Believe the Words, Live the Experience

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 King 22-23; John 4:31-54

39 Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of his word, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42, Common English Bible).

As I read this lesson from John 4, the end of the story of the Woman at the Well, my mind wandered a bit to Thomas. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. I am happy to share those thoughts with you.

Thomas, though he probably wouldn’t like that I said it, remember Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along. But as I read I couldn’t help but think of Thomas, after the resurrection, when all the disciples were gathered in the room when Jesus appeared, but Thomas wasn’t there. Later, when he came back he wouldn’t believe because he hadn’t personally experienced the risen Christ.

A week later, Jesus appeared again, this time when Thomas was present. Thomas shouted, “My Lord and My God.” We will actually get to that lesson, probably next month, (I haven’t looked that closely at the schedule). Thomas believed when he experienced.

Thomas was a person who needed to experience. In that way, Thomas wasn’t like the Samaritans at all. When the woman at the well first went into town and told them, “Come meet a man who told me everything I ever did,” they were so desperate for something to grab, they even took the word of a woman they didn’t like. They didn’t like her moral values. She was an outcast, and still, they believed. They accepted what she had to say despite who she was and what she had done.

But that is not the end of the story. Here is where the Samaritans came to be much like Thomas. Now they believed, not on someone else’s words, but on their own experience with Christ.

The world is full of people like Thomas. “I’m not gonna believe nothin’ ’til I see it for myself. Why would I believe you anyway? Why I’d just as soon play with a copperhead than to believe you and I’m not playin’ with no copperhead.”

He didn’t see. He couldn’t trust. He had to experience. We tend to give Thomas a lot of grief because he wanted proof, not words. Yet for too many of us, it is the same thing. All too many of us are not going to believe, we are not going to accept on faith because we want what we can see, what we can experience. Nothing short of our own personal experience will make us believe.

Jesus said, “You believe because you have seen because you have experienced. Blessed are those who have not seen and still believed.” Faith, by its very definition, is more than and less than what we can experience. Faith is moving forward, without proof, without personal experience to accept and believe in God.

Still, the story of the woman at the well is important. Because of her and her words, people came to accept the gift Jesus brought to them, the gift he brings to us. They accepted because of what she said. They truly were ready to live the life when they experienced. Think about this, if not for the woman’s words, their hearts may never have been prepared and they may have miss directed their experience and never came to know what Jesus could do.

God calls on us to tell people around us, “Come meet the man who has made a difference for me.” Then, when the time comes, they will believe even stronger from their own experience.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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