I’ve been talking about loving our Samaritans. I believe God is prophetically calling us to our Samaritans right now. The “Samaritans” are the “them” in the “us vs. them” polarized world we live in. They’re on the other side of our politics; they’re the people we think deserve God’s judgment. But the truth is, Jesus loves the people we hate. He also loves the people who hate us.
The church has typically responded to our “Samaritans” like James and John in Luke 9:53-55. We want God to call fire down on these “wicked Samaritans” like Elijah did! Sadly, we hear this a lot today, Christians using the Old Testament Scripture to judge people we don’t like as if Jesus never happened.
Beloved, if our hearts aren’t right toward people, or if we think they’re a target of our evangelistic efforts, or worse, they’re the enemy, THEY KNOW IT! People know when you don’t love them, when you’re being disingenuous, when you’re judging them. You don’t have to say a word! You’re already communicating clearly!
On that note, I would like to continue the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). She has an encounter with Jesus at the well, we read the following reaction:
28 All at once, the woman left her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, 29 “Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be the One we’ve been waiting for.” 30 Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus. (John 4:28-30 TPT)
My question here is this: What compelled this woman to tell everyone in her city about Jesus? And why did the people respond to her testimony?
Was it Jesus’ clever argument? Did He prove to her that He had the correct theology? The right political view? Of course, the answer is no. That would be absurd. But my question is, why do we think this is an effective way to convince people?
To dig deeper into this question, let’s look at Jesus’ response:
35 As the crowds emerged from the village, Jesus said to his disciples, “Why would you say, ‘The harvest is another four months away’? Look at all the people coming—now is harvest time! Their hearts are like vast fields of ripened grain—ready for a harvest. (John 4:35 TPT*)
I love how The Chosen TV Series depicts Jesus’ conversation with this woman about true worship (see John 4:21-24) and her response as follows:
Woman: “You mean it won’t be about mountains or Temples anymore?”
Jesus: “Soon, just the heart…”
Woman: “You promise?”
Jesus: “I promise”
At that point, she leaves her waterpot and runs off to the village to tell everyone! You can watch the scene here:
I think this is something we’ve forgotten (or never learned in the first place). As I’ve said before many times, everything begins and ends with the heart. We believe with the heart (Rom.10:10); we’re to worship God with the heart (John 4:21), and it’s the condition of our heart that determines the course of our life (Prov.4:23).
Yet, we evangelicals have reduced Christianity to theology, receiving everything with our heads, thinking we know something. But where has this head-knowledge world has gotten us? And this kind of living has also affected our society as a whole. We’ve flattened our world down to the limitations of our finite earthbound thinking. It’s this kind of knowledge only makes us sick in our soul—divisive, arrogant, and unteachable.
But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. (1 Cor.8:1b-2 NIV*)
Listen to what Solomon, considered the wisest man, said about head-knowledge.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief. (Eccl.1:16-18 NIV*)
The truth is, we will learn nothing whatsoever from God with only our head. Spiritual knowledge requires spiritual discernment, which requires an open heart to receive it by faith. We believe first, then we see…
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Cor.2:14 NIV*)
This is also why it’s absolutely pointless to argue with someone about the things of God who has a closed heart, whether their religious or an atheist. It doesn’t matter. A closed heart means a closed mind. It’s always in that order. Faith is always a matter of the heart.
So, what can we learn from this woman’s response to Jesus?
First, we encounter God, not through our head, but with an open heart. Then our head will understand what our heart already knows. This is universaly true, by the way. We convince ourselves of something for emotional reasons, then we justify our decision with logic afterward. Every good salesperson knows this.
Our heart is also fickle and duplicitous, if we’re not honest with our own motives. This is where the Living Word can help us (see Heb.4:12). We let the Bible study us so our heart stays healthy and teachable.
Nonetheless, the heart is the gateway to everything, so it must come first.
Second, the key to the harvest is through the heart, not the head. But it must start with our hearts. This is why I think God has been using the pandemic to upgrade our thinking, to reset our perspective and priorities, to reset our hearts so that we will look again at how Jesus interacted with people and do that. Just saying.