Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Meat is in the Streets

John 4:27-38
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

I have been working on a message on the above passage for this coming weekend and I got to tell you that I am getting pretty stoked!

I love the story that unfolds here (it actually starts at in John 4:1). A Samaritan woman who is both estranged from God as well as her own people encounters the love of Jesus at a well in the middle of the day. The disciples show up at the end of Jesus’ conversation with her and express their concern that he hasn’t eaten anything. He then tells them that his food is to do the will of God and to finish his work.

How many times have I heard Christians talk about how they want to learn the deep hidden meanings of scriptures, the meat of God’s word. Well as John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement once said, “the meat is in the streets!” That’s what we see here in this scene. Jesus is so excited about what the Father is up to that he has forgotten about food altogether.

This is the first time in the Gospel of John that we see the Spirit of God working among those who weren’t Jews. Jesus, in this moment, is seeing the very promises made to Abraham being fulfilled right in front of him as those outside of the Old Covenant begin to get in on the blessings. Jesus then tells the disciples the gloriously good news that the fields are ripe for the harvest even though it’s not even harvest time. In fact he tells them they are going to reap fruit where they haven’t sown. How cool is that?

I love what this all communicates. You see Jesus wasn’t trying to talk this woman into believing. He didn’t giver her 4 spiritual laws or even lead her in the sinner’s prayer. He just came alongside what the Father was doing and joined in. God gave him insight into her situation which unlocked her heart and she believed.

I wonder if perhaps this is closer to how evangelism should be done. What if instead of trying to reason or argue people into accepting Christ we just listened for what God might be saying in our conversations with folks? What if instead of getting hung up on all of the barriers that seem to be separating people from God we just paid attention to what God might be doing and joined along in that? This is the confidence we are left with in this passage. God has already been working on people’s hearts before we even came on the scene.

What’s interesting in this passage is how the disciples totally miss out on what God is doing. They are focused on food and are probably distracted by their own prejudices. They probably don’t see God moving because that was the last place they would have expected to see him moving. But Jesus sees... and by the end of his conversation the Samaritan women sees as well.

I'll close with a prayer...
I pray that God would open up our eyes to see what he is doing in all of the random and mundane acts of life. I pray that we would not get so preoccupied with our own appetites and prejudices that we are oblivious to what God is up to. I pray for grace to be still and listen wherever we might find ourselves. I pray that we might reap where we haven’t sown. Help us Lord.


greenturtle said...

This message is all too similar to what I've been trying to tell the church/christian subculture for nearly two decades, to no avail.

Let me give you the perspective, from the eyes of "the other side": I am that woman.

Over the years I've been approached by Christians, solely for the purpose of being witnessed to. They have no interest in bonding with me or actually being my friend; They just want another number for their scoreboard.

They don't realize I already am saved. So once that is established, I don't matter anymore. They're off again, to continue meeting their quota.

I've said before that I don't want to be entertained. I don't want to watch you lift your hands up in public, look at the sky and sing religious songs.

I want you to talk to me, and actually care about what I have to say and how I feel. And if you don't, then please take your show someplace else.

Speaking on behalf of my atheist friends, we don't want to be witnessed to. If you really were interested in being our friend, that would be different.

But, that's not the vibe we get. We know that you really can't stand us, and want nothing to do with us. We can see through the facade.

The only times I've ever been successful in leading someone to Jesus, was when I was a FRIEND to them.

And I mean a genuine, permanent friend, regardless of their decision. Not just temporary, on the condition that they convert.

I've been run off for suggesting that "If you ever want to lead somebody to the Lord, you have to be a true friend to them-- There's NO other way."

But, I still stand on that, because it's the truth.

Penny Murray said...

I'm totally excited to show up Sunday! This is going to be a fantastic message.