A couple of weeks ago I spoke about the pain that comes with stepping on Legos and I discussed the reasons why it hurts so much when it happens. That our feet have a lot of nerve endings, and Legos are really really sharp and edgy and they are super strong so there is not give when we step on them, all the force goes right into our tender tootsies.
Now, some companies would try and ignore or negate the negative publicity that comes from such an act or at least minimize it. Not Lego, they seem to relish in it.
After that service, Haupi and Grace told me about visiting Lego Land a few years ago and a mural they saw there which was made completely out of Legos. And they sent me this picture.
Yep, it would appear that Lego embraces every aspect of their product, even the pain it brings.
This is week 7 of our connect series, and over the past couple of months, we’ve been looking at how we have been created to connect. And what that looks like as we connect with ourselves when we connect with other believers and two weeks ago I spoke about our responsibility to help the very youngest of us connect with God.
Last week Rob did a great job talking about how we need to connect at a deeper level with other members of God’s family.
But what about those outside of the family, so to speak.
I know that there are those who would say that we are all children of God and that because of that, each of our salvation is assured, that everybody will go to heaven. But that isn’t what the word of God says, and that isn’t even really what people believe, they believe that people they like will go to heaven.
But, the bible tells us things like “You must be born again” and in John 1:12-13 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So, to all who believed Jesus and to all who accepted Jesus is given the right to become children of God.
So, those who don’t believe Jesus and haven’t accepted Jesus, does that mean that they aren’t given the right to become children of God? Seems to be what it’s saying.
But the scriptures are clear, God wants us to be his children, that’s why Jesus came. Jesus himself tells us in Luke 19:10 Jesus said: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
And that was evidenced in the story that was read for us earlier. What was read was the end of the story, and for the next few minutes we are going to look at the rest of the story and what it teaches us about “Connecting with the Creator’s Future Kids.”
The story begins in John 4 where we read John 4:1-4 Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way.
It was early in Christ’s ministry and he was attracting the attention of the religious leaders, not wanting to clash with them just yet Christ headed back to Galilee. Notice in verse four that it says that He had to go through Samaria on the way, If you we pull up our trusty map here is where Jesus was and here is where he was going and so you are probably thinking, “Of course he had to go through Samaria, that is the shortest route from Judea to Galilee”.
True enough, but believe it or not that isn’t the route that most Jews took from Judea to Galilee. Why? Because Samaritans inhabited Samaria and because of the cultural, ethnic, religious and political animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans they stayed well and truly out of each other’s ways, even if it meant circling all the way around Samaria via the Jordan River.
Even today people avoid going through neighbourhoods that are inhabited by people who are different then they are, if you were honest there are neighbourhoods you avoid in Halifax for that very reason.
But Jesus decided to travel through Samaria, as a matter of fact, the Bible emphasises that he “had” to take that route, not for practical purposes but for a spiritual purpose. The first thing that Jesus’ actions demonstrate is
If We are Going to Connect With God’s Future Kids– We Will Need to Go Where They Are. Let’s face it most of us would rather not be with non-Christians. After all, it is far more enjoyable to hang around with Christians than with non-believers.
We worship the same God, we speak the same language. We don’t blister each other’s ears with smutty language or subject one another to the hazards of second-hand cigarette smoke. And so we tend to gather into safe little gatherings of Christians.
But Jesus had a balanced life. On one hand, he had a Macro-Ministry, you know an desire to reach the world. And on the other hand, he had a Micro-ministry, which meant that he took the time to get to know, befriend lost people one at a time. If we are going to spiritually connect some unconnected people with God then, first of all, we need to meet some unconnected people. Do you have any pre-Christian friends? There are lots of them out there honest.
Reminds me of a story that I heard, seems it was during the civil war and the union troops were taking a hiding from the confederate army and the retreat had just sounded when this young private jumped up out of the trench ran across no man’s land over the ridge into the rebels trench. He belted a rebel with the butt of his rifle threw him over his shoulder and hightailed it back to his own trench where he dropped the unconscious soldier at his commander’s feet. “Where did you get him” asked his captain, “Yonder over the ridge” came the reply “and there’s enough of them over there for everyone”.
Well, friends, that is the truth there are lots of them out there we just gotta go get them.
But you will have to venture into their environment, that means becoming involved in Parent Advisory meetings other parents involved with your children’s sports and band activities getting to know staff in our local stores and service stations and connecting with the people we work with.
We’re not talking about making people our projects. People aren’t dense they know if they matter to us or if we are just looking for another scalp to hang on our church belt.
Jesus hung around with unreligious people enough that he was called a friend of sinners. I’d be willing to wager that it’s been a long time since most of us were thought of as a “friend of sinners”.Let’s continue on with the story, John 4:6-9 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
2) If We are Going to Connect With God’s Future Kids: We Need To Build a Bridge
In other words, you don’t walk up to someone and say, “Hey have you heard the good news, you’re going to hell.” Jesus started by building a bridge, and he did it with five words. It may not seem like asking for a drink of water would be a very effective starting place but when you put it into its cultural context that simple request packed a powerful punch.
Just by starting the conversation Jesus was tearing down a wall as high as the one President Trump wants to build on the Mexican border.
Normally you see, a Jew wouldn’t even drink from the same well as a Samaritan let alone their water bucket and here Jesus was asking for a drink from her cup or dipper.
Instead of shunning her though, Jesus used five well-chosen words to demonstrate his acceptance of her. He opened a relational door by communicating to her that she mattered to him as a person. And it worked. You can tell that she was shocked that Jesus would even bother asking her for a drink.
