It seems like more and more Christians are being told that to share their faith is to offend people who don’t believe the same way.
But is evangelism really about persuading people to intellectually ascend to a more noble truth, or is it about something else?
In a well-known passage from John 4 Jesus meets and interacts with the woman at the well, and what transpires after their conversation is that the woman goes back to her entire village and encourages the people there to “Come see a man who knew everything about me.”
Unfortunately, this passage has been misconstrued for years. Most people’s understanding of this passage is that Jesus’ ability to point out this woman’s sin is what caused her to repent, and then tell her village that they, too, should meet the man who exposed her sin and caused her to get her life right with God.
This conclusion is drawn because of the fact that Jesus revealed that the woman had had several husbands and that the man whom she was living with currently wasn’t her husband.
Yet what is often missed in this story is the context of what life would have been like for a 1st Century woman.
In this culture it was not common for women to divorce their husbands, nor was it allowable at all in Jewish culture for the woman to divorce her husband. On the other hand, it was “permissible” and customary for Jewish men to divorce their wives and “put [them] away,’“ if their wives weren’t pleasing to them in some way. (Matthew 1:19)
Culturally, women who were not married, were not accepted and certainly could not survive long without a man willing to take her on some account.
What we see in the interaction Jesus had with this woman therefore, is not a woman who was necessarily so “sinful” that she had ruined her life, but that she had been deemed so unworthy by at least 5 husbands, that they had divorced her, and gotten rid of her, because she had been unacceptable to them.
This was a woman who had been in such deep sorrow and emptiness, having been rejected and unloved by so many men, that she had conceded to be taken in by anyone, even if the person she was currently with was not willing to marry her.
When Jesus met her and discussed these things with her, it was not in an effort to condemn her for being a divorcee, but it was for the purpose of meeting her deepest need to feel loved, valued and accepted.
The fact that Jesus through a word of knowledge could see and understand this rejection, and was willing to minister to her and offer her “living water,” caused her to feel the unconditional love of the Father, (which she was eagerly anticipating) [John 4:20], in a way she had never felt before.
In an instant, when her heart welled up from the overflow of love and acceptance she felt from Jesus her savior, she was inspired to let the whole world know, that this man Jesus, was capable of knowing people intimately, and loving people in spite of their unworthiness to be love by the world.
This is the true heart of evangelism.
Telling people about Jesus is not about trying to convince people intellectually that we have a superior faith or religion.
As Christians we desire to share our faith because our lives were touched and changed by Jesus.
Have you met the man who knows you more intimately than anyone else has ever known you? Has Jesus improved your life? Have you received a benefit from Jesus?
If so, don’t you want to share that experience with more people?
Evangelism is not a requirement, or duty Christians must perform in order to achieve salvation, but a response to having met a savior who saw our pain, and went out of his way to meet us in our deepest point of need.
When you meet a savior who sees you, values you and brings life-giving spiritual water to you, you’ll never feel guilty about sharing your faith again.
Thank you, Krissy, for the insights that you have shared in this blog entry. "When Jesus met her and discussed these things with her, it was not in an effort to condemn her for being a divorcee, but it was for the purpose of meeting her deepest need to feel loved, valued and accepted."
I now have a much deeper empathy for this woman, much like I have for the woman "taken in adultery" (John 8:1-11)
I want to be like Jesus, having such compassion for others, especially the unloved.
Thanks again, Krissy. I wish you and yours a most blessed Holy Week. Jesus died for your sins. He died for my sins. Such love.