is more than the songs that we sing and it affects every aspect of our lives. This next year our focus will be on how to improve our witness.
The Northeast is the greatest mission field in the United States and as we think about how to reach our community for Christ, we will discover that our witness is a natural outflow of our understanding of the gospel, our relationship with Christ, and our worship of God.
Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in the Gospel of John gives us a great example to explore where we’ve been and where this next year will take us. So for the next several months, we are going to be looking at this story for inspiration, motivation, and exhortation to be a witness to what God has done in our lives.
Grappling with the Gospel
It didn’t take long for Jesus to bring the gospel into His conversation with the Samaritan woman. After a targeted request for her to give Him a drink of water, the woman calls into question Jesus’ intentions. He says He wants to offer her living water. Although this seems like an obscure analogy for the gospel message, it appears that the woman knows what He’s trying to do. She has pegged Jesus as a religious zealot and her response seems to try and deflect the conversation.
The woman did not see any need for help or change in her life. In fact, she seems willing to take what Jesus offers, so long as it meant that she wouldn’t have to change. But when Jesus confronts her by pointing out her broken and tattered life, it isn’t to beat her up and make her feel worse about her circumstances. Instead, He uses this to draw a contrast between her current state and the value that the gospel - the living water - could have in her life. The gospel is good news, but sometimes, seeing our helpless state is the only way to discover how good the news really is.
As if to deflect the personal probing into her life, the woman turns the gospel presentation into a debate over worship. Should they worship in Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim? In this statement she shows that she is not ignorant of religion. Before King David had brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, Shechem on Mount Gerizim had been where the Tabernacle of God had resided. The Samaritans had simply established their temple where the Tabernacle had been.
Jesus doesn’t allow the conversation to get stuck in the details, He gets to the heart of the matter by pointing out that God is searching for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. The geographical location was not the issue for this woman. She wasn’t worshipping God in either temple. In fact, Jesus, who is God in the flesh, was standing right in front of her and she wasn’t worshipping Him.
For this woman, worship was tied to a location and going through the motions of religious activity, but this level of worship hadn’t affected her life. She was still troubled, still broken, and still falling apart. Instead of hearing the good news and bowing down and worshipping her savior, she was making excuses for her way of life.
Coming Face To Face With Jesus
As the conversation with the Samaritan woman and Jesus came to a close, she finally admits what is at the core of everyone’s need: we are all waiting for someone to fix us and make things right. We are looking for a savior. It was at this point Jesus responds without hesitation, “I who speak to you am He.”
These words alone have such great power that they were enough to open her eyes to the truth. Nothing Jesus had said previously carried this level of weight and authority. The Gospel of John includes many of Jesus’ “I Am” statements. He is the bread of life, the light of the world, the door, the way, truth and life. Yet, this is the only time Jesus ever outrightly claimed to be the Messiah. It was such a simple statement. There was no apologetical argument on the legitimacy of His claim to be the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets. He simply says, “I am your savior.” These words changed her life.
The power of Jesus’ claim not only has an immediate effect on the heart of this woman, but it propels her to express her joy through her witness. Remember, this woman had been coming out to the well during the heat of the day to avoid interacting with those in her community. Now, all of a sudden she became an evangelist. She rushes back into the city and boldly proclaims, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
This is what happens when Christ captures our hearts. When we finally understand the gospel and come face to face with the reality of who Christ is, we worship Him through our witness. Anyone whose life has been transformed cannot hide it and they do not keep it to
Over this past year, I started to focus on my health and diet. I lost 40 pounds. It was a noticeable transformation. People will come up to me and ask me how I’ve changed and I’m excited to tell them what I’ve learned about dieting and exercise. How much more excited are we about the transformation Christ has
accomplished in our lives?
This Samaritan woman was brimming with new life and she couldn’t contain it. Her shame no longer held her back because her life had been transformed. No one had to tell her what to do or how to do it. She invited people to look at her life and examine her when she said, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.” And then she simply relayed the message that had changed her life, “Can this be the Christ?”
I was saved at the age of six. It took me a while to understand the plan of salvation, but once I understood it, I was determined to win all of my friends for Christ. During sleepovers, I wouldn’t let my friends fall asleep until they had agreed to say the sinner’s prayer. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew my life had been changed and I wanted everyone around me to share my newfound joy.
Our witness is crucial but it can’t be cultivated by mere force and compulsion. It must come from our understanding of the gospel in our own lives, our personal encounter with Jesus Christ, and our sold-out devotion in worship to the God of our salvation. Then, we will all be witnesses in New England, the Northeast, and to the end of the earth.
Rev. Adam Miller is the President and Host of Songtime and can be heard daily on the Songtime Radio Broadcast.
To find listings on your local radio or listen online, visit our website at www.songtime.com