Zika Virus and God’s Compassion How God Responds When His People Cry Out

Usually when there’s an outbreak like the one happening now with the Zika virus, I don’t fret much.  Why?  Because it doesn’t usually hit home with me.

Normally the outbreak is happening somewhere far away to people I may have little in common with.  If I’m honest, this says some things about me that make me ashamed.

First, I typically lack empathy for the suffering of my fellow human beings around the world.

Second, I only really care about things that have that “x factor” that makes me pat attention, and this isn’t a good thing.  There are any number of significant issues that deserve my attention happening all over the world.  But if they don’t rise to a certain level of interest and visibility with me, then I don’t care.

And third, this lack of interest on my part likely illustrates something about my perception of God as well.  At a subconscious level, perhaps I think God is similar to me.  Maybe only certain things reach his perception.  Maybe he only cares and responds to human pain based on a very particular set of criteria.

Thankfully, I’m wrong about all of this!  All human pain and suffering is worthy of attention and God certainly cares about each person who is hurting.

But in the case of the Zika virus, I have paid a bit more attention than usual.  Why?  Because babies are the ones bearing the brunt of this disaster and I’m the father of a one-year old!  Sadly, my attention to human suffering is contingent on said suffering’s connection to me and my situation.

But as I was reflecting on this  Zika virus outbreak, a particular part of a famous story from the Old Testament, the Exodus from Egypt, came to mind.

Zika Virus and the Exodus

I don’t know about you, but when I think about the Exodus, the first thing that typically comes to mind is Charlton Heston yelling “Let my people go!” in the classic movie The Ten Commandments.

But there’s a more important moment in the story of the Exodus that is easy to overlook.  I’ll show it to you in the Bible from the Book of Exodus chapter 2:

23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

The Israelites were suffering as slaves in Egypt, so they cried out to God.  God heard them, remembered his covenant with them, looked on them, and had compassion.

This easy-to-skip-over paragraph has huge implications for our understandings of God, especially when facing something scary like the Zika virus.

How Does God Respond When His People Cry Out?

  1. God Hears — We often wonder if our cries for help just hit the ceiling and reverberate back down at us.  But this passage from Exodus 2, like so many other passages from the Bible, reminds us that God does in fact hear us.  When we are in pain, when we are scared, and when we don’t know what to do, God hears us.  When the realities of the Zika virus and its explosive growth cause us great trepidation, God hears us.  And when any other things happen in our lives or in our world, no matter how big or small, God hears us.
  2. God Remembers — The idea of God remembering feels weird to our ears, especially those of us who typically think of God knowing everything.  If God knows everything, then how could he ever need to remember anything?  But the statement that God remembers is there for us, the readers.  It’s to remind us that no matter how bad things get, God has not forgotten his promises.  Even when there’s pain, death, and disease, God remembers his promises.  And even when the Zika virus put that most vulnerable among us at risk, God wants us to know that he remembers his promise to be with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28.20).
  3. God Sees — The ancient Israelites must have wondered if God was still looking after them.  In fact, I bet for some of them they were wondering if God even could see them.  But God’s eyes are always open.  He always looks in the direction of his creation.  There’s nothing that could turn his gaze away from us, not our sin, not our pain or humiliation, not slavery, and not even diseases like the Zika virus.  God sees.
  4. God is Concerned — God doesn’t just hear, remember, and see in some unfeeling, robot-like way.  He’s not just “up there” coldly keeping his end of bargains that he’s made.  No!  Instead God has deep concern for his people, especially as they are in pain.  When humans suffer, God feels great concern for them.  And he often goes into action on their behalf.  How?  Well, in most cases God sends some of his people to help.  In the case of the Exodus he sent Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and others.  Who is God sending to help with those who are suffering because of the Zika virus?

Friends, here’s my conviction: The victims of the Zika virus are crying out to God.  He hears, remembers, sees, and is concerned.  And he’s sending us!  Now he may be literally sending some of us to help!  But he is calling all of us to help as we can.

How can we help?  Here are a few ideas: 1) Ask your local church how they are going to respond and help out; 2) Keep your ears and eyes open to hear about opportunities to help humanitarian aid groups that will be helping with the Zika virus response, groups such as World Relief, The Red Cross, or The United Nations; and 3) Pray for the families and children impacted by the Zika virus.  Pray that God will heal, that the Church will rise up, and the peace and wholeness will be restored.  Pray for the governments of the countries most impacted, that they will be wise and lead well in a time of crisis.

