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

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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