This article is by Brooke Wilson and published CRU
Can one conversation change the course of a life?
Think about a conversation you’ve had that made a long-lasting impact on you. Maybe it opened your eyes to a new way of living, allowing you to let go of old, destructive habits. This is exactly what happened to one marginalized woman from Samaria.
In John 4, Jesus has a life-changing conversation with a Samaritan woman who is gathering water from a well. While this interaction may look like a coincidence, it was part of a plan for her redemption. Jesus was faithful, and He called this woman to step out in faith so He could give her new life.
Would you rather sit by the well when you’ve tasted the living water or run to share that truth with others?
Entering into life-changing conversations will require vulnerability on both sides. You may have to dig deep and remind yourself of the pain in which Jesus met you.
It may be scary to share what Jesus has done in your life, but ask yourself, would you rather sit by the well when you’ve tasted the living water or run to share that truth with others?
You can learn how to do that through these three lessons Jesus teaches us at the well.
1. You Must Cross the Line: Crossing Cultural Boundaries
There was a cultural divide between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.
Jesus was a Jewish man. The woman was a Samaritan — from a group of people who descended from Jews and intermarried with Gentiles. Jews generally had a very low opinion of Samaritans. (for more read: Who Were the Samaritans?). In John 4:4 (New International Version), this Samaritan woman responds to Jesus’ countercultural request for water by saying, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” The verse explains, “For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.”
Throughout this chapter we see Jesus breaking through cultural and religious barriers, even though it was socially taboo. In verses 21-26, Jesus tells the woman that there will be a time when true believers in God will worship the Father not on mountain tops or in temples, following a religion or cultural tradition, but through the Holy Spirit living inside of them.
In today’s society, cultural and religious divides seem to go hand-in-hand.
To go to those who aren’t like you, especially the ones on the outskirts of society, can be a challenge. But it’s a challenge worth taking because you get to tell them of the living water you know.
2. Remember, Your Past Is Not Your Future
Jesus didn’t erase the Samaritan woman’s past but reminded her that her past was not her future. Jesus believes the same for you.
Jesus knows her past and her pain, but He also knows her purpose. And He knows your purpose too.
In verses 17-21, Jesus begins to show the Samaritan woman that He knows her past and her pain, but He also knows her purpose. And He wants to show you that He knows your purpose too.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus gives examples of active listening and compassion through asking questions (see Mark 10:46-52, Luke 24:15-27.) Though the Samaritan woman was ashamed of her past, Jesus listened well and then painted a picture of what is to come.
As a follower of Jesus, you may often feel you cannot share your faith with others because of baggage from your past. Yet John 4 is a story of redemption. Jesus has changed your life and wants to use you to reach others as well. So share your story, knowing all the glory that’s to come, and listen well to theirs.
3. Start With One Conversation
Through lessons, prayer and meditation, Passages provides biblical motivation and training for sharing Christ with close friends and acquaintances.
One conversation with Jesus changed the Samaritan woman’s life. One conversation with your neighbor could do the same.
The story of the Samaritan woman concludes with the woman running back to town to share about Jesus.
In verse 29, she says, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could He be the Messiah?” One conversation with a stranger sent her off to be a great evangelist to the neighbors she once avoided. Many Samaritans came to trust in Jesus as their Savior because of that one conversation.
What would it look like for you to trust God with one conversation about Him this week? Could you share your faith with one person? Who would that be?
- Before the first conversation, pray. It is important to pray for opportunities to share the Good News with your neighbors, friends and family. Not sure how to connect with your neighbor? Read “How to Love the Neighbor You Haven’t Met.”
- During the conversation, engage. Be an active listener as you hear your neighbor’s story, just as Jesus was with the Samaritan woman. Examples of active listening include repeating back what they said, asking questions and nodding your head as you listen.
- After the conversation, read “How to Grow in Love for Your Neighbor” to continue conversations with your neighbor as you trust God to grow your relationship.