By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
A number of our great preachers are aging – Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, Tony Evans, and of course Billy Graham. They even make me feel young. I wondered recently, who will take their place? The fact is, though, that young people may do a better job of witnessing to the present generation than even the greatest preacher.
It’s no fault of our beliefs, but our language may be stilted, our customs strange, and sometimes frankly we Christians can be downright clumsy in trying to share our faith.
Two-way communications can be difficult. It’s an art form to be able to share with another person on a level that brings understanding and change. One major drawback to witnessing is that many people are fearful or self-conscious about how to approach others on the subject.
We can look to Jesus and how he shared one-on-one, including a great story found in the 4th chapter of John. He was gentle, respectful and insightful in his dealings with the woman at the well. His first move was to get out of the ivory tower and “cross the street” where he would encounter her. The scripture says, “And he had to pass through Samaria” (John 4:4). It’s true that going from Judea from Galilee would have been the most direct route. However, any other Jew who made the journey was always careful to go way around Samaria because of cultural, religious and racial differences they felt were too great to overcome. The thing to notice is that Jesus sought her out, as he does each of us in whatever state we are.
His next move was to stop at Jacob’s well, which was common ground for both Jews and Samaritans. He found the one place that commemorated a person they both loved – Jacob – and one thing they both needed, which was water. Next, he kept his message simple, stating that he needed a drink of water; then he was ready to offer her something she desperately craved. A woman of bad reputation, she’d come to the well in the heat of the day perhaps because she’d been banned from coming when the other townspeople went there.
There were a number of things Jesus could have pointed out and such as the woman’s five husbands and the fact that she was “living in sin.” Instead, he focused on the positive and praised her for her honest, candid answer, “I have no husband.” She didn’t need berated; she knew she needed to do better. She longed for water that would satisfy forever, so he didn’t demean her for her lifestyle.
Finally, he refused to be sidetracked by the controversy she introduced regarding which temple they should worship in. Arguing with non-believers about inconsequential matters is pointless. The most powerful thing we all need to know is that Jesus is here to meet the needs of our life.
In choosing to witness to the woman at the well, Jesus recognized her potential and her worth. When she left her water pots and ran back to the city to invite the men in town to hear Jesus, she was the one best able to articulate a message of hope and deliverance to her town. Each of us possesses the ability to speak that same language to people we know.