Monday, 31 March 2014

Thrive

Let me just tell you about this thing called the Cross. It just up and wrecks a person's life. Your expectations. Your plans. Your agenda. What you think is right or wrong. And whatever you think your life should look like. Or even, what others think your life should look like.

 And let me just tell you, that is a scary thing because in this beautiful land of freedom we call America, much of our time is spent figuring out what to do about our lives because most of the time we actually have the freedom to try to figure it out. This planning, trying to make wise decisions is a gift. Yes, it is. And there is this pressure to do what is "right." The problem is when many times our worldview of what is "right" is just a laundry list of things that may be wise as many of us, in our culture see it, but not altogether Biblical. There is this pressure to have it all planned out as if you are some sort of failure that after all of that planning, your life looks not a hint like the rest of Christendom, well many parts of it anyway.

To be clear, I'm not speaking of licentiousness or something rather crude excuse to live your life however you want (I guess that goes without saying, but you never know who's out there actually reading these ramblings. :) ).

No, I am talking about looking to the cross, to the gift of this Scandalous Love of the cross that moves a person to do what may look like crazy things to the rest of us.

 Certainly, the woman at the well thought this Jewish man asking to drink from her cup, was a bit off his rocker. "How is it that you, a Jew (this must have been obvious), ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan Woman?" (commentary mine) It's as if she's saying to Jesus, "What are you crazy??!!" Certainly this Jewish man knew he should not be asking for a drink from her...and he didn't even bring anything to draw from, but wanted to use her cup. And here he was asking for a drink like it was no big deal.

To put this in perspective, it would be like a white man walking into a shanty town in southern Alabama all the while while "white only" signs hung quaintly in shop, restaurant, and store windows, knocking on the first shack door he sees and asking for a drink from the African American that answered the door because he had just walked 20 miles uphill and was weary. Unthinkable, at the time!

Jews saw the Samaritans as unclean in every way. They were apostate Jews who mixed Judaism with pagan idolatry. And when you had to travel you certainly did not go searching a person, a Samaritan person (and she was a Woman!) to get you a drink during the middle of the hot, hot day. A good Jew would travel all. the. way. around Samaria. You would do whatever possible to not even let people think you were associated with such people.

 But here comes Jesus, weary and thirsty, altogether human, walking straight through Samaria, talking to a Samaritan Woman, alone and drinking from her cup. He reveals her sin to her, invites her to be a true worshipper by revealing Himself for the first time to a pagan woman, not to all the people walking around Samaria thinking that following all of the rules is going to make them right with God. As if we just stayed away from these certain people that their ungodliness can't rub off onto us.

It does seem a bit backwards doesn't it? Jesus, pursuing such a woman, I mean. And if you are a bit curious. This girl typing would be walking around Samaria too, feeling pretty good about herself, following all those rules. I'd be slack jawed just like those 12 disciples when they return from buying food, seeing Jesus talking to this Samaritan Woman, but too afraid to say anything.

Just. Like. Them.

Then they go ahead and stay there. In Samaria for 2 whole days. And many believe in Him. And maybe those 12 were a bit relieved, no a lot relieved, that no other Jew would be passing on through while they stayed. Or maybe that is just what I would be thinking had I been there.

You see, there is this war that wages inside of me. There is this part that wants the plan...that wants it all cleaned up with no mess on the floor. That wants to be what everyone else expects me to be and have the life everyone expected us to have. I long for, I thirst for, not living water found in Christ, but in man's approval. Sometimes I drink the kool-aide, the lie that says that happiness is found in stuff or education or "me" time. And then I look as Jesus, talking to this woman and it's as if he is talking right to me.

Because you know what?

He is.

And to you too.

I was her. Just like her, in fact. In almost every way. Though, I was religious, I was ignorant. I was "following my heart," to try to fill this vast, hole that was deep and wide as the Grand Canyon with love from those whom could never fill though they tried their best. I deflected any sort of reference to my sin as if I knew better with my religiosity and worldly ideas. And Jesus gently showed me the truth as he does with her.

And then Jesus gave me an "unexpected" gift. That is where the journey up and started. And the days that followed where we had to "decide" if we were going to accept this huge change in our life or try to cover it up. And it was tempting. To cover it up, I mean. To just go ahead with our plans and "big" dreams. In the moment, it would have been easier.

But....

Thank God for his immeasurable grace. That even while I didn't know Him, he still allowed us to see that perhaps there was something bigger...something better (harder very probably)...and that it was possible that He would and could take this gift and use it in our lives for good as we came to know who He was.

You see, Jesus surpasses our expectations, our plans, and what we think we know. He blows them out of the water, in fact. What we think we want is a list for our lives, we want a life that is planned out because we believe that it makes them more simple and predictable. On many days it does.

But what Jesus really wants is our hearts. And it's been that way since the beginning of time. The law was more than just a "do this and be right with God" list...more than a ladder to climb, it was a way to break the Jews' hearts and point them to their need for the Promised Messiah. To show them that no matter how good and pias they thought they were, they still needed to be Saved from themselves.

And that was, is and always will be me. A sinner, saved from myself.

So that doesn't mean just fly by the seat of those cute pants your just so happen to be wiping the dirt off of for the 3 millionth time today. It does mean to realize who really is in control of it all. Lord willing...we will do this or that (James). While we "plan" our courses, it is indeed God who directs our paths. (Prov. 16:9)

 I smile now thinking of all those Jews walking around Samaria not knowing many of them would be worshipping in the same church in the not so distant future with the ones they very much tried to avoid.



**And just as a side note.....reading through the book of John is a great way to see who exactly Jesus said that he was. The majority of the texts that are quoted above are from John 4 unless otherwise noted.**

 

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