Initialized | John 4.39-42
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:39-42 | ESV
And from that Samaritan village (“Bingetown”) many put it all on the line for him (harvest time!) just because of what the woman said when she stood up testifying again and again to anyone who would listen, “I’m telling you, he read my mail – check that, he read me! Laid out everything I’ve ever done!” So when these Samaritans actually met Jesus for themselves, they kept asking him to come hang out with them in their village.
And he did. For two days.
And then the rest of the village bought into him too because of what he had to said, laughing they would say to the woman, “We don’t believe because of what you say anymore. We’ve heard him for ourselves! And we know beyond doubt that this isn’t just a prophet or seer, or even our Messiah. He’s the answer the whole world desperately needs!” MAV
Some college students recently interviewed me about evangelism, asking my experience with it, how I would describe or define it, etc. If the weather had been more cooperative, I would have simply walked outside to the church garden, because the primary image employed by Jesus for what we call evangelism is an agricultural one. The sower sows the seed. Then he walks away, goes to bed, the sun rises, the sun sets, and all by itself over time the earth produces growth; first the little sprout, then the full plant, then the budding promise of fruit, then the harvest. Some plant, some water, some harvest. And in this kingdom business, rarely is it the same person in a ten minute sales pitch in which the talented “gospel marketer” closes the deal and makes the sale.
No, this is an organic process that passes through many hands, each playing its own part.
We are always stepping into the ongoing work of many unseen hands and hearts. Always. And whether our tool is a pick ax breaking up hardened soil or a seed bag from which we can sling out the seed, a watering hose to soak and seal the work of others or the sickle to bring it home, “evangelism” is a team effort by a team that rarely meets or even knows one another. It’s a divine orchestration as opposed to a human formulation.
And this journey through John 4 is indeed a prime example of it.
Jesus risks a conversation, risks caring for a woman, risks the awkwardness and in so doing taps into a divinely orchestrated moment seven centuries in the making. And the unwitting, clueless disciples get to be his fellow harvest hands as they witness the light come on for an entire village as they simply encounter Jesus. How might we be liberated and empowered as “evangelists” if we lost the sales pitch mentality of our secular culture or the argumentative mentality of our religious culture and tapped into the kingdom mentality of organically entering God’s work and the labors of countless others unseen that is literally centuries in the making?
What conversations might we risk? What freedom and pure joy might we experience – and pass on?
What was your most positive experience with evangelism (either on the giving or receiving end)? What was your worst? What happened? What do you glean from these experiences?
Lord, give me eyes to see how you would use me to work in the field of your world today. Through Jesus.