Faithlife Sermons

Marks of Vitality: Authentic Evangelism

Marks of Vitality   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:23
0 ratings
· 22 views

Jesus invites the Samaritan woman to worship and be a part of a whole new way of living, drinking from the fount of living water. Our evangelism is about sharing in the good life we have found.

Files
Notes
Transcript

The New Revised Standard Version Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2 —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3 he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 4 But he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

Intro - Vital Congregations and Marks of Vitality
Good morning. Welcome to this second Sunday of Lent, the season leading up to Holy Week, the Last Supper, Christ’s death on the cross on Good Friday, the waiting of Holy Saturday, and the glorious celebration of Resurrection Sunday on Easter!
In this season, as we turn our hearts more toward God through practices of prayer, fasting, breaking bread together, we are also examining what it means to find vitality as a congregation. Working with the Presbyterian Church’s Vital Congregations Initiative, we are exploring 7 Marks of Vitality during the season of Lent.
Can anyone remember what last week’s First Mark of Vitality was? Lifelong Discipleship Formation. Congregational vitality is marked by a group of people who are continuing to learn and grow in their faith, to be people of “a long obedience in the same direction,” as Eugene Peterson put it.
Last week, we talked about simple practices that root us in our faith, that form us day after day. We talked about washing our hands as a spiritual practice, a moment to pause, pray, and consider the health and well-being of others.
I hope you had a chance to consider this over the week. We’re talking a lot about wellness and disease prevention as a world these days, so what better way to enter into our Lenten practice than consider a prayerful way to honor the desire to stay well and care for others. Keep washing your hands!
Second Mark of Vitality: Authentic Evangelism
But now we move on to our second Mark of Vitality. Before launching in, I find it striking the parallels between these marks and some of the conversation about virus spreading in our communities. It is haunting, in many ways. And of course, as the people of God, we have to be asking ourselves about what ways our faith lives out as compassion and care in the midst of the practical needs of today. Today’s Mark of Vitality is Authentic Evangelism.
You may scoff at this one on first blush: First, evangelical has become such a loaded word in our country. If “Authentic Evangelism” looks like standing on the street corner yelling at people or political overtures for a very narrow ethic or lifestyle or if it looks like handing out tracts, I bet you’re saying, “no thanks.” If that’s what we’re talking about, then you’ll just settle for getting a C on this Mark of Vitality. C’s get degrees. Or, as we said in seminary, P is for Pastor.
You might also be haunted, like me, at the striking connections to the spread of disease. Are we supposed to get out there and share our faith in a communicable, outbreak kind of way? Yikes! Aren’t we supposed to respect people’s personal space, wash our hands, keep our healthy distance?
But, as we always find, there is a much more excellent way than these. The way Jesus models authentic evangelism gives us great hope, fills our calling with possibility, and opens wide the way to what might call “the good life”, the life found by drinking the Living Water Jesus has to offer.
Let’s turn to our text.
Drinking living water
This was a long reading, but my hope is that we get a sense for some of the story. There’s a thick plot here between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the well.
A few things to note: The location of this story of the well is incredibly significant. John places the well in Samaria, near the ground that Jacob, called Israel, had given to his son Joseph. This is Jacob’s well, a significant place of meeting from the Old Testament, the place where Jacob meets his bride. For the Christian hearers of this word, there would be echoes of Jesus coming to the well to perhaps meet a bride, a promised one.
What is problematic is that Jesus doesn’t meet any woman. He meets a woman that he should most definitely not associate with. First, she’s a Samaritan: the text points it out explicitly: vs. 7 says — Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans. Jesus shouldn’t be drinking water with her, let alone asking her to serve him. She’s a second class citizen, unclean. And to add insult to injury, we go on to find out that she’s married 5 men and is living with yet another who isn’t her husband. 6 men. (hold onto that number, its potentially significant).
The drama of the story hinges in verse 19 when the woman recognizes that Jesus is a truth-teller, a prophet. She wants to know what it looks like to worship God because she has heard this truth about living water from Jesus and she wants in. And here, Jesus blows the whole thing up big. Again, he says:
The New Revised Standard Version Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

