Short Meditations in John 4: 28. Pose Questions
Jn 4:28,29 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Many of us in the evangelical wing of the Church clearly believe in dogmatic witness. I say this from having witnessed it many times and felt grieved over it. Dogmatic witness says, ‘You are a sinner, you need Christ, repent and be saved.’ Now each of those two statements and that instruction is true but, I suggest, when we do that, so often we are trying to take God’s place and do His work – the work that only He can do – of saving people by convicting them with His Holy Spirit.
Now this woman presents us with a much more gentle and gracious approach. A much more common approach in life in a whole variety of circumstances is, “Hey, come and see what I’ve found.” It is a natural wish to share something of interest. In this woman’s case the point of interest is a man who has the ability to tell you things he shouldn’t know, things about your life. Now I guess it wasn’t a comfortable exercise being confronted by Jesus with her dysfunctional lifestyle but she now uses what he did as a point of interest to catch people’s attention.
So a gracious starting point is, I suggest, one of humble testimony. There is no bragging here – I’ve met someone you haven’t! – which sometimes does tend to be the feeling conveyed by some people’s testimonies. She of course, has had to face her dysfunctional life style and so knows she hasn’t anything to boast about – but she has got an experience to share. The best testimony in the New Testament, I always think, is of the blind man: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (Jn 9:25) Can you see the humility in that? I haven’t got all the answers. All I have is what has happened to me. That is the power of testimony.
So she starts with a humble and even gentle testimony and then moves on to the question: “Could this be the Christ?” A question opens up the way for people to make their own assessment and of course it provokes thought. Instead of making people defensive – you need to be saved – it allows them to enter your realm of thinking in their own time. So often, I believe, we try and push people before they are ready.
I am starting to hear more and more testimonies where hearing about Christ for the first time was merely the first of a number of steps before the individual came to Christ. The question that arises therefore, is will I share that Good News in such a way that my friend will not be threatened but will start off down a path of seeking?