Last month we closed our “Call to Pray” series with a time asking God to open up someone in our life to the Gospel. Now — with Christmas soon coming — it is time to be sure we ourselves are open. It is time for us to open our hearts.
That is the theme we will focus on this Sunday as we conclude our “Open” series. We have been exploring Jesus’ extended conversation with a Samaritan woman where He not only shows us how to share our faith with others, but also models the mission He later gives the New Testament church.
The love of the Gospel knows no boundaries. It’s big enough and wide enough to include the whole world.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony. “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They 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
We learn from this story that we don’t need to have a perfect life to point people to Jesus. The people of this small town knew all about this woman’s messy life. What moved them to believe and to further pursue Jesus were the passion and conviction of her testimony.
Jesus didn’t actually tell her everything she ever did. Yet his knowledge of her private life made a deep impression on her. He loved her despite her shame and failures. When you know that kind of love you can’t help but want to share it with others.
I believe what often stands in the way of sharing our faith is our misjudgment of the needs and desires of others. We assume they’re not interested in spiritual things — that they see their lives as complete without God.
Yet this is almost never the case. Beneath the surface, all people have a deep thirst that nothing in this world can satisfy. That includes the people in your life today.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water that I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to enteral life.”John 4:13-14
Very often our failures in evangelism are failures in love. It’s not that the people in our lives don’t have real needs, it’s that we’re often not open to engaging them.
Throughout this conversation Jesus deals with this woman as a unique individual with her own history and longings. Her pain is real as is the sin behind it. Yet it’s here Jesus brings the forgiveness that heals her heart and changes the course of her life.
The Bible says God the Father has a deep love for all the people of the world, including our lost friends and family. Jesus died for them, the Spirit is available to them, and God is sending us to bring them in.
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.John 4:38
Again, let’s think back to the first Sunday of November when I put out a challenge for each of us to identify a person or two in our lives to be praying for. Someone whose heart and mind we hoped God would open to the message of the Gospel.
It’s now time for each of us to open our hearts to the spiritually thirsty people all around us.
And for those who are open… you can invite them to join you at one of our Christmas Eve services. There I’ll be sharing a message prepared uniquely for them. A message about Jesus — the True Light that gives light to everyone who is open to God.
Praying with you.