 

What do you think? How does God respond to situations like the Zika virus outbreak?

#Judgment: New Wine Podcast #015

What is wrong with being judgmental and how does being judgmental impact our ability to follow Jesus well in the real world?

I answer this question in my latest podcast.  You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!

Curious? Curious Leadership and It's Results

“Many leaders are the ‘walking wounded,’ but their followers are the ‘sitting silent.'”  That’s a quote from the book Curious: The Unexpected Power of a Question-Led Life by Tom Hughes, Co-Lead Senior Pastor at Christian Assembly in Eagle Rock, CA (a city right around the corner from where I live).

curious

Curious: The Unexpected Power of a Question-Led Life by Tom Hughes

Linking Being Curious and Leadership

Curious is a great book and I highly recommend it!  There are many reasons why I like it but one of them stands behind the quote with which I started this post: healthy curiosity fuels good leadership.

But Tom also makes the point that a leader that is answer-driven instead of curiosity-driven will ultimately burn out, becoming the, as he calls it, the “walking wounded.”  And what’s the result of this kind of leadership?  Well, it isn’t good, that’s for sure!

The way Tom puts it is perfect: the “sitting silent.”  Leaders who try to answer all the questions will eventually burn out and produce passive followers.

And here’s the really odd thing (and this is my commentary now): Many of these burned out leaders blame their followers for their burned-out status and they blame them for not being a more active part of their business, church, etc.

This isn’t entirely fair.  Had the leader done his/her job from the beginning, namely leading from a place of humble curiosity and relentless authenticity, then he/she wouldn’t have to have every answer and his/her followers would be intrinsically compelled to be more active.

So, leaders, instead of complaining, let’s start leading from a place of curiosity!

 

What do you think?  What role can and should curiosity play for a leader?  And what do you think of the idea of the “walking wounded” producing the “sitting silent”?  Let me know in the comments below!

Proof and Faith What does evidence have to do with believing in Jesus?

“I want proof.”

So many of us say these words when confronted with the idea of God, much less the idea of following Jesus.  In order to make the existential jump of faith, most of us want some evidence.  At least a little.

But it doesn’t end with the beginning of a faith journey though, does it?  Nope.  Those of us who follow Jesus often want proof before we trust God with a new area of our lives, an important decision, etc.  We want an inkling of what God is up to before we fully hand over the reins.

Is this normal?  And is this okay?

Our Need for Proof

Not much needs to be said here.  The bald truth is that most of us humans are an un-trusting lot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  And un-examined faith is pretty boring.

But sometimes we can take our desire to hold definitive proof in our hands too far.  We can demand evidence that is so clear that it can’t be controverted.  This level of scrutiny is just silly.  We don’t ask for this kind of proof when we fall in love, flip the light switch, or buy food from a local grocery store.

But we often demand proof in this way when it comes to faith.  And I honestly think that’s okay.  It’s okay to need some level of confidence before going all in.  To do otherwise would be irresponsible after all!

In John 4.43-54 we read about an official who needs some proof for his faith too.  We see this in three stages, and these three stages I believe will sound familiar to many of us.

Faith in Jesus’ Potential

I’ve written a little bit about this official before, specifically about how even though he was privileged, Jesus cared for him.  But how did their interaction begin?  What was its genesis?

The story starts with this man having a sick child.  He’s probably at the end of his proverbial rope.  I imagine that he’s sought out the best care that a government official could afford.

Then he catches wind of the fact that Jesus was back in Galilee.  This is the same Jesus who had dome miraculous things in the area already.  So, based only on this potential, the official makes the trek from Capernaum to Cana to visit Jesus.  When he arrives, the official begs and pleads with Jesus to heal his son (v. 47).

I think this kind of faith is the kind of faith that helped many of us begin our journeys with Jesus.  We probably saw the difference that Jesus made in the life of someone we loved and we wanted some of that for ourselves.  That’s faith in Jesus’ potential.

The proof that we’re looking at is in the lives of the followers of Jesus, the transformations that they’ve experienced, etc.  But this faith in Jesus’ potential is only really the first step.  It’s believing in what Jesus did for someone else.  It’s the kind of faith that leads us to Jesus.

(As a quick aside, this is the attractional life idea that I talk about quite a bit on my blog and podcast.  If we live the human life of Jesus in our human lives, then our very lives will serve as proof of Jesus’ potential for others.  Our lives can be the catalysts that first lead people to Jesus!)

