I am reading through the Samaritan woman in preparation for the podcasts for Wholly Loved Ministries and I am caught by the beauty and simplicity of a testimony! It never ceases to surprise me that when I study a passage that I have studied many times through the years that God brings out something new. Last year I was caught off guard by the reality that the disciples were sent into the Samaritan woman's town to get food. It occured to me that the disciples somehow missed the bigger picture of the harvest. They were distracted by the physical need to get food for their master and in the process forgot to take spiritual food to the villagers. I realized that I could not be upset with the disciples because I do this all the time. You know the drill, I rush into the store to get food and instead of taking time to make eye-contact and have conversations with the strangers in the store. I keep my eyes focused on what I want and need and get out. Instead of going through the longer check-out I might rush to to the self-check out so that I don't have to bother with human contact. Instead of helping the person struggling to get something off the shelf I walk by and move on because I worry they might not appreciate the lack of social distances. I assume and presume my way in and through the store without ever once thinking of the soul harvest right there before me.
As I reflected on this Samaritan woman this time, God caught me by the effectiveness of her testimony. It helps to know that it would be considered embarrassing for John to write a story about a woman, muchless a Samaritan woman as the one who led the entire village to Jesus. Theologians refer to this type of testimony as validity by embarrassment. They would not tell it unless it was true because honorable men would not talk to women of ill-repute or to a Samaritan woman much less use it as story to share Jesus. Oh the crazy and foolish barriers we put up in culture. GOD forgive us! I love how this woman was so fast! One theologian called it the "Cry of a new life" (Holman Bible Commentary: John, quoting Boice). There is something beautiful about such a cry. It is honest and simple.
So, I found myself asking, What makes an effective testimony based on the woman at the well? I noticed a few things that caught me. Simple statements like "Come and see!" are inclusive and initiates the conversation. But, the woman didn't just tell them what they needed to know. She asked questions that invited them to reflect on their own thoughts to determine their answer. She asked, "Could this be the Messiah?" I love that she was inquisitive enough to pose questions to Jesus and to those in her community. Her passion was undeniable! She went to go get water, but was so excited she left her jar behind and chose to share her felt experience and express it in such a way that she ignited others to want to join! Her invitation to come and see included welcome and participation!
It makes me wonder if I give testimony so simply. Am I inclusive and intiate conversations? Do I inquire and ask questions to invite reflection? Am I ignited so that others see my passion and want to join in? Do I invite a spirit of welcome? Her testimony to come and see is so welcoming because her passion and transformation are evident to all who know her. Have you reflected on sharing your testmony? Can you say these are also true of you? Or are you like me and the disciples and have moments where you focus on the need of the moment rather than the harvest fields? I know I want to be more like the Samaritan woman. How about you?