A Singularly Significant Story

Facts Are Facts

Once upon a time, driving home from church, a little boy remarked, “The preacher said that God is so big he could hold the whole world in his hand. Is that true?”

The mother answered, “Yes, that’s true, honey.”

“But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true too?” the boy asked.

Again the mother assured him that what the minister had said was true. With a puzzled look, the child asked, “If God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t he shine through us?”

Is that too simplistic for our sophisticated enlightenment? Maybe it is, but just as sure, maybe it’s not. Perhaps in this illustration we see another reason why Jesus urged us to become like children to comprehend kingdom matters.

Facts are facts: God is bigger than us. Though mysterious—mystical, even—he does live in us when we accept Christ as Savior. If he doesn’t shine through us, we are the problem, not God. The buck stops with us, not God.

Inner Circle

John, James, and Peter were the closest confidants of Jesus. John and James were brothers referred to as the Sons of Thunder, and Peter was also known as Simon. 

James was the first of this inner circle to be martyred. King Herod Agrippa had him executed with a sword. As far as is known, James left no written record. No letter or theological treatise bears his signature.

Peter was the eyewitness source for the account we know as Mark’s gospel. He also penned two powerful letters from Rome. 

It was during Nero’s pogrom against Christianity that Peter met his death. Tradition holds that he was crucified upside down, but actual evidence is thin, which suggests this is an embellishment of some words of Jesus recorded by John. 

Of the three, John was the most prolific writer. He chronicled the life and times of Jesus Christ, three letters fleshing out the life-altering meaning of love, and also, the mind-numbing Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is believed that John escaped martyrdom, and died of natural causes near the end of the first century.

In his detailed gospel, John presents a play by play encounter that is singularly significant. What follows is my paraphrasing and shaping of that story.

Radical Love

It was about noontime. Jesus was going from Judea to Galilee. Much of the Mideast was desert climate, which meant it was probably incredibly hot.

The most direct route to Galilee was through the region of Samaria. Jesus and his disciples could have easily skirted the border of Samaria, avoiding the country completely, which would’ve been the inclination of a good Jew of that era.

When they approached the town of Sychar, they had been walking in the heat for a long while. The disciples went on ahead to purchase food, but Jesus, tired from traveling, sat down by the well to rest.

A Samaritan woman arrived to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink, which was a shock to this unnamed woman. Jews did not have any dealings or even associate with Samaritans. When it came to religious and social issues, the Jews and Samaritans were enemies, and had been for four hundred years.

The problem with Samaria was the people who lived there. It was populated with Samaritans. They were not pure Jews by heredity for they had been ethnically mixed over generations of inter-marriages with the Arab race.

Samaritans were not even faithfully practicing the Hebrew religion. They were blending in vestiges of their earlier pagan religions, which sounds like the pluralistic new age society we live in.

Christians often endeavor to isolate or insulate themselves from it. Some church-going folks are inclined to avoid certain places and certain people because they’re not our kind.

When we do so, we make a critical mistake because Jesus crossed all barriers to share the good news with everyone. Those who claim to follow him must do no less. Jesus set a standard that is supposed to be the guideline for our behavior.

Imagine this scenario in present-day terms: A prominent Israeli rabbi strolls through a Palestinian neighborhood. He stops for a rest and strikes up a conversation with a Palestinian woman of ill-repute.

This is exactly what is happening here in the exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. It’s thoroughly uncompromising, but we must grasp that Jesus of Nazareth was revolutionary because God’s love is radical.

Jesus Took Risks

God’s love is unconditional, reaching the depths of human depravity. Grace is for everyone, so Jesus took risks to meet people on their turf, at their point of need.

This woman felt unworthy and she wasn’t even sure that talking to Jesus was legal. Much of their conversation was likely spent with her glancing over her shoulder in anticipation of condemnation from some quarter.

She was accustomed to being sneered at, talked about, looked down upon, and cast out because she had a terrible reputation. It was so bad that she came to the well at the noon hour to avoid the fine, upstanding women of Sychar. 

