The Wrong Question

Life Notes—March 24, 2011

“A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’  The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’  Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  John 4:7-10 

I went to grade school at Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas in the 1960’s.  Slightly before my time, Sumner was the “white” school.  Our society was divided by race and whites and blacks didn’t drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same food counter, ride in the same place on buses or go to the same school.  Sumner was one of the key players in the landmark Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education case, in which the US Supreme Court ended legal segregation by race in schools.  Young as I was, I had no idea.  One of my best friends, Clarence, was black and probably one of the first black kids to attend Sumner.  My mother confessed to me, years later, that she and my father feared what the neighbors thought when I had Clarence over to play.  Our society’s vision was black and white.  The question was race and the answer was segregation. 

In the passage above, a woman from Samaria comes to the well to draw water.  She finds a man resting by the well who asks her to draw water for him because he has no bucket.  The woman, focused on the racial/ethnic divisions of the day, questions why he, a Jew, would speak to her, a woman of Samaria.  It wasn’t an accepted cultural practice for Jews and Samaritans to interact.  But it was the wrong question.  Had she looked beyond race she might have recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the One who could give her ‘living water,’ a water of a different sort to quench a different kind of thirst.  As they interact, Jesus exposes her human frailties and suggests what he has to offer will fill needs she has otherwise been unable to satisfy.  The full story of the Samaritan woman at the well is found in John 4:5-32. 

Although we have come a long way from our segregated past, we still have trouble seeing past our differences in race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual preference.  From our distorted vision, we often ask the wrong questions.  God did not create our world black and white, but multi-colored and multi-cultural.  It is the mixing and interacting of colors that creates true and unique beauty.  Instead of asking how a person is different from me, I should be asking how this encounter can enrich my life, as well as theirs. 

This Sunday Tom is preaching downtown and Mitch will be west.  Their sermon is “Cultivating Fruitfulness: Intentional Faith Development.”  This will be the third in the all-church Lenten series.  Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall, traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00.  

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Perhaps a vision correction is in order…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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