Faith in Jesus’ Words

Once the man’s faith in Jesus’ potential led him to Jesus, the official then was privileged to hear Jesus’ words with his own ears.  Jesus says to him “Go, your son will live” (v. 50).

And the official has faith in these words which he demonstrates be obeying Jesus’ command to go.  John puts it interestingly in v. 50: “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.”

Where was the proof though? you may ask.  And I don’t have a solid answer.  Once this official met Jesus, based on his potential, he must have experienced something of the force of Jesus’ personality.  He must have felt his love.  He must have caught the vibe of his wisdom.

How do we know this? Because even though Jesus’ first response to this man was cryptic and a bit odd (“Unless y’all see signs and wonders, y’all won’t believe” [v. 49]), the man still obeyed Jesus.

As followers of Jesus we must move beyond faith in Jesus’ potential to having faith in Jesus’ words.  And how do we demonstrate this faith?  Despite however unclear we think God may be most of the time, when we do have a clear call from him, we’ll take him at his word and obey.  That’s the kind of faith that trusts in Jesus’ words.

(As a quick aside, if we follow through on this step, we’ll start living the kind of lives that serve as proof of Jesus’ potential for others.  Think about it: Jesus clearly calls us to do some very appealing things: love our neighbors, love and pray for our enemies and those who oppose us, care for the outcast and under-resourced, etc.  If we did these things as followers of Jesus, people would be drawn to us instead of being repelled by us!  God doesn’t want us to obey because he needs us to as if he were some desperate autocrat!  He wants us to obey because in so doing we will further his will to reconcile all things to himself through Christ Jesus!)

Faith in Jesus’ Fulfilled Promises

Lastly, as this official is on his way home, in obedience to Jesus’ words, his servants meet him and tell him that his son has been healed.  Upon further investigation of the evidence, the official learns that the child was healed at the exact time Jesus said that he would live.

This promise of Jesus was fulfilled.  And people witnessed it.  Firstly, the child witnessed it.  Then the servants.  The rest of the family.  The rest of the household, including all those who worked with and for this official.  And John tells us that, based on the fact that Jesus’ promise was fulfilled, the entirety of this man’s household believed (v. 53).

This is amazing!  Jesus’ fulfilled promised served as proof for those of this man’s household.  They probably then heard the story about how the official obeyed, perhaps also inspiring them to learn to obey as well.  And as they obey, they’ll experience Jesus coming through on his promises, which, in turn, will inspire others.

That’s a cycle that I want to be a part of of!

(As a quick aside, let’s do this!  Let’s get turned on to Jesus, obey him, and then celebrate when his word comes to pass.  In so doing, we’ll serve as testimonies and proof of the potential of Jesus to change the lives of others!)

 

What do you think?  What role does proof play in having faith?  And how does our faith and obedience influence those who may be far from God?  Let me know in the comments below!

#Vision: New Wine Podcast #014

What is vision and what does it have to do with following Jesus well?

Melmak / Pixabay

I answer this question in my latest podcast.  You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!

Matt & Myron #003

We all need the good news, including those who follow Jesus already!

Following Jesus in the Real World What does this mean?

Following Jesus in the real world.  That’s a phrase that I use a lot on this website, on my podcast, and when I teach and preach.  But this phrase begs a ton of questions.

So, what does it mean to follow Jesus in the real world?

Let’s break it down!

FOLLOWING Jesus in the Real World

What does “following” mean in this context?  Well, to get a grip on that we have to have a basic understanding of what it meant when people were following Jesus in the first century.  What did it mean to follow someone in that day and age?

It’s certainly more than the way we use it when we ask someone who doesn’t know how to get to a destination to follow us.  That use implies a limited-time arrangement.  And it’s also much more robust than following someone on Twitter!

In the first century when someone would follow a teacher, rabbi, religious figure, or philosopher, that meant total devotion.  We see this when Peter, speaking for all the disciples who were following Jesus, said “We have left everything to follow you” (Mark 10.28).  Following Jesus caused a major disruption in their lives.  They couldn’t follow Jesus AND go about business as usual.

There’s something for us to learn there, isn’t there!?  We want to follow Jesus but not give up much to do so.  We think that following Jesus can be done while maintaining our selfish lives in more or less the same fashion.  This kind of “following” is more akin to Twitter than to what Jesus had in mind when he said “follow me” to the earliest disciples.

