In reading over the account of the “woman at the well” account in the gospel of John, I was reminded about how Jesus ministered to people. There is much debate these days about how to reach people, how to evangelize our culture, and how to do it like Jesus would do it.
Jesus gives us a great example about how to reach across cultural boundaries. He shows love to the Samaritan woman. Traditionally, a Rabbi would never speak to a woman in public, not even their wives. Jesus ignores that cultural tradition, demonstrating His great love. Even the language that “He had to go through Samaria” in verse 4, is a curious demonstration of both His love, and His purpose. Again, traditionally, Jews would not take the shortest route and go through Samaria, but because of their prejudice they would typically go out of their way to avoid contact with Samaritan people. Jesus ignores all cultural mores. Jesus is sensitive to culture, sensitive to this “outcast of society” etc. In this, He gives us a great model for loving evangelism. One that does indeed challenge us today.
Now if we stop there, Jesus looks like the postmodern thinkers would like us to believe.
However, if you keep reading, we see a Jesus that is not willing to set aside the important issues of sin in the life of the individual He is ministering to.
With the wisdom that only God could possess, Jesus lovingly, but clearly puts His “finger of conviction” on the greatest issue of sin in the woman’s life. She was an immoral woman.
This is not an isolated incident in the ministry of Jesus. In Luke 18, we see Jesus with the “Rich Young Ruler” do exactly the same thing. The guy is interested, but he too has sin that is a stumbling block to salvation. Jesus, again, puts His loving finger squarely on the issue, and gives instruction for repentance.
In both of these stories, there are common elements, but unmistakably there is sin being both immediately addressed and repentance appropriately prescribed.
These are the elements that are missing from the current wave of postmodern/emergent thinking that has invaded the church today. We want to simply love people, without judgement or condemnation. (That sounds good) We expect that the good news of Jesus’ love is going to reach our generation. The problem comes when we depart from the entire message of the gospel. The word salvation itself implies need. If we are to reach people with the Gospel, we cannot ignore the ministry of the Holy Spirit that would “convict the world concerning sin”. If we are to be used by the Lord, we cannot ignore this part of His message.
I do not intend that this is a “completed thought” your input would help complete it.
I welcome your comments. –Jim