Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 29, 2020
They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.’ John 4:42
Wisdom is often found in learning to avoid extremes. For example, in my own faith journey, I was largely formed in a deeply individualistic and privatized approach to the Christian faith. Jesus came to save me, loved me, and died for me. Rarely did I hear about his plan for the whole of creation or the invitation before me to join him in giving my life away for the good of others. However, one can go to the other extreme and only view faith through a corporate or generational lens. You may self-identify as a Christian based on your ethnic heritage or the faith of those who raised and shaped you into who you are today. This vision avoids the individualistic lens yet fails to realize the deeply personal nature of our life with Christ.
The Christian life is always an embodied existence. We learn this from the Incarnation itself, and see it time and time again in the life and witness of Jesus throughout the gospels. Jesus enters into the world of specific people and speaks freedom and truth into their deepest sources of pain and brokenness. As the woman in this story exclaims, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done” (John 4:29)! Likely, if you are reading these words and consider yourself a follower of Jesus, it is because of a similar story. You knew someone first hand whose life had been transformed by Jesus Christ, so much so that you longed for their experience to be your own. As it says in verse 39, “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’”
Yet in the moments that follow this verse, we learn something profound about the spiritual life. Our personal transformation is not meant simply for ourselves but is to be shared and celebrated with others. Similarly, we must move from an impersonal belief in Jesus to an embodied experience of the life of God.
“So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world” (John 4:40-42).
There is an undeniable weariness we are all experiencing in this moment as weeks turn into months and the confusion and disorientation of this year carries on. As such, there is an equally great risk we run of rushing to extremes in our faith journey. We may be tempted to close the doors and pull the blinds, and simply nurture an entirely personal and private life with God. On the other hand, we may fail to pursue a personal encounter with our Lord and instead rely on “second hand” stories of faith, a corporate story to which we belong but have little experience or personal transformation. Today we are invited to be like the people in John 4, hearing of God’s goodness and faithfulness in others, seeking him out and being healed personally, and then boldly sharing that good news with others around us!
Father, keep us close to Jesus in these remarkable times, longing to encounter him and have the courage to share this good news with others, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Has your faith become overly private or overly dependent on the faith of others?
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