This is week 2 of a quick 2 week series that I've entitled "Gentle as the Rain".
It's a simple message talking about the gentleness of Jesus. And to do this, we're looking at Jesus's interaction with two women who were very broken. Absolutely social outcasts, neglected in every way. But Jesus comes and he's just absolutely gentle, and kind, and gracious, in a way that changes how these women see themselves.
It's an abbreviated message today, then we'll receive communion then we have some announcements at the end of service so make sure to stick around for that.
Russia Trip with Luke. Years ago - I was 19 - I went on a mission trip to russia. And if you've even been to another country that's a lot different than where you came from, you know how strange it can feel to have these very basic human pleasantries expressed in very different ways. And how easy it is to be accidentally offensive. An example of this is that in certain cultures to show the soles of your shoes to someone is considered an insult. So you know that classic seated position of a teenager that's a half cross leg where the bottom of your shoe is pointing out to everyone, is certain cultures that would be a very rude thing to do. As we learned.
I remember in Russia our translator told us: “Don’t talk to people on the subway! Or on the street! Or anywhere!” Now that was a strange thing for us, we were currently in bible college, so we were all hopped up on Jesus juice, we just wanted to tell everyone how much God loved them. You're ordering food "Yeah I'll take a Number 1 no mustard, and do feel confident than if you were to die today that you'd go to heaven?!" It's like "Whoa man. Chill. Just order the burger."
But yeah, we were told to not to talk to strangers when you were out and about. And it was the strangest thing to be in a crowded bus, SUPER close quarters, you can feel someones breath on the back of your neck. And to have that many people together, and nobody is saying anything. Nobody's joking, nobodies laughing, nobodies telling a story that you can eavesdrop on. Nothing.
Lots of people, but almost no connection.
And I think that's an interesting comparison to life today. Where most of us spend a significant amount of our lives surrounded by people, but reports say that we feel more disconnected than ever. People even come together in the same room, and are nice to each other, but never really have much a sense of connection beyond anything more than just a Superficial level.
Nowhere is this more true than church. Where we can come into a room full of our spiritual family, we all have a best foot forward, we have a perma-smile painted on our face. And how that can actually rob of us the true, deep meaningful connection with each other that God wants us to have.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German pastor who was killed for speaking out against the Nazi's - (updated the language):
"He who is alone with his sin is completely alone. It may be that Christians, even with corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still suffer the agony of loneliness. True fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered in their midst. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. Forgetting the fact is that we are all sinners!"
We have all these different relationships in our lives, we have family, we have friends, we have pastors, coworkers.
We kinda ‘DECIDE’ which us to show.
Someone assumes - politics. I wonder if this has ever happened to you, where someone assumes they know what you think politically, and they’re exactly wrong, and just start ranting about someone or something, and you’re just sitting there trying to decide how much of yourself you’re about to show.
Feel this: If certain people in my life had access to certain parts of my personality, I know for a fact, they’d reject me.
So you learn to have different faces with different groups of people. Very few (if any) people, see the really truly real you. Even your spouse.
Very rarely do people have a relationship where they TRULY lay themselves bare. Where you can see all the times I’m good, I’m bad. You can see all the times I was the victim. You can see all the times I was the criminal.
Me:Ministry. I don't wanna make this all about me or ministry, but my Lord is this true when you're a pastor. That you spend so much time look a certain way to help other people, play yourself there for them to see you that's why relationships that even though there's not a whole lot of them do you have a very precious.
And the result of that for a lot of people is a life that looks a lot like the russian subway. Where there’s people all around us, but there's no connection. And this feeling of "Thew only reason these people like me, is because there's huge parts of me that they don't know." And don't get me wrong, often times that's true.
Many of us go through our entire life never having the experience of being truly known, and truly seen.
Me and Jordan. Sometimes when we're arguing (or let me rephrase that, lovingly discussing something), Jordan sometimes say ends up saying something like "I don't think you're understanding me." And she's right, because I've stopped listening to her and starting preparing my next comeback. I'm sure there's no one else in the room that can identify with that at all.
But it's a trusting and isolating experience to feel unheard and unseen.
And that's one of the reasons that I love Jesus's interaction with the woman at the well in John 4. That he's able to cut through the facade and communicate that he knows and sees the real her.
Jesus was on a journey. - Things were getting a little heated between him and the pharisees.
So he leaves Jerusalem to return to Galilee. (Map)
So there on the bottom, he leaves Jerusalem, and heads north to Galilee, and as I'm sure you can see, in order to do that, he has to pass through Samaria.
Now he had to go through Samaria. (John 4:4)
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar (Si-kar), near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. (John 4:5)
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. (John 4:6)
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7)
Ok, so Jesus is traveling, it's noon, so it's hot. He's tired.
Disciples go into the town, he stays on the outside.
Sits down next to Jacobs well. - Noonday sun, it's hot. He's thirsty.
There comes a woman who has come to get water.
Running water. What a miracle. - Pipes right into your house. Back in the day, had to go to the well to get water for: drink, cook, bathe.
Here's a woman with her water pot.
