29 Jul Jesus is Personal
You might have wondered how this week’s study related to Ryan Wolfe’s message about Jesus being personal. As I read in the gospel of John about these encounters Jesus had with people I do not see them in isolation but rather as pieces of a puzzle that when put together give us a more complete picture of who Jesus is. Last week, we discussed how Jesus called Nicodemus out of the shadows of pride, we, and me into the light. Part of that discussion was that Nicodemus and we can be illuminated by Christ to be a light. A light. Not THE light. I felt it was important to spend some time reflecting on the thought that we are not God, but we are God’s and that by the power of the Holy Spirit we are given the privilege of reflecting the light of Jesus and certifying to others that God is truthful and that they can trust Jesus for their salvation.
It is only by stepping out of the shadows into the light that our “religion” becomes a personal relationship with Jesus that positions us in His presence, transforms us by the renewing of our minds, and clothes us with power so that we can “shine like stars in the sky as we hold firmly to the Word of life“(Philippians 2:15-16). We cannot reflect the light of Jesus from the shadows.
As I was praying for our church last week, I “saw” us all standing in the rows of our worship center, quite comfortable in the shadow of “we”. But there was a beam of light just in front of each of us, beckoning, inviting us to step into it. I found myself praying for people to have the courage to step into that beam of light – to step out of the shadows of pride, we, and me and into the light of Jesus. It was so clear that until we were willing to be in the light one on one with Jesus in total honesty and surrender that we would be powerless and of no use in the Kingdom How awesome it would be if one by one we stepped forward into that beam of light and were illuminated by Christ! Can you imagine how it would look? Better than a Christmas Eve candlelight service in which the candles are snuffed out before we leave the building – We would be lit up with the eternal fire of the Holy Spirit, bearing it into the world!
In John 4, we see Jesus inviting a Samaritan woman into the light. He disregards social barriers and initiates conversation with a woman – and not just a woman, but a promiscuous woman who was racially disdained by the Jews. Though the people of God did not reflect the love of God, the Son of God did. They would not have spoken to her, but Jesus not only spoke to her, He took the time to draw her out…to pursue her right where she was.
Jesus spoke to her about living water that would satisfy her thirst forever. It sounded too good to be true, but she was enticed. Could it be true? Did you ever wonder, “What if God could really change my situation, meet my need, heal me….satisfy me?” “What would happen if I trusted God fully?” In those moments, Jesus is inviting you to step into the light.
Jesus made it clear that He chose to have conversation with her not out of ignorance of her sin, but with full knowledge of it. He has full knowledge of your sin too. Yet He chooses to engage you in conversation. Will you avoid the truth and change the subject as she did?: “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem” (1John 1:9). Or will you step into the light and allow Him to purify you from all unrighteousness?
I get very impatient and weary of small talk so I appreciate how Jesus cuts to the chase: “Woman, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” True worshipers step into the light, out of the confines of religion into the power of a personal relationship with Jesus. Religion has a form of godliness but denies its power which is to be found in the close relationship of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – the gift of God through faith in Jesus for salvation (2 Timothy 3:5).
The Samaritan woman begins her faith journey with the little knowledge that she has. “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” She didn’t have all the answers. She didn’t completely understand, but she had quit avoiding the truth and was ready to take the next step into greater truth which Jesus gave her, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Jesus rewarded her earnest seeking (Hebrews 11:6) and showed her who He was. She, in turn, brought others to Jesus.
You don’t have to have all the answers and understand everything before you step out in faith. Faith is being confident of what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) Faith propels you to step into the light and with each next step of faith you take as you walk in that light you will “abound in love for Christ and grow more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9-10). You will be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” In other words, you will be illuminated by Christ and be a light reflecting THE light, Jesus Christ, to a lost world desperately in need of a Savior!