Though much more could be said about the notion of following, I want to focus on one more thing, namely that following Jesus is not passive.  Following Jesus is an active endeavor.  It’s not something that we do once years ago.  And it’s not something that only happens in our heads.  Nope!  Following Jesus is something that we do every single day.

Following in this way is disruptive and demanding.  It’s active and it requires all of us.

Following JESUS in the Real World

Who do we follow?  That answer’s easy, right?  Jesus!

But which Jesus?  Let’s be real for a second, we all want Jesus to be the kind of messiah that we want him to be.  If there’s something about the Jesus we meet in the Bible that extends beyond our comfortable messiah zone, we tend to ignore it or outright deny it.

And this is nothing new.  The disciples who first followed Jesus had this problem too.  Here’s Peter serving as a counter example again, this time in Mark 8.31-32:

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

Do you see it?  When Jesus said that he was going to suffer, be rejected, and ultimately die, this didn’t fit with Peter’s idea of who the messiah would be.  So Peter brashly decided to scold Jesus and tell him to get back into the comfortable messiah zone.

While it’s easy to scoff at Peter for his words here, don’t we all do the same thing today?  The Jesus we meet in the Bible doesn’t always line up with what we expect of him.

Maybe he focuses too much on the truth and sound ethical behavior for some of our likings.  And for others of us he may care too much about people who are marginalized, poor, and outcast.  And still others of us would prefer some vague disembodied notion of Jesus as our savior rather than the Second Person of the Trinity incarnated as a human that we meet in the Bible.

Friends, if we are to follow Jesus, then we are to follow the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of our individual creation, not the Jesus of our church’s or denomination’s creation, not the Jesus of our political bent’s creation, and not the Jesus of anyone else’s creation either.  Instead, let’s look to the Gospels to learn about Jesus.  That’s who we are to follow!

One of my favorite authors and missional practitioners is Hugh Halter.  In his book entitled Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation down to Earth, he famously (at least in my book!) said that being missional means being disciples that live the human life of Jesus in our human lives.

In other words, following Jesus isn’t a game of cherry picking where we choose the parts of Jesus we want to follow.

Following Jesus IN THE REAL WORLD

Equally as important as the words “following” and “Jesus” is the phrase “in the real world.”  Here’s why…

All too often those of us who claim to follow Jesus do so in a fantasy world.  Let me explain.

Many of us surround ourselves with a Christian bubble.  We listen to Christian music, read Christian books, see Christian movies, visit Christian websites, hang out only with Christian friends, and even eat Christian breath mints!

This bubble mentality has gotten so bad that in America today one in five non-Christians do not know a Christian personally.  That’s crazy!  In a country with 80+% of us identifying as Christians, how is it that 20% of those who aren’t Christians don’t know any of us.

The answer is simple.  Those who don’t follow Jesus yet aren’t seeking us out and those of us following Jesus aren’t seeking them out.  We’re all okay with this fake bubble world.

Or perhaps more of us than any of us would like to admit are functional agnostics, saying that we follow Jesus but going about our lives as if the reality of God isn’t important enough to make an impact on our lives.

But, friends, Jesus didn’t live in a bubble like this, nor did he not allow the reality of God to impact his life.

He engaged people in his world.  He understood the culture of the world well.  He didn’t shy away from relationships with less-than-desirable people (like Matthew the tax collector and Simon the zealot).  And when he went about his daily life, Jesus regularly engaged in conversation with people of all stripes, including the socially, economically, religiously, etc. outcast.

But it’s important to note that Jesus also personally interacted with people that he disagreed with.  He had face-to-face encounters with Pharisees, entering into personal dialogue with them and even eating with them.

Jesus wasn’t scared of the world!  In fact, he came to be the light of the world (John 8.12).  How could he shine his light into the world unless he entered into it and all its messy reality?

And we’re called to do the same!  Jesus has commissioned all of us (not just those who are full-time ministers) to share this light of Jesus with the world too (Matthew 28.19-20; Acts 1.8).

So let’s burst our Christian bubbles and go out there are follow Jesus in the real world!

Next Steps

So what?  What are we to do with all of this information?