Certainly she’d made some poor choices along the way, but society had not been kind to her. She’d had five husbands and was presently living with a man, which has prompted some scholars to suggest that she was the promiscuous town harlot.

Reconsider that idea: In those days of a dominant Patriarchal society, women had no rights. It was the husband who had the power to get the divorce, so one way or another, this woman had been discarded five times.

She was an outcast. Most people would have ignored her or turned away from her for fear of guilt by association. 

Not Jesus; he reached out to her. She was astonished by his request for a drink, and exclaimed, “You are a Jew and I’m a Samaritan, and you want to associate with me? Is this legal? Don’t you know who I am?”

Think for a moment about that person or group of people we’ve snubbed or ignored for fear of guilt by association. Tell me, where did we ever get the idea that we were better than anyone? 

It’d be from religion, not from relationship; from religion, not from God’s Word.

God’s Word tells me that the only difference between me and the vilest offender is grace—God’s grace is living water that is transformational.

"Saving knowledge is diffused
 over the earth, not like
 sunlight but like torchlight,
 which is passed from hand
 to hand."
     ~James Strachan~

When it comes to taking the initiative with the good news, do we follow Christ's example?

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Jesus Is Our Example

Jesus reached out to this woman; he took the initiative and engaged her in dialog.

Jesus shattered barricades and destroyed accepted cultural norms. Not only did he share water with her, but conversation, and in that communication, he revealed who he was, and how he could provide the living water of forgiveness and new life.

The result was the woman became Christ’s ambassador to Sychar. Scripture tells us that “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”

The writer John, that Son of Thunder, also gave us this tidbit to mull over: “So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."”

We who follow Christ are supposed to mimic Jesus of Nazareth’s example—do we?

Do we share grace or do we hoard it? Do we build relationships with those outside our circle? Do we meet people on their terrain or expect them to come to us?

Here’s the deal: Our society is post-Christian. We must communicate the good news of Christ in the language of the culture and in its territory. Doing so will put us into conflict with some tenderhearted and well-meaning church-going individuals. It’s the tightrope on which I’ve spent the bulk of my ministry life.

"You are the light of the
 world. A city on a hill 
 cannot be hidden. Neither
 do people light a lamp and
 put it under a bowl. Instead
 they put it on its stand, 
 and it gives light to 
 everyone in the house. 
 In the same way, let your 
 light shine before men, 
 that they may see your 
 good deeds and praise your 
 Father in heaven."
    ~Jesus of Nazareth~

Let It Shine

Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” 

What was true of those first-century disciples is true for modern-day ones. Please note that Jesus did not say that we were to be light—he said we are light. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, but according to Jesus, we are the light of the world. 

The light of the world; light can best be seen in darkness. A single candle can shine brightly in midnight’s darkest gloom. Put the same candle in a brightly-lit room at high noon along with a hundred other candles and no one will be able to recognize its light.

What’s up with the light of the world is this: The darkness is not in the holy huddles of our Christian gatherings. The darkness that permeates our world is entrenched in our backyards, workplaces, classrooms, bowling alleys, and taverns. It is in those places where we must shine, individually and collectively. 

As Jesus purposefully made his way into the forbidden Samaria, we are to meet hurting people on their home field. There are those who’ve been disposed of and left alone, and we are to take the initiative to engage them in conversation.

We are the light of the world, so we must be intentional about building relationships that make a difference for eternity. After all, if God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t he shine through us?

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Comments 46 comments

carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Christ was an example for all mankind to emulate.. if they only would. Great post.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

carolina muscle - Thanks. You're quick. I appreciate your words.


Jonathan DeWayne Allsup 6 years ago

A great reminder...especially in the dark early morning hours (in this case, not a metaphor).


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Jonathan. Don't stub your toe in the dark. :>)


msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

What a beautifully written and powerful hub. I bow to you for making things appear so simple. Thank you.

I used to claim to be knowledgeable of the Bible [smiles]. After all it is my heritage.