There are a lot of these evangelistic turning points in our lives, and we make the decision about whether or not we will walk through the open door or simply continue on the path of our lives. While we are taking a walk around the block we can stop to meet the new neighbour who is washing his car, or we can keep right on walking.
We can choose to take a few minutes and get to know the clerk at Tim Hortons, or we can dash home. We can invite a co-worker to lunch or we can eat our meals with Christians.
How many times do we rush past the opportunities to make relational inroads with unbelievers?
Building those relational bridges isn’t very difficult, especially when you know the key: listening to the other person. It’s taking a genuine interest in them and asking them questions, and finding out about their world. It’s expressing authentic curiosity about their situation in life.
When you do that you are bound to find some common interests that you can use to deepen your relationship, and at the same time you are doing what Jesus did that day at the well, you’ll be affirming somebody’s value and dignity just by taking the time to sincerely relate to them.
Who is there in your life that you can build a relational bridge with? The person who has just joined your company and is feeling like an outsider. Or maybe someone at your gym or hockey rink, or maybe the person who you are in class with.
As for Jesus, he made a point to build a brief friendship with the woman at the well, but he wasn’t content to just engage in small talk let’s see what happened next.
John 4:9-10 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
John 4:25-26 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
Jesus has come to the third turning point where he has to make a decision about what he’s going to do. And it is a critically important decision and Jesus chose to turn the conversation from the routine to the spiritual because he knew 3) If We are Going to Connect With God’s Future Kids: We Need to Be Able to Connect them to God
It is imperative that if we are building a relationship to lead someone to the Lord that we will eventually have to talk about spiritual things. Jesus made a conscious choice to steer the conversation into spiritual waters. He could have simply taken a drink and left it at that, thinking well she’ll be convicted by my lifestyle. But he chose to take the initiative and talk about higher things.
Now notice that he didn’t give her a tract asking her to read it when she got a chance, and he didn’t use a canned speech or the Roman Road. Instead, he used the circumstances concerning their conversation, they were talking about water, so he used “Living Water” as an analogy for God.
He touched her curiosity, and he unfolded the messages at the pace that she had set allowing her to take it all in. This is the step where most of us blow it. We aren’t quite sure how to move the conversation toward spiritual things.
The key again is listening. Because when we listen and pay attention and get to know the person a natural opening will evolve. They tell you the kids are driving them nuts, and you can say, “I know what you mean, my kids drive me up the wall too.” or you can make that split-second decision to say, “You know, my kids can be a handful too, but I was amazed at what the Bible said about raising kids.” The door has been open, maybe at that point, you can follow up with a Christian book on bringing up kids.
The openings are there if we are willing to spot them and willing to take them. When those split-second decisions come, take a deep breath, trust God and take the spiritual road.
Once Jesus went through the door into a kingdom conversation with the woman, he came to the fourth turning point: John 4:16-19 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.
Up to this point, the woman seemed intrigued by what Jesus was saying, but she may have been a little sceptical and thought he was a little odd with all this talk about the living water. She may not have been taking him too seriously. And it was here that Jesus came to a turning point and decided to produce evidence that would bolster his credibility. 4) If We are Going to Connect with God’s Future Kids: They Will Need to Have Confidence in the Connection
Bottom line people don’t want to jump from the proverbial frying pan into the fire, if they are going to be rescued they want to make sure that what they are being rescued to is a better option then what they are being rescued from. They want to be sure the cure isn’t worse than the disease.
People aren’t expecting you to be a bible scholar or an expert in apologetics but they want to be able to see that Jesus made a difference in your life and want to know how that happened. It’s been said many times but it remains as true today as it was the first time it was said, “You will be the only Bible most people read”
People will want to see what being rescued looks like and they will need to see that in your life. If what you do and how you live is no different than the rest of the world, then what does it matter what you say?
Because in people’s minds if Christ hasn’t made a difference in your life then he probably won’t make a difference in their life. But when they see the difference and how your life has not just changed but changed for the better then be ready.
Which is probably why the apostle Peter, commanded us, in 1 Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
The final turning point in the story comes after Jesus has offered evidence of His being the Messiah, and the fifth turning point is the woman’s response: John 4:28-30 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
The Samaritan woman makes her decision so quickly that she leaves behind the precious water jug that she has carried all the way from town, and rushes into town to invite people to come and hear Jesus themselves.
Interestingly, when the disciples went into town, they only came back with some bread and dried fish, This woman on the other hand, fresh from her encounter with Jesus bring back a crowd of spiritually lost people. What does this tell us?
5) Those who have been Connected Need to Help Others Connect Can you remember how you were knocked to your knees by “Amazing Grace”? Someone commented that as time goes along, that the freshness wears off and it becomes “fascinating grace”, and then “interesting grace” and then merely “grace”
What about it? Do you still have the urgency? Are you saying “I know people who have got to experience what I experienced! They’ve just got to! And time’s running out”
Our biggest excuse is “It won’t work, they’ll turn me off or I’ll turn them off in Leo Tolstoy’s book “War and Peace” he states, “We lost because we told ourselves we lost.” Don’t talk yourself into a failure, instead of trying relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. People say, “What if I drive them away?” and I wonder, “Where are you afraid you are going to drive them to, Hell Number 2?
The good news is that there will be people in heaven that you were instrumental in getting there. The bad news is that there may be people in hell that you could have been instrumental in getting to heaven if you had taken the opportunity. C.S. Lewis said, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is either of overriding significance or it is of no importance at all, it cannot be moderately significant.”
What is it to you? Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the desire to spread it here and around the world of overriding significance or is it of no importance at all? Only you can answer that question.