Church vs. Christianity – Part IV

For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at a passage of scripture from John 4. The story is about Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. Today, I’d like to continue with that story and take a look at what happened after the woman left Jesus and the disciples and went back to her town.

We already saw that Jesus acted with compassion, understanding, love and most of all…grace. He didn’t condemn or judge, though He did not shy away from the fact that how she was living her life was immoral. He simply offered her redemption and encouraged her to make a change in her life and stop doing what she had been doing wrong.

Now, let’s take a look at what happens after she leaves Jesus at the well…

39Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41And because of his words many more became believers.
42They 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.”
John 4:39-42

There are a couple of things that I feel are worth noting here. First, I think it’s a telling thing that she seems to have approached the town without  judgment and condemnation in the same way that Jesus approached her. While she could probably have gone in and told everyone (well…some of them) that they were sinners and that she met the Christ and they needed His redemption, she didn’t do it that way. She basically told them that He knew about her sins. She never mentions anyone else’s.

It is amazing how Jesus’ attitude was so radical and so counter-intuitive. How do you suppose the pharisees would have treated this woman? Even if they didn’t know her sins, they would never have spoken to her in the first place. They wouldn’t have gone anywhere near her. Ever see that kind of thing amongst “Christians” today?

The other notable thing about this short passage is how the message is presented and how it is received as well as how it ends up.

Today, Christians are so wary about witnessing to people about Christ. We feel like we have to have all the answers. We worry about the questions people may ask or that they may be offended by our sharing our faith. Yet, what did this woman do? She told them what had happened to her. She told them that she met a man and why she believed He was the Christ. No more than that. Just what happened.

At first, they believed based on her testimony. That, then, was enough to draw them out and bring them to Jesus. After that, they believed based on what Jesus said to them. There is a wonderful parallel there, I think. Draw people to Jesus and then just get out of the way and let Jesus do what Jesus does. Save people.

To me, this seems like it’s a great example of how to witness. It’s also a great example of how to do so without condemning people or using guilt and shame (which the Church has been stigmatized with….justifiably).

What else can you learn from this interaction? Is there anything in this scripture that convicts you?

Grace, love and peace.

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