The mission Jesus gave His followers is summed up by the Great Commandment and the Great Commission: Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples. But the question I’m often asked is “how?”. How do I engage with people far from God? How do invite people into spiritual conversations?
In John 4, Jesus engaged the woman at the well in a conversation that led to an invitation for her to follow Him. This encounter at Jacob’s well points to the central theme of Scripture…that God is on a search and rescue mission to redeem mankind. There are 5 principles in this passage that show us how to engage with people far from God:
Principle #1: GO WHERE PEOPLE ARE (John 4:1-6)
- John 4:4 says Jesus HAD to go through Samaria. But the reality is that Jews didn’t have to go through Samaria. In fact, they would often take the long route to avoid Samaria when traveling between Judea and Galilee.
- Jesus knew it was His duty to go where lost people were.
- Our greatest mission field is our neighborhoods, our streets, our offices, our apartment complexes, our gyms, and our schools.
- In other words, where we are on the map is where God’s called us to be on mission.
Principle #2: BE A FRIEND (John 4:7-9)
- Even though Jesus was tried from traveling, we willingly and intentionally befriended the woman at the well.
- He teaches us that it’s important to step out of our comfort zone and enter the world of people far from God. Because He constantly did this throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was often referred to as a “friend of sinners”.
- Jesus shows us that we have to be good news before we can share the good news of the Gospel.
- If we are going to reach people with the Gospel we have to meet them where they are and be their friend.
Principle #3: SHARE THE GOSPEL (John 4:10-15)
- The woman at the well has tried drinking from every well around her, but she has left them all just as thirsty as she was when she came.
- Jesus tells her that He came to offer her living water and that if she drinks from His well she will never thirst again.
- He shares the good news of the Gospel with her.
- The people we come in contact with everyday where we live, work, and play are thirsty.
- People we know are trying to quench that thirst with success, work, addictions, and relationships. Only to be left thirsty.
- We must carry the Gospel to them and introduce them to Jesus who offers them a new life.
Principle #4: AVOID ARGUMENTS (John 4:19-26)
- She tries to draw Jesus into a centuries-old debate between the Samaritans and Jews over the proper place to worship.
- While Jesus tactfully corrects her misperceptions, He refuses to argue with her.
- We have to understand that arguments do not lead anyone to the Savior…even if you win!
- Acts 15:19 says, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”
- We are not here to be angry with the world or condemn the world. That only makes it difficult for people to turn to God.
- We must keep in mind that we are simply sinners telling other sinners about Jesus!
Principle #5: OBSERVE GOD’S POWER AT WORK (John 4:28-30; 39-42)
- Once she meets Jesus, she immediately becomes a missionary inviting her entire village to “come and see” the Messiah.
- The Gospel begins to spread to her entire town all because Jesus met her where she was, invited her into a conversation as a friend, and shared the good news of the Gospel with her.
What I love about Jesus’ method is that it is something all of us can do. You don’t need a seminary degree to meet people where they are and be a friend that’s willing to introduce them to Jesus. We should make it our goal for EVERYONE that follows Jesus to help SOMEONE ELSE meet Jesus! To do that we must be willing to enter their world and go where they are. We have to reach out and be friends and invest relationally with people far from God. Then we have to be ready to share the Gospel and invite them to “come & see” the Savior!