Personal relationships are so important when it comes to reaching others with the Gospel
I’ll start this article with a quote from Colin Marshall and Tony Payne.
“If our members aren’t inviting people into their homes and lives, it’s no use urging them to invite people to church events and activities.” (p. 247 TVP).
The account of Jesus and the Woman at the Well is incredibly powerful and challenging as we see Jesus engage with this woman. What I like about the story is that the woman knew nothing about Jesus. In most of the other stories we read, people wanted to meet Jesus – they had heard about him and the miracles that he had performed and came flocking to him for healing, teaching, a free meal, inspiration and so on. Jesus’ name was up in lights! John the Baptist also directed people to Jesus with the words, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” I suppose at that point Jesus had celebrity endorsement!
The truth is, when we look at the New Testament Gospels, Jesus’ name was out there. Even at the beginning of John 4 we read that Jesus popularity was shooting right past that of John the Baptist and the Pharisees (his opponents) had him in their sights. So, the story of the woman at the well stands out because the woman didn’t know Jesus. He was just another Jewish man and Jews did not associate (or engage) with Samaritans.
“Jews did not “engage” with Samaritans.”
If Jesus, tired, dusty and hot had chosen not to ask the woman for a drink she would have come to the well and then left again with her life being exactly the same as it was before. Who knows, she might have had another husband or two in the next decade of her life!
For us in the local church – this is really instructive! People are not flocking to churches to meet with Jesus. Most people in our society are more like the “Woman at the Well”. They are people with very little interest in religion, are mostly reluctant to talk religion and their lives are generally disrupted by poor moral decisions. They are people who have no real knowledge of Jesus or if they do have an opinion of Jesus, it is most likely a distorted view of Jesus.
In the story Jesus was just another anonymous Jew, until He engaged with her. I think the biggest surprise she had was that Jesus actually spoke to her. He asked her for a drink. Now, the question we need to ask is this one. “Do we have the courage to engage with those who know nothing of Jesus?” If you are only engaging with your own Christian friends and acquaintances then you need to open our hearts wider and when the heart expands for the lost, so your impact will increase for the sake of the gospel.
Here’s a simple challenge: Jesus began his engagement with the woman at the well with this simple question, “Will you give me a drink?” Why not start by identifying some people you know who do not know Jesus, pray for them and ask them a question.