The Well

Reading a book recently by an author I respect and enjoy led me to pause and rusty wheels began to turn. Every generation has certain general characteristics in which one can be proud or, well, not so proud. Without getting bogged down in those details, my generation (20s-30s or Millennials) have one characteristic I find positive and appealing: the desire to see justice prevail and poverty thwarted. This plays out well in the church because of a definite thread throughout Scripture highlighting God’s heart for the poor and unjustly treated. Reading the book I mentioned earlier, the author spent significant time citing statistics bringing to light serious social issues in the world. He pleaded for believers to care and act.

The problem that seemed to rise from these pages as well as many others is a theme often left out of the passionate pleas to action: sharing the gospel. While it may sound old-fashioned or pushy, it is the reason we go. Jesus Christ is the reason we care.

John 4 tells a magnificent story of cultures colliding at a water well of all places. At about noon (the wrong time to be at the well) Jesus met a peculiar woman who most likely visited the well during off hours to avoid troublesome conversations. She had no idea the encounter that day would change her life, especially when she approached the well and saw a Jew sitting close by. The Jews and Samaritans had longstanding cultural issues but Jesus was about to break those at the local watering hole. The story unfolds and Jesus challenges the woman with a simple statement, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

We must not forget to carry eternal water when we dig temporal water wells in villages that need fresh drinking water. We must not forget to carry the gospel when we carry the sick to treatment. We must not forget to give the Bread of Life when we give bread for sustinence. Otherwise, we missed the point that Jesus made. He could have given her a nalgene bottle that never ran dry but essentially nothing would have changed.

It is good to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and the sick. Jesus commanded us to do these things. But our purpose is to share Him as we do them. See let us not cease in doing good and never rob the good of its platform for eternal change – through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

4 thoughts on “The Well

  1. As one tends a garden or effects yard work, he assesses the current condition of the vegetation. He sets out with purpose to bring it from its current disheveled condition into a pristine, healthy condition. In the same manner, making disciples involves the development of a relationship with the individual for the purpose of assessing the current state of the individual. This is a part of what we call community. But it is also the initial role of a disciple maker. On page 81 of Evangelism is, Dave Early provides a chart which illustrates the various spiritual conditions that a person maintains. Some of these conditions cause the individual to harbor “misconceptions and misperceptions” concerning God, the Bible, Christ and Salvation. Tending to the relationship can be likened to yard work in the sense that the disciple maker must become physically involved in the process. Guided by the Holy Spirit, he must assess the person’s condition and then he must actively participate in the modifications. This is what Early refers to as “a process whereby the unbeliever gets to know about Jesus and the gospel, leading to an event.” (Early, 79) Moreover, the disciple maker must get his hands dirty by “tilling the soil” of the unbeliever’s understanding of the message and/or planting the seed of the gospel leaving the results to God.Credibility to affect this purpose is earned through the meeting of physical needs.

    However, the active role of the believer is also to call upon God to affect salvation upon the unsaved person. Wheeler posits: “there is no greater pre-evangelism activity than encouraging Christians to saturate the area with aggressive prayer.” (Early, 86) Nevertheless, the role of the disciple maker is not limited to “prayer and share.” As Wheeler states, “In order to ensure a bountiful harvest, the ground has to be broken, and the seed has to be spread.” (Early, 87) Wheeler continues, outlining the “keys to effective spiritual farming which encompasses, “prayer, being positive, accepting, consistent, intentional, creative and active.” (Early, 90-91) Moreover, the believer must possess the internal drive toward sharing the gospel with the unsaved, exhorted with the confidence of sharing Christ with singleness of purpose. Such drive and desire effects true biblical multiplication wherein disciple makers make disciple makers. This notion at its core fulfills the Great Commission.

    A personal testimony brings about realness to the affects of salvation on the person. In essence the individual can personally identify with the struggles described by the believer and become increasingly enlightened as to the only solution to their own current conditions. Such opportunities arise out of biblical community. In effect, the witness states: this is what Christ did for me, and He can do it for you as well. Early provides such an example as he describes his witness to Eddie in the locker room one afternoon. He clarifies that one of the simplest ways to “build a bridge is by sharing your testimony.” (Early, 246) Additionally, Wheeler describes the process of developing and sharing one’s “Recovery Testimony.” In a similar fashion, the sharing of a recovery testimony wherein “Jesus helped [the witness] with a particular problem or need in [his] life” (Early, 265) enables the believer to demonstrate God’s ability to rescue a person from their circumstances and pour out his abundant life of salvation on them. Such sharing of one’s heart reveals vulnerability which breaks down cultural barriers as well as lends credibility to the message being shared.

    Early, Dave and David Wheeler. Evangelism is. Nashville: B & H Academic. 2010.

  2. Great comment Doug. I believe your assessment captures all sides of the believer’s responsibility in sharing Christ. My prayer is that God would break our hearts for the things that break His. What I don’t want is for the church to have a broken heart to provide food but live politically correct when it comes to the souls of men. Thanks.

  3. How do we balance this call to proclaim Jesus with service that doesn’t see people as targets, where we offer them water..IF…they also listen to a gospel presentation.

    I think Biblical Community is the answer. Loving people period. Giving with no strings attached. Relationships, many times through sacrificial giving (water wells, food, etc) open up the door for evangelism to happen naturally. This mirrors Acts beautifully. I think our generation (20’s-30’s)wants to do the social justice thing but is afraid of being grouped in with the evangelism methods and programs that are about getting “people saved” and then moving on. I know that is not your heart hear, but its an interesting dynamic and tension we must be aware of. How do we live in it properly?

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