  1. If you’ve never begun to follow Jesus, you can do so today!  I’d love to chat with you about that.  Please contact me by going to my “About” page.  Also, you can simply start reading about Jesus in the Gospels.  I highly recommend starting with the Gospel of Mark.  Here’s a website where you can begin today.  Here’s a further suggestion — read a paragraph or two of Mark at a time and then pause.  Ask yourself these questions: What did I like about that?  What did I not like?  What’s weird or confusing?  What did I learn about Jesus?  And based on what I read, what is something I can do about it in my life?  Feel free to contact me and I’ll help in whatever way I can!
  2. If you’ve been following Jesus for a long time but you’ve cherry picked what to follow about Jesus, then I recommend that you get reconnected with the Jesus of the Bible.  Gather a group of friends to read the Gospel of Mark with you and see for yourself the kind of person that Jesus was.  In this group, ask the same questions that I outlined in point #1.  Then hold each other accountable to living the human life of Jesus in your human lives!
  3. If you’ve been following Jesus within the Christian bubble, it’s time to burst out!  Think about where you work, live, and play.  Who do you encounter in those places that doesn’t follow Jesus yet?  Maybe it’s time to start up a friendship with someone who is far from God.  But do this authentically.  Don’t force it.  Don’t push Jesus down their throat.  Instead, allow Jesus to bubble up through you into their lives.  BE the good news in their midst.  When the time is right, you can share with words.  But in the meantime, live the loving, caring, ethical, and honest life that you see Jesus living in the Gospels in the plain view of those who don’t know Jesus yet!

 

What do you think?  What does it mean to follow Jesus in the real world?  How would you recommend that we do that?  Let me know in the comments below!

Samaritan Woman: Role Model? Transformed, On Mission, and Effective

Could the Samaritan woman from the Gospel of John in the Bible be a good role model for those of us who follow Jesus?  And is she a better role model than many of the alternatives out there?

Samaritan woman

By: The U.S. National Archives — Rosie the Riveter served as a role model for millions of women during WWII.

Role Models Are Everywhere

I wonder if there was a time in the past where role models were harder to come by than they are today?  Think about it — with the constant bombardment of media today, we are quite literally surrounded by role models.

Fortunately, many of those role models are great!  Right in the palms of our hands or on the screens of our televisions we get to see stories about and created by the likes of Malala Yousafzai, Steph Curry, Lindsey Stirling, and Destin Sandlin, each of which would serve as great role models for adults and children alike!

Unfortunately, however, there are at least as many horrible role models we could be influenced by too.  And, equally unfortunately, these role models have just as easy access to our collective attention too (if not more due to our love of bad news).

So what are we to do?

Here’s an idea — why don’t we try to curate our role models a bit?  I know, I know.  This is a method that parents have been trying for years and years.  There’s nothing new under the sun!

But in today’s attention economy, the one thing that we can control perhaps the most is what we pay attention to.  So, for the next few minutes at least, let’s attend to a really good role model: the Samaritan woman.

The Samaritan Woman as a Role Model

I’ve written about the Samaritan Woman before: about how she was an avoided person and about how Jesus didn’t pass up the opportunity to connect with her.  In this post I’d like to discover what about her is worth imitating.  In other words, I want to investigate why is the claim that the Samaritan woman is a good role model is true.  I want to focus on three things about the Samaritan woman that are role-model worthy: she was transformed, she was on mission, and she was effective.

The Samaritan Woman: Transformed

In John 4 Jesus and the Samaritan woman have a great philosophical and theological discussion about spirituality, human insatiability, divine provision, her private ethical choices, worship, God, and the Messiah.

Her last words in this discussion are words of faith, saying that she knows the messiah is coming and that he’ll explain everything when he comes.

Then Jesus says something mind-blowing.  He says that he’s the messiah.  In fact, he uses a particular phrase that would have rung loudly in her religious ears — egō eimi.  These two little Greek words spoke volumes.

Egō eimi are the two words that appear in the ancient Greek translation of Exodus 3.14 where God identifies himself as “I AM.”  And here Jesus uses egō eimi to describe himself.  Jesus is making a claim about his divinity here, albeit in a slightly roundabout way.

But the Samaritan woman gets it.  She understands the reference.  In fact, it appears that when she hears these two words her entire perception of Jesus changes.  She probably played their conversation over in her head in a new light.  And, much more importantly, she let the truth that Jesus just revealed about himself play out in her future.  She saw that if Jesus truly was the egō eimi as God revealed himself to be to Moses, then her life could not be the same.

In an instant she was transformed!

So much so that in John 4.28-29 she leaves her water jar behind (perhaps a sign of her leaving her old way of life behind) and runs into town to tell everyone what had just happened to her.

Her faith in this moment changed her from the inside.  The external parts of her transformation would surely be more gradual.  She was still wrapped up in a deep relationship web after all (see John 4.16-18).

