Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A Way to Miss God's Grace?

I had the great privilege to hear Rev. Frank Barker preach this past Sunday on the all-too-familiar story of the woman at the well out of John 4. Every time I read that story, (maybe a thousand times?), I see something new.

I couldn't help but think, marvel, at how God had PREPARED the woman to have the village changing encounter with this outcast soul.

I'm going to re-tell the story- but I am going to change the woman's response. And then let us think together, what difference could this have made?

Jesus Meets the Woman at the Well- with a TOTAL DIFFERENT RESPONSE- borrowing from the Message Bible.

To get to Galilee, Jesus had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob's well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, "Would you give me a drink of water?" (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.) The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, "How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" (Jews in those days wouldn't be caught dead talking to Samaritans.) Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water."The woman said, "I am not buying your line and if you talk to me again, you are asking for trouble." Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.""What do you know of thirst, or of want. How dare you judge me, you piece of jewish filth."
He said, "Go call your husband and then come back.""This is what I thought it would be, a self-righteous morality check" she said.   "I am only asking about things that are well known and true.You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your husband. Your heart is hardened in your denial of God's moral law and you are experiencing consequences because of it." "Oh, so you're a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?""Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God's way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter."It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration." The woman said, "Useless words" "I am the Messiah," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait any longer or look any further." Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn't believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it. The woman quickly grabbed her water pot, cursed Jesus, and ran back to town. Back in the village she told the people, "Come see a man who propositioned me, told lies about God, and deserves to die!" And they went out to destroy Jesus on account of what the woman said.

As I spend more time with all kinds of people, I am shocked and saddened at the frequency I see of the type of heart above. This is not the majority of people I speak with- but there are some who are this hardened and even more so. They mock, sneer, make fun of, and ridicule the very truth of God.

Is there something in common with these types? Well my un-scientific observation is that these are the tall, handsome, talented, wealthy, popular, used to getting their way, and caring only for themselves types of people. And you can even find them in the church.

The humble heart -like the real woman at the well had- the real heart, that knows reality and our shortcomings is so ready to eagerly meet Jesus and drink of His water, but sadly, I meet others who despise anything He is selling.

So what do you think? Would this woman have found grace? What should we say to this kind of person? More grace? Or truthful condemnation?

In my belief of a monergistic salvation, I know God had prepared the woman's heart for this grand encounter and he will condition all to that point of surrender- but as I pray for a number of people on my salvation list, I cry out to God to turn their mockery to eagerness, and their bold rebellion to shame.

May the good seed of God's word fall on plowed-up- fruit-bearing soil.

Love to hear your feedback and push-back.

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