This article is courtesy of Deacon Magazine. Visit them on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/DeaconMagazine.
Most of you are probably familiar with Gatorade®, especially if you've played some kind of sport. Although many sports drinks sit on store shelves today, Gatorade is the one that started it all. It claims to satisfy your thirst better than anything in the world- even better than water.
One of the ads reads, "All kinds of athletes reach for Gatorade. Nothing fuels them better-not water, not juice, not other sports drinks. Professional athletes get going and keep going with Gatorade. You can, too."
Convincing isn't it? But one thing I've noticed is that in all of the claims made by Gatorade, not once have they ever claimed that if you drink their product you'll never be thirsty again. If someone could pull that off, they'd really have something, wouldn't they?
Jesus claimed to have that very ability! In fact, that was the gist of His conversation with the woman at the well in John 4:1-42. This wellknown story from the life of Jesus introduces us both to the purpose for our witness-to share the living water with those who are unsaved-and to His provision for our witness-our personal testimonies.
The woman at the well probably ranked at the top of the list of people who had never been trained to witness. But she had something every believer has-a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As a result of her testimony, many of her neighbors believed in Him (John 4:39-42).
The Purpose: Living Water
The circumstances surrounding this encounter were odd. The fact that she came out to get water at that time of day — and that she came alone — suggests she was an outcast. Typically women came to the well in groups and stayed together for protection. But not this Samaritan woman. Because of her many husbands, few wanted to be seen with her.
Some might think it amazing that Jesus would even go through Samaria, but He loved everyone the same and was committed to providing salvation to all people. Jesus loved the outcasts just as much as those in good standing with society. He loves us all equally, no matter what we've done. He took time for this woman, just as He takes time for us.
Although John did not tell us her name, we can be sure Jesus knew her name. Jesus cared as deeply for her as He did for each disciple who gawked in disbelief that He would talk to such a woman.
Jesus offered her living water- so life-changing she never would thirst again. If you had a cure for dehydration, wouldn't you want to share it in places of drought? Our world is fi lled with people who've never tasted the living water. Won't you share it?
Instead of accepting Jesus' offer, the woman did something common in a witnessing situation. She wanted to argue religion! The potential argument had to do with the history of the Jews and Samaritans.
Samaria was originally known as the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Israelites in the Northern Kingdom had begun worshiping Baal, a heathen deity (1 Kings 16:24-34). King Omri had even built a temple and an altar to Baal in the city of Samaria. Eventually, Samaria became synonymous with the entire Northern Kingdom.
When the Assyrians defeated the Northern Kingdom, they scattered the middle and upper classes throughout the other nations they had conquered. They replaced the dispersed Israelites with heathen from other lands (2 Kings 17:23-41).
These heathen intermarried with the remaining Israelites, a most distasteful and evil thing for a devout Jew. (See Ezra 9-10; Neh. 13.) These "half-breeds" were rejected by their Jewish kinsmen, so the Samaritans constructed their own rival temple on Mount Gerizim around 400 B.C. Still, the Samaritans professed to believe in the God of Israel and awaited the coming of Messiah.¹ (See John 4:25.)
With this background, we can understand why the woman at the well sought to justify her place of worship on Mount Gerizim. By introducing the subject of her religion, she was seeking self-justifi cation.
Conversations about religion offer a great way to introduce your testimony and faith in Christ. A conversation, though, is quite different from a debate or, worse, an argument. Notice that arguing religion is a pitfall Jesus avoided, one that we also should avoid.
This does not mean there is never a time to discuss their questions and objections, but our focus for the moment is that initial witness and opportunity to share our faith. It's not necessary to have all the answers, but you can tell of your own experience and encounter with Christ.
Need an example? Look again at the Samaritan woman. As her conversation continued with Jesus, He shed light on who she is ... and who He is. Somewhere in that process, she believed. The woman who felt ostracized from her own village now returned to those same people and simply told what she had experienced-her testimony.
The result? "Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testifi ed, ‘He told me everything I ever did'" (John 4:39).
This was not just any woman sharing her story. This was a woman sharing her experience with Jesus. It was evident that Jesus knew her heart, and that became the subject of her testimony to her neighbors back in town.
Many from the town put their faith in Jesus and accepted Him as Messiah. They followed the Lord as Savior, the One about whom she spoke.
One way to show others what you believe is simply to invite them to go to church with you. Researchers working with the unchurched made a surprising discovery: 82 percent of the unchurched would probably attend church if someone invited them.²
So what is keeping them from coming to church? It may be something as simple as not being asked! "Would you like to come to church with me?" is a great way to begin a spiritual discussion with your relatives, friends, or neighbors.
Although getting the unsaved into church is a great step in leading them to Christ, church attendance is not the goal. The goal is a relationship with Christ.
Do we, like this woman, tell others we encounter about this life-giving relationship? Take time to brush up on the details of your own testimony. We can learn from the example of the untrained witness from the town of Sychar. She used the incredible power of introducing others to the Savior by using her own personal testimony. You can, too!
1. bible.org [online]. Available from the Internet: http://bible.org/seriespage/woman-welljohn- 41-42.
2. Rainer, Thom S. The Unchurched Next Door (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 24.