This is the 1st in a series: God Unboxed
Hard to believe a little cardboard and packing tape could accomplish so much, isn’t it? Actually, it’s the packing peanuts. Styrofoam is like kryptonite! You take God off His throne, out of His rightful place, and neatly pack Him into a box. Of course, I’m not talking about a literal box (that is, unless you worship a small statue or idol), I’m talking about the box of religion, the packing tape of tradition, and the styrofoam of unbelief. You know: “God would never use her. Do you know who she is?” “We’ve never done it that way before.” “But that’s not the way God did it for me.” As if we have a corner on God, as if He reports to us to check and see what He can and can’t do, where He can and can’t go, who He can and can’t use.
During the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus made sure to completely destroy the box that she used to neatly package her version of God – and, in so doing, poked gaping holes in all of our boxes, too. His methods:
He revealed Himself so clearly, she had nowhere to turn. God seeks to show you WHO He is and WHAT He can do. In John 4:10, Jesus nearly says, ‘I asked you for water, but if you only knew who I am and what I want to give you, you would have asked me!’ She didn’t know so Jesus was revealing Himself as the Christ.
She had been taught about the Messiah and where to worship – but her teachers had stopped short. The importance of worship is not just how or where to worship – but Who to worship. A lack of good teaching has led to many a man-centered church and sermons of psychology instead of the true gospel, one rich in theology (God-learning). But let us not accept the substitute of merely knowing about God. We must press in and discover God Himself. We must not just read the facts of the book, we must get to know the Author. It’s relatively easy to know God, it’s much more difficult to allow God to know you (Matt. 7:21-23).
That’s where the element of thirst enters in. Water is the both the most common and most needful quantity on earth, but it is meaningless until you truly feel its lack. Over your lifetime, you will require 1.5 million gallons of it. You cannot live longer than a week or two without it. It facilitates weight loss and mental concentration. Our Lord uses the simplicity of water and thirst to illustrate this woman’s need. Our need. When someone says they don’t know God, we should understand it is an issue of desire. He has made Himself as available as water. Men do not know God because they don’t want to.
You’d think that revelation is beautiful, but sometimes it painful. It requires a level of transparency that is sometimes difficult. Honest with God is one thing. Honesty with yourself is another. And Jesus goes straight to the wound. He touches the painful part of this woman so He can deal directly with her heart. Upon this transparency is built an added layer of trust. Our unbelief creates a distance from God that clouds His revelation. In order to know God and see Him clearly, we must trust Him with our lives and believe everything He says.
Invitation always follows revelation. Always (Rev. 22:17). God doesn’t simply show off to show off. He is manifested so that we might gain reference and have direction. He invites you to come closer than before – nearer than you’ve ever been.
It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are, or what you’ve done. He invites you to come to the well. If we only knew who God is and what He can do, we would not hesitate to run immediately and drink fully. He doesn’t invite some and refuse others. He doesn’t play favorites. He seeks all to find their everything in Him. He loves all (John 3:16) – no exceptions.
If (that’s the key word), if we will respond to His invite, then we will be satisfied. We will understand a level of fulfillment, contentment, and peace we never knew existed. He not only promises that our every thirst will be quenched, but also that a new river will burst forth inside of us. We won’t be dealing with life ‘running on empty’ any more. Our problem will be ‘more than full’ and gushing out!
Basically, Jesus tells this woman that only He can truly satisfy her cravings and, if she would drink of His living water, He would allow her to be a need-meeting source of living water to others. And that’s exactly what happened! She left her encounter with Christ and created a thirst in the whole town for Him. By the time it was all over, nobody in the town was thirsty; they had all been satisfied in Jesus.
What are you thirsty for? Love, peace, rest, hope? Where are you trying to quench your thirst? Work, friendships, booze, power, wealth? Is it working – does it satisfy? If it doesn’t, then I want to invite you to experience the Water of Life (John 7:37-38).