You want in on this: God is spirit and God invites you to find truth in worship. You think the place matters? Hey you, disciples and hearers of this story: you think it matters that I’m at Jacob’s well? You think I’m going to usher in my kingdom right here and now — Jesus says, “I sure am, but not how you think its going to happen.”
This thing is getting big — and its leading us all to living water, to something worth sharing.
Remember how I told you to remember the number 6 as significant? 5 husbands and she’s on to the next one, the 6th now. That sets up a beautiful symbolic connection to a pretty important number throughout the Scriptures: 7. 7 is the number of completion in God’s story. 5..6…what about 7 husbands? Not literally, but what about a 7th, in the way of this woman discovering what she has longed for in the way of Jesus? What about the symbolism that the hearers could glean from this: Jesus’ completion, the way of exploding wide the place of worshipping God from beyond just the mountain top — what if it comes by suddenly opening wide the Kingdom of God to such people as lowly Samaritans? The outsiders. What if we are seeing that the Bride of Christ is a people called the Gentiles, bigger and more expansive than the Jews. What if we see completion in Jesus offering living water — the water of the good life — to a woman who should be condemned and disregarded because of her race and her life choices?
Boom — this is good stuff, eh?
Jesus has just shared the good life of the Reign of God with a woman who desperately needed it. He has shared good news with someone in an authentic, loving, inviting way.
Retaking Evangelism for what it is: Sharing living water
The word “evangelism” comes from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, which translates as “good news.” We have to retake this word, evangelism, for what it is: good news! Don’t you want good news? Don’t you want to share “good news”? That is what evangelism is.
Think about it this way: don’t we want to share good water, the water of life, with others? Hey friend, you’re thirsty — have a drink. We’re all looking for the good life: health, stability, connection, loving relationships, a way to worship God that is meaningful. We long for the good life: evangelism, authentic evangelism, looks like sharing that good life with others.
How? Well that’s the greatest part: there’s all kinds of ways to share it. Perhaps it means inviting a friend out for coffee to show you care for them. Perhaps its planting a tree in your neighborhood to make it a better place. Perhaps its seeking out the lonely and saying, hey, let’s find a place for you.
Evangelism is also sharing the good news of being loved by God with others. Its sitting with a friend whose addiction has gotten the better of them and saying, hey, I get it, I’ve been there too, and you don’t have to walk the road alone. Its loving our enemy, to their face, because they are worthy of love. Its sharing the good life.
The good life is that life of completion — fullness, wellness, health and grace.
Authentic evangelism looks like sharing the good life with all people.
I want to draw us to a close by making a connection to the great struggle we’re experiencing as a world around this issue of the COVID-19 virus spreading. It might sound like sharing the good life means sharing germs and disease: what, you mean I’m supposed to pass a cup of water to someone else? What if one of us is sick? Come on — water droplets, you know?
Does sharing the good life look like saying: hey friend, I know its not always advisable to be in a big group of people during flu season, but you should totally come to worship at my church. We’ve got plenty of hand sanitizer.
What if…instead…sharing the good life looks like this: Maybe we find ways to welcome the ones who need water desperately, living water. We make sure we all wash our hands and take care when we’re sick so that the vulnerable among us can be safe. Maybe we find ways to make our worship and activities accessible, through recordings and social media, so that folks who are unable to worship or worried about their vulnerability to illness can still participate from home. What if we shared the good life by saying to the ones who live in fear, “hey, I’m a part of a community that wants to help you get what you need.” What if we let each other know about what we need and made it very easy to reach out for the living water — through email, our website, and through phone calls and connections. It doesn’t all have to be about what we do face to face here. And what we do face to face can be embodying that hospitality and welcome that radically cares for the ones in need.
When the woman tells that she is waiting for the Messiah, Jesus replies: I am he, the one who is speaking to you. The good life in Christ is one of opening, of hospitality, of welcome, of possibility. It is one of forgiveness and mercy. It is a good life of good news.
May we share a faith like this, in Christ’s name.
How do you see this here? How can we celebrate the ways the good life is being shared among us? And how can we see opportunities to grow more deeply in this way?
Let’s pray.
Related Media
Related Sermons