Jesus: "Hey, give me a drink."
I don't want you to miss the controversy that's happening here.
It's hard to convey just how invisible women were in these ancient jewish cultures.
It's amazing: In John chapter 4 we read the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has with anybody in the entire bible.
The samaritans were a people who were related to the jews but with a different ethnicity. Their faith had come out of the jewish faith, but then in morphed and kinda changed into something else. They had their own Torah and their own Temple.
These were people who had a different ethnicity and a different religion.
LOTS of hostility - Jews & Samaritans. Hated each other to be frank. Deep hostility. Israelis & Palestinians is not the worst comparison.
This is at jacobs well. And if we know one thing about wells in the OT, is that that’s where romance always happens.
Think about how:
All centered around the well. Romance starts at the well. So there's this rich symbolism here.
There is romance happening here but not the way you’d think, because God has always loved these samaritans, the outsiders, outcasts.
This story IS about a love affair, not between Jesus and this woman, but between God and the outcast.
Disciples arrive - Aren’t thinking ‘Hey, what are you doing talking to that samaritan woman at the well? :)’ No, they’re gonna say ‘What the heck are you doing talking to that samaritan woman at the well?!’
Jesus: "Hey, give me a drink."
She's surprised that Jesus would stoop to even speak to her.
She carries: hostility towards jews, and towards men probably.
She "Well, how bout that? How is that a jew would even speak to a samarian woman like me?"
Jesus "Well, if you knew who it was that asks for for a drink, you'd ask Him for a drink and he would give you living water." - And when you'd drink from that water you'd never be thirsty again, but you'd have eternal life."
Woman: Well give it to me.
BTW: She seems like a perfectly intelligent woman, so I think she understood the metaphor. Not that "Wow, if I drink your magic water I'll never be thirsty ever again." No, I think she understood. She's basically saying "Well this has been my life, coming to this well. So if there's some new way of life, give it to me."
Jesus: "Alright, we get your husband and you both come talk to me."
Woman: "Well, funny story. As it turns out I don't have a husband."
Jesus: "Ha! That's right. You've told the truth. You've had 5 husbands and now you're just livin with a guy."
She has not initiated 5 divorces, they weren’t allowed to. So it’s not like she’s some floozy that keeps divorcing people.
A few options:
But however this happens, Jesus knows it and brings it up to the woman. And let me say that I sense no judgement in Jesus's words. He's not judging, he's just acknowledging.
The whole point, is that Jesus wants this woman to see that she is seen. That she is known.
However it happened, it was tragic, and painful. And probably not something that she’s show to everybody.
Jesus cuts through : all the fake facade, small talk, to show this woman that he knows the real her.
So she says “I see that you are a prophet.” Tries to switch the conversation to theology.
"You jews say Jerusalam is where you're supposed to worship. With your big fancy temple and all that. - BUT Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they worshipped on these mountains. So what do you say about that!?!?!?" So He explains it to her.
Well the Jews worship in a way they understand, and you worship in a way you DON'T understand. But - Time - coming - won't be about - places, mountains, temples."
But then he goes on "All this debate about Jerusalam and bla bla, none of that is the point. - A time is coming when it won't be a places, mountains, temples. - That's all going away and something new is happening. God is raising up a new people who will worship him in spirit and in truth."
He’s saying: A day is coming where is doesn’t matter:
Where you’re born - Gender
Financial status - Slave or free
Not: this people vs that people.
All come as equals worship Jesus as savior.
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.” (John 4:25)
Funny you should say that. B/C I am he.
So this woman runs back to town. So excited she leaves her water pot.
Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” (John 4:29)
Skip down to:
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” (John 4:39)
So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. (John 4:40)
And many more believed because of his word. (John 4:41)
They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)
So Jesus changes this lady's life. How? Was it some crazy healing miracle where he rubs mud in her eyes? No. Was it some display over the demonic forces in an exorcism? No. Was it a display a brilliant theology like in the sermon on the mount? No. Of course he DID do all those things, but here he does something different.
What does he do that changes this woman life?
When she goes back to all her friends and tells then about this encounter, what does she say?
"Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!"
Jesus changes this woman's life by simply communicating to her that she's truly known by him.
All her shame, embarrassment, unworthiness, laid bare, and still, she was considered valuable and worthy of love.
Thought: Everybody thinks they know what kind of God they want.
The God who makes all your wishes come true.
People of Jesus’s time were expecting a messiah who would come that would come on a white horse and immediately go to war with their oppressors and free everybody.
Of course we know that Jesus was and continues to be an amazing warrior, but not in the way they were expecting.
My point: Jesus was not the God people were expecting.
The God that many of you are searching for without even knowing it, is the God who sees you, knows you, and accepts you.
That's what's amazing about this story: Jesus brings redemption to this woman by cutting through all the layers of facade, and simply communicating that he knows her and that his invitation extends to even her.
Incredibly: This woman has one of the most successful ministries in all the gospels.
Jesus would send out his disciples to some city, and they would come back and they’d have moderate success to really put a positive spin on it. The faith of this woman turned a whole city upside down. And it all started with Jesus coming and communicating that he sees her, he knows her, and he accepts her.