I don't anymore. The intellect has a way of interpreting things according to the filters of our ego. It is not the same as knowing it from the heart. I do not read the Bible the same way I used to. I had to "unlearn" in order to "feel" the messages instead of interpreting it like a textbook.

Thank you for this hub.


Timely profile image

Timely 6 years ago from United States

Absolutely great! You have embraced the call to serve as a Christian. Grace is for all, it is not up to us to determine where it is to bless, but ours to deliver...Thank you for this hub. It is a light desperately needed by all and brightened my day!

God bless you Ken in your wisdom!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

msorensson - You're welcome. Thank you for your very kind words. Head knowledge is good, but heart knowledge is what changes our lives & perspective. Blessings to you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Timely - Thank you. Your affirmation & encouragement is much appreciated. Blessings.


SummerSteward profile image

SummerSteward 6 years ago from Duluth MN

Your passion and dedication is moving. A wonderful story, thank you for sharing!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Summer - You're welcome. Thank you for your encouraging words.


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Ken,

My strength in Christ is the knowing He crossed all sorts of lines to reach out to me. From this I have courage to do the same. Sometimes the very people I don't want to come across he puts right in my path, and compells me to reach out to them. I love the message of the woman at the well and the "radical love" that took Jesus on the path to Samaria to imparrt to her sweet salvation. And I love that as a result many believed in Him. Great message

Thanks

CS


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

coffeesnob - Thank you for your strong words of testimony. Peace & blessings to you.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Ken, a paramount hub! I read it then took pause with eyes closed to breath it in and mentally sift through what parts of it "Struck'n Stuck" and it was the child hood memories of Sunday School. The class room inside the front wall of the building Where glass bricks in the shape of a cross were the only light source from the world outside. Then the song "if your happy and you know it clap your hands" came to mind, but that is all I faintly remember from it. I do remember as a kid the simplicity of clapping hands was so much fun. Then "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world" then "Jesus loves me this I know, 'cuz the Bible tells me so". That was when I thought how simple and fun my life seemed to be in those times on Sunday mornings, before the world invaded my heart and mind dragging me down to a level of thinking "I've got more and better things to be doing right now" a feeling that got stronger and more intense day by day. Forcing me to rebel against the leadership of my Pop and make life hard for both of us. I wonder if, may be they did, someone other than my Pop would have told me what was happening and who it was that was dragging me down, if I would have listened?

It's a hub that brings me back to the stark realization that "unless I become that child again, in no way, will I see the Kingdom of God".

Thanks for the reminder of my mission against myself.


Saintatlarge profile image

Saintatlarge 6 years ago from Canada

Ken, Great read and i who enjoy the simplicity of the gospel commend you. i am thankful that my introduction into sharing the gospel came through a coffee house and jail ministry. Except for the grace of God there go I...

High "FIVE", my friend! Blessings St.L.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

The sentement,to love and to forgive your enemies

was a truly unique thought to have back then and what make it truly hard to be a christian...


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

50 Caliber - Thanks so much for sharing your memories & experiences here. I appreciate them. Peace & blessings to you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Saintatlarge - Thank you. We do have a way of complicating it, don't we? Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Mentalist acer - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Yes, truly unique & truly difficult, but entirely necessary. Blessings.


kaja_mel profile image

kaja_mel 6 years ago from Saraland, AL

What beautiful writing. I hope it's okay to share this with my friends and family through email. They'll love it.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

kaja_mel - Thank you. Yes, by all means share with whoever you wish. Blessings.


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

My dearest Ken...

Everything boils down to attitude and free will! We cannot blame God for our darkness or lack of shine thereof. He is so kind as to let us choose what we want to become. Now, what we choose to become is an entirely different ball game, and God has nothing to do with it!

Great reminder, my friend!

Warmest regards and infinite blessings to you, Ken!

