If you knew someone was starving of hunger and you had food would you give it to them? Or try this: If you knew someone was dying of thirst and you had a bottle of water would you give them a drink? Most likely you would, right?
If you had an extra water and you saw how dehydrated this person was, you certainly wouldn’t tell them, “I know a place where you can get a drink. Come to this place with me next week because there’s plenty of water there.” No, I’m pretty sure you’d give them a drink right then because you saw how much they needed it…
Yet, when it comes to spiritual water, why is our response typically different? We meet someone that needs the Living Water that we have in us. We see that they are thirsty for the truth and the hope we have in Christ, and we have the opportunity to give them a drink of this living water that they are thirsting for. Then, our inclination is to invite them to get a drink next Sunday when our church gathers again. Why would we do this when we could give them a drink right then? Why would we wait? Below I’m going to share 3 reasons why I believe we are here, and then some practical next steps we can potentially take. First, let’s take a look at this passage from John 4:
When Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, he said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water (from the well) will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
We see that the water Jesus was offering to her was a new life with him that would last forever. He was the living water she was looking for, and it was him that could satisfy the thirst for the rest of her life. She’d never get thirsty again if she drank from it. Jesus saw that she was thirsty, so he offered her a drink. As I stated above, for many of us in the American Church, our first inclination is to invite others to get a drink with us next Sunday. I think there are numerous reasons why we do this instead of giving them a drink right then. I’m not suggesting inviting them to church is a bad thing; actually, it’s a beautiful thing as I continue to do this today. But again, if someone is dying of thirst, why would I make them wait when I could give it to them right away?
Here are 3 reasons why I believe we in the American Church hesitate to give those thirsty a drink right away:
- “We don’t feel equipped.”
I do many trainings with churches and organizations, and I continuously ask them question, “Why is it that we hesitate to engage in God’s mission and share the Gospel with friends, neighbors, or people in our workplaces?” Often I simply hear, “I don’t know how” or “I’ve only learned how to invite someone to church; I’m unsure how to share my faith with someone.” Beyond that, I’ve also noticed that many of us Christians find ourselves in “church activity” and we place ourselves around other Christians so often that we rarely build new relationships with those that are far from God. So, not only do many of us fell ill-equipped to share our faith, we have a hard time thinking of people that need to hear it! Because I work with pastors and Christian leaders during the week, I have to be intentional about creating space in other areas of my life where I can build relationships with those outside of the faith. Our neighborhood, my son’s baseball team, our kids’ schools are all places where we feel God has called us to be intentional. People are not projects. Our goal is never to “convert” people. Our objective is, however, to always learn people’s stories and to unconditionally love and serve them in a way that reflects God’s glory. He draws people to Himself and gracefully invites us to participate in the process. This actually leaves us with zero pressure other than being intentional in forming new relationships. So with neighbors, we’ll start as strangers with them and then become acquaintances as we get to know them a bit. We move from acquaintance to relationship when we hear their story over a meal or some extended time spent together. From there, we have many spiritual conversations and spiritual relationships that have formed because we simply talk about our faith in normal conversation the way we would with church friends. It’s not forced, it’s just simply who we are and how we talk. As God’s Spirit guides, we then have opportunities to share our faith story and connect people to church families and small groups. I think many of us don’t feel equipped because we think we have to “knock it out of the park” and share this perfectly rehearsed Roman’s road version of the Gospel. To be honest, I personally still don’t have Roman’s memorized well enough to feel comfortable sharing it. I’d challenge and even suggest that you actually do have all the necessary tools in Christ and to lead others to living water. If you’ve read any of our previous stuff, you know that these 4 words that have changed everything for us: “Tell me your story.” I dare you to try using this curiosity statement with someone. Watch and see the path it takes you on and notice how marvelous people are. Just be prepared to give them a drink of water when you see that they are thirsty.
- “It’s not our job…”
Share the Gospel? Isn’t that what the church staff and pastors get paid for? I give money to the church; it’s their job to do the ministry and share the Gospel with others. Right?
Not so fast…
It says this in Ephesians 4: Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
Check out what it says again. It actually does not say that the role of the leaders of the church are to do the ministry for the people. No, it states the leaders of the church are to equip God’s people to do his work. Jesus also emphasized every disciple’s role just before ascending, “Go and make disciples of the nations, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach these new disciples everything I’ve taught you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). If you are a follower of Jesus, this commission is for you, and it is for me. The original disciples didn’t take this command lightly and neither should we. In fact, I’m writing this and you’re reading it because they did take this command seriously.
If you’ve been part of Christ’s church for some time and haven’t joined God in his mission and Great Commission, then I’d highly encourage you to begin now! Not because you should feel shame if you don’t, but because the God of the universe has clearly invited you to be a part of his beautiful redemption process to bring His Kingdom to earth. He doesn’t need you, me, or any of us, yet he still invites us to be a part of it with him because he loves us that much. I wouldn’t want any of us to miss out on the joy we receive when we partner with him in his work. Let’s accept our job as his ambassadors for hope and share the living water fountain within us. It leaves no one thirsty again.
3. “We are too busy.”
We are busy people, no doubt. From meetings and work, to kid commitments, to side projects, to exercise, to you name it, we already have filled schedules, do we not? For us personally, many times we have to plan weeks in advance to simply find space to spend quality time with good friends. It’s just how we operate. So how are we going to find the time to “make disciples” and share this “living water” and the love of Christ with those far from God if we can barely find time for ourselves and just a few others?
Well, in Jesus-like fashion, I’ll answer that question by asking another couple of questions…
What if you really didn’t have to “add more things” to your already busy schedule, but simply reframed your intentionality to build relationships with others in those spaces you already were? Here’s what I mean: What if God has placed and positioned you in your neighborhood, in your workplace, or in the places you play not only for your enjoyment, but for his purposes? And what if he’s already placed neighbors, co-workers, and others in your life so that they’d get a glimpse of how wonderful he is through experiencing life with you? Pretend with me for a minute that you actually knew that this were true. That you live in your neighborhood (not because of the deal you got on your house), you work at your workplace (not only to provide for your family), and that you use your free time (not only for personal enjoyment) for God’s Kingdom purposes and not just your own desires. How would knowing this impact your life and others’ lives? I believe it would change the way we viewed the world, God’s mission, and our role in it as His ambassadors. Just the other day, I heard a pastor say, “You’ll never meet a person at work or in your neighborhood that Jesus didn’t die for.” How does that statement affect the way you see others you come in contact with? We, as the Church, are God’s plan to bring about his Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. After a second look, maybe our schedules are actually not an obstacle for others to see God through our lives, but perhaps our schedules are a springboard for Gospel ministry to the world around us. This perspective, if understood correctly, might actually change everything for us and how we see our roles in the Kingdom. The next question then might be, “I wonder how many people in my life there are that are thirsty?”
These are just 3 of the many reasons I’ve heard why we hesitate to share God’s love and living water with other people. Can you think of any others?
Maybe your reason is stated above, or maybe it’s different one. My hope is that you’d wrestle with reasons why you might hesitate and ask God to help you in them. The Christian life is a life-long process, so be encouraged! Finally, we’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or send us a note with your thoughts or questions.
Grace and Peace.
Our ministry, Fiducia, exists to help you in this process. Our mission is to reshape culture for Jesus by sending Christians from their doorsteps into the spaces they live, work, and play. If you’d like to know more about how to go about doing this for yourself, your small group, or your church, send us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out some of our resources at the Fiducia store. We also offer training workshops and consulting in these areas. Just let us know, we’re here to serve you!