Back to the original analogy - going through life hiding. This feeling of ‘if I showed my real self, they’d reject me.’
Meanwhile, the power of the gospel is found in a God who sees you as you really are, and loves you.
Let that sink in. He’s sees everything about you, and you are COMPLETELY loved.
Not "I'll love you when…" But "I know everything about you, and I love you."
One thing I love: Jesus when he presents this living water, there’s no contingencies, no strings attached, it’s simply : “Do you want this?”
I think that’s the question for us, it’s simply this “Do you want him?” and if the answer is yes, then you can have him.
Disclaimers: No God will not leave you the same, Yes there comes with grace always a call to obedience, that's all true. But just like last week, that stuff comes SECOND. After the free offer of Grace. And the order is all important.
There’s such a desperate need that we all have to just be seen and known.
My wife Jordan and I, we first met when we were both in diapers. We have known each other through every season of life either of us have ever had. And now we've been together for 17 years, and we have an incredible marriage. We have the best marriage I know. That's my honest opinion. But there's still distance between 2 people. There always is. There’s no one in this world that can ever get close enough to you, to where there’s no distance. It's just not possible. There will always be distance. No matter how intimate.
It’s such a beautiful idea that God is the only one who sees through every mask you have and still loves you more than you could ever imagine. There’s no replacement for that.
So if you sitting here today, feeling alone. Surrounded by people, but still alone. Just wishing that there’s someone who could see the real you. Who could know the real you. And accept you, and even love you. That’s found in Jesus.
Most of the time, we don’t really believe that.
We hear a song or listen to a sermon about the love of God and think “That’s nice that Jesus loves those other people.” - Accepts.
But in our own minds we say “But you don’t know my story.” You don’t know where I’ve been.
Jesus knows you and you are completely loved. Don't overcomplicate it.
Closing Statement: In John 4, Jesus changes a forgotten woman's life by simply communicating that he knew her completely. This taps into a very real need that we all share: To be known. To be understood. And it's ultimately found in Jesus alone. Human relationships, no matter how wonderful, can never satisfy our need to be truly seen. God is the only one who speaks from the place of knowing everything about you, and loving you completely. When you feel alone and disconnected, let that serve as an opportunity to draw close to God and to allow him to rebuild your identity as a son, as a daughter, so loved by him.
So we're gonna receive communion, and to me, the connection here is so obvious.
That when you sit down across the table from Jesus, know that you're seeing someone who knows absolutely everything about you. He knows you better than you know yourself. And he wants in this moment I believe is for you to stop hiding, stop pretending, and stop making this about whether or not you feel 'worthy'.
Life tastes sweeter when you remember you didn't earn it.
As we pass communion, spend a minute - becoming aware of his presence. He sees you. He knows you, he loves you.
Pray - Jesus, we know that you see us. There's such a profound need in the human heart to simply to be known, and understood, and accepted.
So tonight, we sit in your presence and we simply receive your love.
Our souls laid bare, nothing is hidden from you. And that's a good thing.
And as we bless this bread and this cup, honor you as the God who knows us intimately and loves us completely. We're truly known by you.
And we say that we believe in you. And we trust you with our whole lives. And we thank you.
We remember your death,
We proclaim your resurrection,
We await your return.
2019 has been a wonderful year for the church.
At the beginning of the year, we moved from one to two weekend services. Some of our friend's churches have had success with a 12:30pm service, so we decided to give it a go. It's been a great joy to see new people join our church family and volunteer teams.
However after nearly a year, it's become apparent to us (both through conversations with church members and attendance) that the 12:30pm service time does not currently work for most of our church family. The majority of folks prefer the 10am service time.
When we announced the 12:30pm service we said that we'd give it a try and if it didn't work, we'd try something else. Unfortunately it hasn't worked, so we're going back to the drawing board and figuring out something more effective. We'll be having conversations with our church family and people in the community to hopefully learn how to schedule our church services in a way that will reach as many people as possible.
I want to say to you all that I am committed as ever to being a pastor at this church for the long haul. And our hope for you is that this church will be a place for you, but that it would also be a place for your kids, and your grandkids.
For now, beginning December 1st, we'll be consolidating our two weekend services to one 10am Sunday service. Pastor David will be starting a new series called "Chase the Light" that we think you're going to love.
We know that with every service change we're asking people to rearrange their schedule, so we don't make the decision lightly. We truly hope all of our 12:30 attenders will be able to make the switch to 10am. All other church ministries (Tuesday Night Grow Classes, Connect Groups, Royal Youth, Kovenant World, loveABQ, weekly prayer meetings, etc) will be unaffected.
We would like to thank all the people who attended and volunteered their time to the 12:30pm service. Thank you for having faith in us, thank you for following Jesus with us. Your willingness to give of your time and energy means the world. We hope to be the best stewards of everything God has given us, the most precious being you. We're excited about what you bring to the church and look forward to our shared future together.
We're honored to be a part of your spiritual family. 2020 is going to be an incredible year for the church as we celebrate 40 years. We have some AWESOME things planned. See you at 10!