If the first step to becoming a disciple is hearing about Jesus, then the first step to fulfilling our mission to make disciples is speaking about Jesus. But talking about spiritual matters can be difficult. So many of us learned early on that discussions of politics and religion don't belong in polite society. While we're still not sure how safe it is to bring up your presidential picks at the next family gathering, bringing up Jesus should be a natural part of our lives as Christians. So how do we make spiritual conversations "normal?" Jesus offers us a good model in His interactions with the Samaritan woman at the well.
Jesus initiates conversation
Jesus takes a risk in speaking with a single woman at the edge of town in the middle of the day. He could have thought about the scandal and avoided her, or at least sat quietly, waiting for her to come to him. Instead, Jesus takes the lead in approaching her. Sometimes initiating conversation feels like a huge risk, especially if we are introverted or uncomfortable, but before we can have a spiritual conversation, we have to make contact with an ordinary conversation. It's up to us to step out and speak up.
Jesus starts with the ordinary, physical need for water.
Jesus doesn't start the conversation by asking the woman if she knows whether or not she would go to heaven if she dies tonight, or if she believes in Hell, or if he can talk through the Scriptures with her. He starts with something ordinary -- small, even -- he asks for a drink of water. From there, Jesus makes a connection to the woman's spiritual needs, using the physical as a bridge to the spiritual. We, too, can find common interests that connect to something spiritual.
Jesus focuses on the woman's personal story
Jesus, being God, already knows the woman's personal history, and uses that knowledge to gain her trust and find a specific way to help her. We don't have the benefit of sovereign knowledge, so our job is to get to know people for who they are, to listen to their story, and then to think about how Jesus can help them, personally. Conversations about spiritual things work best when they connect with our lives, so we should work to connect the gospel to the lives of those we come in contact with.
Jesus brings hope and life
Although Jesus talks to the woman about her sin, he doesn't end on a down note. Jesus brings hope and life to the woman at the well, and he's so excited about it that he basically forgets to eat! Spiritual conversations can feel so difficult when we're focused on ourselves and our worries, but when we focus on the joy and hope of the gospel, spiritual conversations can be exciting!
Questions to Consider:
- Are we willing to have spiritual conversations?
- How can we integrate spiritual conversations into our everyday lives?
- Have we prayed and asked God to show us who to speak with and to help us speak meaningfully into their lives?
- Who does God want each of us to speak with today?