Water and Truth – July 12, 2015

“Water and Truth”

Exodus 17:1-7  John 4:5-42 

          The famous British author and Christian

apologist…C. S. Lewis wrote these words.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly

be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you

want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not

even an animal.” 

Clearly God…Jesus…and the woman at the

well were vulnerable…clearly they loved. 

Twice before…in their wanderings…God

had heard the complaints of the Israelites.

And…he provided for them.  He

provided water.  He provided manna.  Yet, they were grumbling once again.  This time it was because they wanted water. 

Because he loved them…God gave them

water…even though the Israelites demanded God’s action on their terms. 


We do the same thing.  When God does not do for us what we think he

ought to do, in the way we think he ought to do it, we complain about it.  At home, at work, and in the church, we

demand God take care of us on our own terms.


God so loved them that he gave them water…even

though the Israelites were denying God’s protection.  They assumed the worst.  They had concluded that God had abandoned


We do the same thing.  We complain that what God is doing in our

lives…especially the suffering we must endure…is not good for us but actually

harmful.  That is a way for us to deny

God’s protection. 

Even though they tested God….he gave them water

because he loved them.  They still asked

“Is the Lord among us?” 

Our own trials often raise the same

question.  We may feel that God isn’t

blessing us very much right now. This is one way we deny God’s presence. 

The Israelites were suffering from spiritual

amnesia…forgetting the love of God.  They

forgot that because of His love God had provided for them…had protected them…

and had always been with them. 

In our daily lives we have the same

affliction…spiritual amnesia.  The remedy

is to pause and remember the immeasurable ways God has demonstrated his love

for us. 

When Jesus got to the well He was weary.  The long walk from the south to the north…the

disciples pressing him with endless questions…the constant crowds…the never-ending

questions and badgering made him a tired man.

He felt like some of us feel from time to time…sometimes often. 

Then the woman came to the well.  Jesus had every reason to ignore her.  He was tired.

He was a Jew and she was a Samaritan.

There had been great animosity and separation between their races for

seven centuries or more.  He was

male.  She was female.  At that time it was considered highly

inappropriate for a Jewish male to speak with any woman in public.  Because she had traveled a distance to be at

the well at the hottest time of day it was quite likely that she was also a

social outcast.  But…because He loved…Jesus

spoke with her….Jesus reached out to her. 

Jesus loved his Father and all of His creation.


He was energized by service to God.  He was

feasting on the potential he saw in that woman’s life.  He was so absorbed in what could happen to

her that he forgot himself.  Jesus loved. 

The Samaritan woman had lived a

difficult life…five former husbands.   She

was a social outcast…not even able to interact with other women who went to a

well closer to their home in cooler parts of the day.  But…she loved also. 

Once it was clear to her that she was

being offered the love of the messiah she showed her love.  She was so excited that she ran to tell other

Samaritans…leaving her all-important water pot behind.   What

happened when she acted out of love is typical of the way in which the Gospel

is spread. 

First…she told the Samaritans about Christ and

how he knew of her life…how he had ignored the barriers and reached out to

her…how he had helped her discover herself…how he had offered her the living


Secondly…as their knowledge grew…that

prevenient grace within them that Wesley told us about…the same grace that’s in

all of us…caused them to be curious and want to go meet Christ. 

Thirdly…when they met Christ…discovered who he

was and encountered His love…they surrendered.   They were the first to discover in Christ the

savior of the world.  A discovery that

came to them because God loved…Jesus loved…and the woman loved. 

So…we are loved…and given the opportunity to love.


We can do as Lewis suggested.  Keep our hearts closed…never show love…and

never enjoy love.  Or we can share the

love that’s been shown to us. 

Even when we’re tired and alone we can…like

Christ… be energized by God’s love shared with others…who are ill…who have lost

a loved one…whose body has become frail…who are imprisoned…who are poor…who

have little education…who don’t know Jesus Christ. 

When we’re facing barriers that society and

tradition have created…or we ourselves have created… like Jesus…we can

eliminate those barriers and reach out…to the child who plays in the church

parking lot…to the neighbor who attends no church…to the person of another

faith or no faith at all…to those who are or act suspicious. 

Not long ago I read a book entitled “Suspicion

Nation.”  It was written by Lisa Bloom…a

lawyer and court analyst for a number of TV networks.  The premise of her book is that we are a

divided nation because we are a suspicious nation….rich are suspicious of the

poor….poor are suspicious of the rich….old are suspicious of the young….young

are suspicious of the old….highly educated are suspicious of those with little

education….those with little education are suspicious of those with a lot of

education….races are suspicious of other races…..people of each faith are

suspicious of people of other faiths.  We

are all suspicious of those not exactly like us. 

We have seen the result of that suspicion in the headlines

in our state over the past month.  We

have also seen the result of God’s grace and love.  The families of the victims of the massacre at

Mother Emanuel surely did not suffer from spiritual amnesia.  They had drunk of the living water. 

Many people saw Friday’s removal of the confederate battle

flag from the statehouse grounds as a thing of beauty…like a rainbow.  Others saw it as devastating…like a

tornado.  This reminder… both rainbows

and tornados…are short lived events. 

The real question for each of us…for the United Methodist

Church…and for all of South Carolina…is how do we truly heal and go forward


In addition to the demonstration of forgiveness shown by

the victims’ families …three of our state’s leaders…who are all United

Methodists have some sound advice. 

I like best the indirect advice coming from Governor Nikki

Haley…someone with whom I don’t always agree.

The governor said she made her decision after asking herself how she

could look her children in the eye if she chose to leave the flag in place.  How will the children and grandchildren… who

will one day lead and care for us… see our words and actions if they are not

words and actions that heal and show love for all of God’s creation and all in

God’s creation? 

Former Governor Dick Riley…a member of Buncombe Street

United Methodist Church…wrote “significant disparities in our systems of

education, health and justice have a disproportionate impact on poor and

minority citizens in our state…. Let us think and act deliberately about a new

legacy for our state, one that brings the two South Carolinas together in one.” 

And, our Bishop…L. Jonathan

Holston…has told us…”It is imperative that love be vigilant and truth be

bold….let us think big.  Pray bigger.” 

It’s likely that none of us will be in a position to single

handedly change the world…or by our own single word or deed to ultimately heal

and bring the two South Carolinas together. 

But we can each of us diligently…daily…in every

word and deed hear…and live out…the words of Saint Teresa of Avila….who in the

15th century wrote… 

“He has no hand but our hands


To do his work today:


He has no feet but our feet


To lead men in his way


He has no voice but our voice


To tell men how he died:


He has no help but our help


To lead them to his side.”


God has done the hard work…sending his Son…and

providing that prevenient grace…the living water. 

The rest is up to you and me.


Through comforting word and simple deed filled

with grace and love… whose heart and mind can we…help heal…and open…to the truth

and thirst-quenching living water today?