Saturday, March 21, 2009

Women of Influence - Samaritan Women

St. John 4:1-43, describes a close encounter of a woman with Jesus. This passage has been preached many times in various ways, Usually, though the woman has been depicted as a prostitute. She is often shown as a woman that other women would have nothing to do with. She is often the brunt of spiritual conversations related to adultery. Based on verses 14 - 18, the text is often construed as the woman being unclean, or in sin with a man, who was not her husband. Most often, that is how the Samaritan woman is depicted. Yet, the scriptures never say that she was a prostitute or a woman of ill repute.

I would like to share some of my thinkings on this passage. First, I wish to take note of the fact that throughout the new testament there is no other passage where Jesus spends as much time speaking with any individual, male or female. For approximately, 20 of the 43 verses, Jesus is in conversation with this Samaritan woman. So, I believe that I can authentically say that Jesus doesn't mind talking with women. He shares with them in long, thorough conversation. He's not afraid to be in their presence, in spite of cultural, theological, or gender specific gargon.

For our discussion, I want to zero in on what I consider very pertinent verses of scripture. As I said I have heard this story preached with this woman usually portrayed as a woman of ill repute, an adulterer. Most times, we zero in on the part where Jesus expressed to her that the one who she is with is not her husband. That is the point that I've heard most often. But, what impressed me is that Jesus said to the woman, "you speak the truth," vs.18. Someone once said to me, that if we would just be honest, God would take who we are and our situations and work a wonderful work. But, how often are we afraid to witness the truth, because of the fear of what others will think of us. This is a great phenomena in the Church. People live as if they have and are always doing what's right. Yet with all of our shabby depiction of her -- This woman is known by God as a honest woman.

(2) I love that this woman used her gifts. She had the gift of discernment. She perceived that Jesus was a prophet. Just by using the gifts God has given us should lead us to better gifts.

(3) I love that this woman was teachable. She had an understanding. She shared that understanding with Jesus, but as a student, she left room to move into transformation. She was a seeker. We often get that that we know and never seek for anything higher. Her sense of questioning in the presence of Jesus inspires me. The scriptures imply that if we seek him with our all, then we will find Him. Learning, growing, transforming is not an unmovable thought pattern. Revelation knowledge comes when we are in THE PRESENCE willing to be taught by the Holy One. And, because she was willing to grow in the presence of Jesus, she evanglized a whole community with the TRUTH ABOUT WORSHIPING GOD.

(4) This woman lived in a culture and time when women were looked down upon. Women were thought to be discouraged by God and man. Yet, the 28 vs. says she went directly to the men of the city, Proverbs 31 describes them as they that sat at the gate. She Speaks to them. This woman speaks to the men, and according to my understanding of the scriptures, there is not one word about them not believing her. She had a repretation for being truthful - honest, full of integrity. Before they even met Jesus, they counted on her word. I like that this woman took a whole new AGENDA and understanding to her community. She didn't go through a bunch of committees. She didn't seek out the politically correct way. She didn't discuss it with the theologians of her day. She shared the TRUTH to change this community. She went in her integrity - A whole community was transformed. copyright dls

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
Have there been any transformations in your family, your job, your church, your community because of your integrity? If so, share how you impacted them.

Is there some woman (person) that you are discounting because of your perceived sins in them?:

What woman do you know who has demonstrated influence in your community? Share how she has done this.

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