Saturday, March 3, 2007

Are you talking to me?


Compared to the rest of our neighborhood, we have young children. Most of the young people on our street are in their early teens while our children are 8 and under. My son AJ is very concerned that several kids he has met do not acknowledge Christ as their savior. One girl, in particular, has informed him that she doesn't even believe in God. Every time he gets a chance, he tries to explain who Christ is to her and even left a note on her door last week bidding her to believe in God. She has a tough living situation as there are a couple teen-aged girls with children living in the same house. She is actually the child of a middle-aged couple living in the house also. My brief interaction with some of the occupants reveals a complex living situation and little interest in spiritual things. Further, there is antagonism toward Christianity which my young son has picked up on.

I have to confess, instead of encouraging him to continue to interact with the young girl and her family, I told him to back off on talking with them for a while. I just didn't think they cared for what my young son was saying, furthermore, I figured they were mocking him a bit. Innocently, AJ asked me, "Dad, don't you want me to talk about Jesus to them"?

My son had a point. We should talk about Christ to anyone who will listen. I'm not really a believer in "cold evangelism" where you walk up to a total stranger and start "witnessing", rather, in the context of getting to know a person or people, be careful to look for opportunities to share Christ with them by your life and words. That's my "style". Really, my son was doing that. He's known this young girl for close to two years. Off and on he has shared Christ in his own way with her and wants to continue to. I should leave the results to the Lord, not tell him to back off. I do want to help him with his "style", he tends to be pretty blunt (can't imagine where he got that). What has further intrigued me is watching AJ try to quantify the living arrangement this young girl is part of. He can see there are some unmarried girls with babies and the situation doesn't look like the traditional home he is used to seeing. Nevertheless, he seems unphased by this and talks to anyone and everyone who will listen, despite their situation in life. It reminds me of Jesus' willingness to talk to everyone, no matter their level of brokenness, about the Kingdom.

Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" ( For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." - John 4:6-10

Apparently Jesus was weary enough to stay at the well while His disciples ran to local Hy-Vee to pick up some food. He clearly has no utensil or pot to gather any water. A woman comes to the well at the same moment and Jesus, without hesitation, asks her for a drink. The woman represents most of humanity. A person entrapped by the fallen life. Constantly seeking satisfaction from temporal things. She is the perfect example of the people we will come in contact with. Jesus reaches out to her with His request. The "unacceptability" such an interchange in that social setting was huge and bears mentioning.

Almost 1000 years before Jesus' day, the northern kingdom of Israel, known as the 10 tribes- by then the “lost tribes” of Israel- were taken captive by the pagan Assyrians. Instead of maintaining their Jewish identity, the northern kingdom was assimilated by the pagan Assyrians, intermarried and happily stayed with their new rulers. Furthermore, when the southern kingdom of Judah returned to Palestine to rebuild the Temple and its' walls under Ezra and Nehemiah, the Samaritans where their chief opposition and antagonists. The Samaritans were the offspring of that union between paganism and the northern kingdom of Israel. By the time of Christ they were viewed as half-breed Jews, mongrels (in blood and religion), and treasonous compromisers. In the eyes of Jews the only thing worse than a Gentile was a Samaritan. The two groups hated each other, plain and simple.

So here is Jesus, traveling inside the dreaded land of Samaria, stopping for a drink and doing the most unexpected thing- asking a Samaritan for a drink! Further still, He was asking a woman! Furthermore, for Him to drink, He would have to drink out of her pot! Imagine the reaction of this woman! She was shocked and the verses display this beautifully:

The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" ( For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

What a beautiful picture here- Jesus has no concern for race, sex, religion, or social status. To Jesus there are no boundaries as to who needs the message of the gospel. In an almost beggar-like way, Jesus asks the woman for a drink. He comes to her not as a socially superior person. He comes to her not as religiously untouchable, but rather a person with the same basic need to drink. Imagine how many times this immoral woman was scorned by men! Imagine the depths of her shame and how low she must have viewed herself. It was no little matter to have man speak to her this way, especially a Jew. Jesus sets the example for us.

May we never discriminate when it comes to sharing the gospel message!

There is no excuse for any believer to appear “holier than thou” as we share the Good News. Certainly we must identify sin when it is apparent, but let us be very careful to clearly communicate that all men are sinners and we present the gospel so they might be saved as we have. Jesus approaches this woman who was clearly ravaged by the Fall, but still bearing the image of God, and begins to share Himself with her as she stands amazed.

I am going to help AJ with his approach in sharing Christ, but I've decided he has the right idea. I don't know what God's Will is for this young girl-only God is sovereign over salvation- but I am sure AJ (and our family) should be sharing Christ with her...and everyone.

1 comment:

Frontier Forest said...

AJ profound question begs us all to search for our own answer.
"Dad, don't you want me to talk about Jesus to them"?
O’ how my heart leapt for joy! Reading AJ’s exploding and relentless passion to share his faith should make us all dare to do the same.
This young warrior for Jesus can not understand why anyone would deny God? He refuses to allow this young girl to reject Jesus and seizes every opportunity to continually tell others the GOOD NEWS! And knowing AJ, he will never be detoured from his honest and sincere ways of witnessing. Shouldn’t we all be extremely encouraged by AJ, and at the same time, a bit ashamed about our complacency in sharing the love of Jesus with our neighbors? I must confess, I have failed miserably in my personal witness to the lost in the neighborhood. Of the 4 surrounding neighbors, only 2 have heard me proclaim that Jesus is my Lord and Savior!
AJ’s valor, his courage, his fervor to reach out, regardless of what other might say to his face or behind his back, brings me shame and encouragement. And I think, even Pastor Tony was moved to become more aware and more verbal as the Lord presents us opportunities for a witness.
“Lord Jesus, forgive me for my satisfaction for the lost. And grant unto me AJ’s fresh and youthful passion! Truly he is Your child. Your sovereign Hands are upon him. Even in his tender age, he has touched the lives of so many. We know You will bless every word that is proclaimed from the mouth and life of this young warrior of the faith.”
I hope I am around to hear AJ’s first sermon! May we all be urged to remember, Paul’s passion.
“Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” (II Corinthians 5:9)