Al


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Hmmmm, I think your title says it very well, Ken! Very well put and thanks for sharing it with us! Very good indeed!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Mystique1957 - Thanks for stopping in & sharing good words. Well said. Blessings to you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Ann Nonymous - Thank you for the affirmation. Much appreciated.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great hub! Thanks Ken!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

You're welcome, Micky Dee. Thanks for reading & sharing.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Hi Ken! Hope you have a joyous Easter-tide. Reaching out to our neighbours, at least here in a huge multi-cultural metropolis like Toronto,seems to be the hardest thing one can do. Most are so wrapped up in their own little worlds, and have no time for one another, and more to the point don't care what you have to share. My reality is that I am only given an ear, when I am preaching to the already converted, otherwise nobody seems to give a hoot what you have to say.

Brother Dave.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dave - Thank you. Happy Easter to you also.

I hear you. It is always difficult to make inroads. Takes time & there are lots of deadends & frustrations. All we can do is the best we can & pray for the strength to faithfully try as God provides opportunity. It is always a challenge to us, I think.

We do best by encouraging each other to keep pressing on & working at it.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Hi Ken, Wonderful hub. Your writing flows with each word. The presence of the Holy Spirit is touching my heart. This is a powerful message that is overlooked. Your hub is a great reminder for me in my daily walk with Christ. Love Never Fails.

He is RISEN. He Lives. Have a Beautiful Easter Celebration Ken. Shine on Bro, Your sis in Chirst. Sending a big hug. +++


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

skye2day - Thank you for your kind words. They are much appreciated. Blessings & Happy Easter to you.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 6 years ago from North Carolina

Ken, your Hub didn't go in quite the direction I thought it would from your opening. It was much more disturbing than that. Samaria is never comfortable when Jesus insists on going there instead of avoiding the issue. I hope Jesus shines through me, but I dare not assume he does. Meanwhile, I think you have achieved his purpose with this profound Hub.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

allpurposeguru - It's good to hear that I went in a direction you didn't anticipate. Thank you for visiting & sharing good words. Blessings & encouragement to you.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

Very good observation--how sometimes, we shun people who are not like us. Jesus was a radical--He truly met people where they were at that time, regardless of what the general populace was thinking. Thanks for sharing information in such an engaging way.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

You're welcome, anginwu. Thank you for visiting & sharing thoughtful words. Blessings to you.


RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

A refreshing hub and a marvelous presentation on Jesus and His interactions with man. May we all strive to emulate the soul saving lessons of His life.

Blessings,

Forever His,


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

RevLady - Thank you. Appreciate the affirmation. Blessings.


A M Werner profile image

A M Werner 6 years ago from West Allis

Ken, using the image of an Israeli speaking and opening dialogue with a Palestinian is precisely to the point of being a light and crossing lines drawn by man. In such a violent world where religion and appearances mean so much for so many, having the Holy Spirit can give us the power to walk peacefully beyond these borders. Peace.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

AM - Thanks for picking up on that illustration. That's what radical love is all about. Blessings & Happy Easter.


Ange Stroup profile image

Ange Stroup 6 years ago from Texas

I can't even read it all without shouting SEE!!!!!!!!AWESOME!!


UlrikeGrace profile image

UlrikeGrace 6 years ago from Canada

Very pertinent and timely hub Ken, Jesus said if your light is darkness how great is that darkness! If we who have the True Light of Jesus Christ do not allow His Light to not only change us but show as you have so excellently explained what hope does any of us have?

We need to come out of the grave...allow our grave clothes to be removed and live and shine His light. Blessings to you thanks so much for this.

UlrikeGrace


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Ange.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

UlrikeGrace - Thank you. That grave clothes imagery is a great metaphor. And quite true.


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Ken, a beautifully written and profound hub. It gives much to think about. If we would all live, just sharing love and forgiveness, we would be so much better off. Thanks for writing.

Namaste.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Deborah - Thank you for your good words. Much appreciated. Blessings.


Fluffy77 profile image

Fluffy77 5 years ago from Enterprise, OR

Ken, you are a pleasure to read. I adore how you illustrate your writing too well done.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Fluffy77 - Thank you. You are far too kind. Blessings.

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