As the pastor was preaching about the Samaritan woman this morning she connected a bit of theology and action for me. It went simply like this:
The woman at the well first comes to meet Jesus as a man, a human being. Only as she talks to him and he enlightens her does she come to know him as the Savior.Not a great new insight, but an interesting connection for me. My response was simply:
No wonder so much of what we call evangelism doesn't work. We try to skip the first step.That first step is for people, including ourselves, to come to know Jesus as Jesus of Nazareth, one of us, and then to know him as Jesus the Christ. We often, instead, try to prove why we need a savior, why Jesus IS the savior, and what that means. Most of the time it is only after we get to know Jesus that we can come to know him as Christ.
This seems to be a not uncommon pattern in the Gospels. It explains why, at first, the disciples are so clueless. Jesus is their friend and teacher, but he is not yet the Messiah. That awareness comes slowly and, in the end, only after the Resurrection for many.
Then came the other connection- we are often the way people meet Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh. No, I am not having messianic fantasies. It is one of those standard understandings of sharing the Good News that we may be "the only Bible some people read." Well, we may be the only way some people will get to meet Jesus. Us. His People.
That doesn't mean we have to be perfect- the woman at the well wasn't perfect. But when she went back to her fellow citizens of the town, they still listened and came out to meet Jesus themselves thanks to her. They later tell her that now they have seen and experienced Him because of what she had done.
Sharing the Good News, then, as I see it is to live the life Jesus came to give us. Yes, that is a simple and even simplistic statement. It misses more nuances than we can even begin to count because each of us is different and comes with different sets of insights and gifts.
But in the end the revelation from the heavens comes to very, very, very few people. In spite of us, God still uses us.