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One on One

John 4:10 - Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, `Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

Read John 4:1-42.

Personal evangelism is just not my thing--not my "gift!" As long as I lead a godly life, others will see Christ in me. That's all I'm supposed to do! Does this sound familiar?

There are so many feeble excuses for not witnessing for our Lord Jesus, but none is valid. We have a mandate to verbalize the gospel! We are falling short of our Lord's commission if we are just living godly lives. It's true that some Christians are gifted in the area of personal evangelism and a few find it quite easy to share their faith, but we are all called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Personal evangelism is carried out one on one--at the gut level. It is personally sharing the faith in such a way that the gospel of Jesus Christ is clearly presented and a personal decision is called for in one way or another. This one on one evangelism may take place over a period of weeks, or it may be more of a one shot deal-like a two hour flight or a twenty minute chairlift ride at a ski area!

In John 4 we have an example of our Lord doing personal evangelism. Jesus is quite tired and the noon sun is hot, but He is deeply concerned about a soul in search of "water." The Lord speaks just seven times to this Samaritan woman, but contained in each statement is a principle for personal evangelism. Let us learn and apply these principles.

In the first words of Christ to the woman we have the principle of making contacts and building relationships with non-believers. Jesus met with this social outcast and began a relationship on the basis of something very common to them both--water! She was a Samaritan prostitute and the Lord broke through several cultural barriers by asking her for a drink of water. According to social custom a Jewish teacher was not to speak to a woman in public. But Jesus broke this barrier of tradition and even made Himself dependant upon her to meet His thirst. The barrier of prejudice was broken down. Samaritans were only partially Jewish in their heritage and the Jews considered them "half-breeds." Racism was so acute that some Jews would not even walk on Samaritan soil in their travels between Judea and Galilee. They would actually cross the Jordan river and take the long way around Samaria so as not to "have dealings with Samaritans" (v9). But Jesus purposely went directly through Samaria (v4), met with this Samaritan woman, and was even willing to drink from the same water jar that she drank from!

What a lesson for us! How can we even begin to communicate the love of God to those in need if we refuse to make contact and build relationships with those outside our usual social group? The homosexual down the hall in your dorm is in desperate need of liberation found only in Christ. What do you have in common with that soul in bondage? Do you take a course together? Maybe the only thing common to you both is your daily need for water! This is where Jesus began with the Samaritan woman. Let me warn you--you may actually be put down in your efforts to build a relationships by "well-meaning" brothers and sisters, but then so was our Lord! (See vs 27 and Matthew 9:10­11.)

The second statement of Christ to the woman stresses the uniqueness of Christianity. It is not just another religion in which one chalks up good works. We must let the non-Christian "know the gift of God and who..."(v10). True Christianity is a relationship with the living Lord, which anyone can have for the "asking" (v10). But how can that friend or neighbor of yours "ask Him" if he doesn't know? May the "if you knew" statement of our Lord be a challenge to us. We are beggars who have found bread. Our job is to let other beggars know where they can find it too.

As the Lord continues the conversation we see Him explaining just what Christianity has to offer (vs13­14). Jesus does not offer a high-paying job after graduation or the answers for your next test, but He does offer new and everlasting life. It is interesting to see how the Lord uses the original point of contact (physical H20) as an object lesson of the spiritual life which He offers. Every person has a spiritual "thirst" which can only be quenched by God. We must communicate to the non-believer that the new life which Christ offers is not a temporary physical cure-all, but a permanent spiritual thirst-quencher.

By now the woman's interest is aroused to the point where she wants what Jesus has to offer, even though she is still thinking in physical terms (v15). At this point we would probably try to "close the deal" with prayer, and welcome another sister or brother into the family! But our Lord's next statement shows that she is not ready yet. "Go, call your husband and come back!" means that the masks must come off! The Samaritan woman had to own up to her past life, and every one of us must "go" and "come back" before the Lord as we really are.

The woman's moral responsibility before her Creator is further pressed home in the Lord's fifth statement (vs17­18). She is confronted with her sin of adultery--"the man you now have is not your husband." A person cannot play games with God who knows all, but must face up to the fact of sin in his life. In personal evangelism we are not to point the finger and condemn others, but a non-believer must come to the point where he is willing to admit that he is a sinner before an infinitely holy God.

The woman is convicted. She "perceives" that the voice of God has been speaking to her soul (v19). Feeling the pressure of moral responsibility, she naturally tries to escape by asking a typical "religious question" (v20). For hundreds of years her people had not worshipped in Jerusalem but had done their own thing on their own mountain. Our Lord's response is beautiful. He does not get sidetracked with religious tangents, but stays with the important issue of her need. She needed a true and spiritual relationship with God as her heavenly Father.

The question of "where's" and "why's" of worship have their place, but let us remember the real need of the person to whom we are witnessing. This sixth statement by our Lord is loaded with teaching in reference to the woman's religious question. Jesus did not ignore her question, but neither did He spend a lot of time on elaborate theological arguments when what she really needed was life in the family of God. Only then would her worship be true and accepted (vs23­24). In personal evangelism there is always the temptation to win an argument or show off our knowledge (The Lord could have gone on for hours at this point!), but our goal is to win the soul.

Finally the Samaritan woman comes to the point where she really wants Christ. She is through with her questions and arguments. When she admits that the coming Messiah would have the answers, she admits that she needs the Lord. And so in the seventh and last statement the Lord reveals Himself: "I who speak to you am HE" (v26). Every soul who comes to this point of decision and asks for Christ will find Him.

The proof of the woman's salvation is found in the next few verses. She leaves her waterpot and begins to do personal evangelism! (The forgotten waterpot could symbolize the things that used to satisfy her deepest desires--how insignificant, compared to a fountain of living water!) The converted prostitute's willingness and courage to share her new faith with those who knew all about her brought amazing results (vs39­42). One on one evangelism always brings amazing blessing. Try it!
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