Tuesday, March 4, 2014

see us as we are

There is meaning behind every story written in the Bible — a meaning that goes beyond just who God is, who is He talking to, and how the person (people) responds to Him. The story of God is a beautiful story, one that we can dive into and learn how God wants us to live in this world. It is also a complex story, one that challenges us to read beyond the words and to listen … and allow the Spirit to speak the story to us the way it needs to be told.
I think that many of us view the Bible in a similar lens: As we read Scripture, we tend to hurry to the meaning behind it.“Jesus, what do you mean to me?” is often a question that runs through our minds as we read verse after verse. And even though we may feel at times that we’ve reached what the meaning behind the passage, we can miss out on the whole story. As Josh stated in the beginning of the sermon, we read passages in the Bible with the intent of finding how it relates to us. And although it is not wrong for us to have that in the fore front of our minds, we also need to understand what the passage means in context, to understand the purpose of why it is written.

The story of the Samaritan woman isn’t only a story thrown into the New Testament to narrate  Jesus’ encounter with her. Her story is of relevance. Instead of reading about a woman who has been wrongfully labeled and judged by society, we see her as a woman Jesus took time teach and love. What began as a story of woman who walked a very long time to the well outside of her city to draw water, turned into her receiving the living water, as Jesus explains here:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” -John 4:13-14

Throughout Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, He breaks many societal barriers with her. He continues to prod into her life because, without her knowing it, He’s leading her towards salvation.  Although the Samaritan woman didn’t know it at the time, her questioning of His identity and why He chose to speak to her at that time allows her to become more vulnerable to Him.
“Woman” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you — I am he.” -John 4:21-25

(A better translation of the last verse in this story: I am the one who is speaking to you.)

What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? It means to see Him standing in front of us. When we allow our hearts to be transformed by encountering the revelation of God, we are able to fully surrender ourselves to Him and truly worship Him.
How often do we find ourselves in a similar situation as the Samaritan woman?
Jesus saw her as she was. Shouldn’t we allow Him to do the same for us? We all have shame, guilt, worries, doubts, confusion, and among other things that we carry on a day-to-day basis. But God sees us through our sin, and see us as we are.