But the very fact that she would run into town demonstrates the reality of her transformation.  She was a known commodity after all.  People were well aware of her choices and judged her for the(which is likely why she was drawing water at midday instead of the morning or evening, as I wrote about here).

However, the transformation brought about in this encounter with Jesus trumped all her fears and concerns about how she would be perceived.

What a role model!  How many of us would have cowered when Jesus brought up our past and current ethical choices?  How many of us would have let the perception of others thwart what God wanted to do in and through us?

Let’s look to the Samaritan woman as an example of the amazing transformative power of Jesus!

The Samaritan Woman: On Mission

It’s true that the Samaritan woman was transformed on the inside.  But as we have already seen, she was transformed on the outside too.

Here it is in the text of John 4.28-29 itself:

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

These are the actions and the words of a woman on mission!

She had just had an amazing encounter with Jesus, the messiah, the egō eimi, and she simply had to share it with others!  She can’t contain what has happened in her life!  She has met the divine and she must tell people what she knows!

But notice how she tells them — she says what Jesus did (told her everything she had done) and then invited them to come and see for themselves with a question (“Could this be the messiah?”).

Unfortunately this isn’t exactly the way that we usually think about sharing the good news of Jesus and his kingdom with people, is it?  Instead of the way of the Samaritan woman, many followers of Jesus try to reason, argue, or scare people into following Jesus.  And we’ve seen how poorly these methods have worked at growing the church.

Instead of doing things like we always have, let’s look to the Samaritan woman as a role model!  Let’s see in her not an attractive church model, but an attractive life model.  She didn’t beat anyone over the head with anything.  Instead she simply said what happened to her and then invited others to come see for themselves by drawing on their native curiosity.

What might this look like today?  Passion City Church in the Atlanta area uses the phrase “irresistible lives” when talking about this idea.  I think they are on to something.

If we live the good news with our own lives, incarnating Jesus and his kingdom where we work, live, and play, then our very lives are the curiosity-inducing questions.  Sure, there will be times where we should use our mouths too.  But what if we lived our lives so radically centered on the love of Jesus that people couldn’t help but be curious?

That’s a question I want to see answered in my own life!

The Samaritan Woman: Effective

Lastly, the Samaritan woman is a good role model not only because she’s transformed and on mission, but also because she’s effective.

When she invites people to come and see this guy who might be the messiah, they did so!  But it gets even better.

Check out John 4.39-42:

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

People first believed because of the testimony of the Samaritan woman, so much so that they pleaded with Jesus to stay with them longer.  After spending more time with Jesus, the egō eimi, many others believed as well.

So the effectiveness of the Samaritan woman came in two phases — Phase One: people believed her when she said what Jesus had done for her; and Phase Two: people were able to confirm what she said when they met Jesus for themselves.

So if the Samaritan woman is to serve as our role model, then what would this look like?  How can we be effective like her?

As mentioned above, invite people to meet Jesus.  Live irresistible lives.

But it’s the next step — we have to let them confirm what we say by actually meeting Jesus.

Do we get in the way of this today?  Absolutely!

In my humble opinion we are more likely to introduce people to institutionalized religion, the baptized American Dream, a religious self-help group, or even the church.

How, instead, can we introduce them to Jesus?  How can we peel back all the caked on crud with which we’ve covered him?

Here’s a radical idea — we can let them see Jesus in us and through us.  We don’t have the blessed opportunity to literally take people to the incarnated Jesus.  Instead Jesus makes himself known in us through his Spirit and then calls us to incarnate him and his message wherever he sends us.

So instead of inviting people to church (which is still a fine thing to do, it’s just not the most effective thing to do), let’s invite people into our lives so that they can meet Jesus there.

And we don’t have to do this alone.  We can invite them into our communal experience of Jesus too.  The Samaritan woman didn’t have community (yet!), so we’ll have to pave our own road here!

One more thing — if we want to invite people to meet Jesus after having shared with them what he has done for us, not only should we invite them to meet him in our lives, but we should also invite them to meet him in the Gospels.

In my experience people love reading about Jesus’ life in the Gospels.  So as we live curious lives, let’s point people to Jesus in us and our communities and to Jesus in the Scriptures as well!

 

What do you think?  Is the Samaritan woman a good role model?  Did I miss something about her that you find imitation worthy?  Let me know in the comments below!

#Incarnation: New Wine Podcast #013

What is the Incarnation, why is it important, and what difference can it make today?

I answer this question in my latest podcast.  You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!