Colossians 3:5,8-10, 12, 14-15
So put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). But now set aside these things, such as anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene language. Don’t lie to each other. Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts.
Our scripture today is again from John 4:3-42 which is the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. We covered 2 main points last week which were just found from verses 3-9. #1 Do you purposely go the most direct way, even in unfamiliar places, to find people who need to know Jesus? You see Jesus had to go through unclean and hated Samaria. Jesus took the direct route to an uncomfortable place and people.
Do we follow His lead to people outside our comfort zone both geographically and emotionally? Jesus clearly stated that He was on a mission of God and we are to be too if we are to be like Him. Did you go or did God take you to a different place this week, and did you respond, in order to draw people to Jesus or to draw them into a deeper relationship with Jesus?
Secondly, when Jesus encountered this “bad” girl, He struck up a nonconfrontational, nonjudgmental discussion with her. He did it with grace. He treated this woman with respect, grace and truth. He humbled Himself in order to reach her. We too are required to be that way.
So if we have a ton of scripture to cover and if we have little time, we are faced with looking at the whole encounter and discerning what really matters. Let me tip you off to something that exists in the Bible, in early Greek writing. That is that most often the most important point is in the middle of the section or story. Well here is that section:
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, (emphasis mine) the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You and your people worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.”
In the midst of the longest conversation that Jesus had with any person in the Bible, He makes the point. “Believe me woman” the time is here when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. It is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.
The whole of the Bible could be summed up with this scripture. The real key to understanding the statement is that twice the Samaritan woman, when gently boxed in by Jesus, brought up “religion.” When she first met Jesus, she responds to Jesus’ statement about the availability of “living water” with a statement about the place of Jacob’s well in her religion.
Next, when gently confronted by Jesus about her living in sin and Jesus knowing this, she turns to a response in verse 20 about religion. Think about this for a minute. Have you ever felt the call of God to speak to someone about Jesus, only to find that they would rather discuss religion? Let me clarify.
You may ask someone to come to church, but they respond that they have no time for hypocrites. Or maybe they say that they don’t like the people at a particular church. Of course the problem with asking them to church might be that you are not being clear in your desire. When we ask someone to come to church, I think it is better to say come and worship God with me.
Come to a place where I pray you feel the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Come to a place where you can grow in your relationship with Jesus. Just asking someone to simply come to church may imply that you are saying come find religion. Listen: Religion is MANS EFFORT to reach God. Christianity is GODS EFFORT to reach man.
Too often religion is “mans works.” Christianity is about relationship. God’s effort is to reach man or have a real ever growing relationship with us. We are meant to be disciples of Jesus worshipping in spirit and truth, not just religious.
So actually our mission is to invite people into a beginning relationship or into a further relationship with Jesus verses simply inviting to church. Getting back to the woman’s response using religion, it is typical. You see many would rather argue about “religion” rather than look into their hearts about the relationship with Jesus that He calls us into.
If we talk to someone about Jesus, many would rather discuss the church’s stand on homosexuality, they would rather see Jesus as exclusive rather than inclusive. They would rather discuss the priest problem in the catholic church rather than admit that a relationship with Jesus can still be built there. You get my point!
Jesus’ words in our scripture today clearly indicate to us that it is all about our relationship with Jesus. So, when our mission from God is to reach those who need Him, those who can really benefit from being a part of a church family, reach those who have turned away from God, reach those who have become stagnant in their relationship with God, do we not need to consider our own relationship with God?
Are we worshipping at church in an empty form of worship that is simply religious? Is the order of worship, the songs selected, the method used, the ritual, more important than simply lifting up our praise and worship to God? Are we thinking we live a fine upstanding good moral life and that separates us while ignoring a real relationship with Jesus?
How is your relationship with Jesus lived out every day? Is your day driven by following the rules because they are the religious rules or is your life driven by your relationship with Christ and your love of Him for what you recognize He has done for you and will do for you?
What is the motivation behind following our scripture from Colossians today?
So put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). But now set aside these things, such as anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene language. Don’t lie to each other. Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
If you feel that you meet Paul’s points above, I ask you what are your motives to do so. If you do good righteous acts to bring praise to yourself, compliments and status, God will not honor that. If your good things comes not from a real love of God or from genuine faith, if they come from a need to be accepted by others, this falls short of Jesus saying to worship in Spirit and truth.
Truly righteous acts come from hearts that seek God’s glory and God’s glory is meant to never be hidden. Those who do good works, those who love Jesus in a relational way never point to themselves. They never give a verbal or nonverbal sign that they are more righteous. Right relational people with Jesus point to God. Their works cause others to marvel at God’s grace and power, not a human being’s goodness or busyness.
Jesus speaks of a love and worship that is grounded in the truth and the spirit, deep in our hearts. Love and obedience are linked. John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (21)Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”(23) “Whoever loves me will keep my word. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (24) Whoever doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words.(31) Jesus speaks of himself – Rather, he comes so that the world will know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded me.
Love and obedience and the motivation behind it matters. Our relationship matters. It is ridiculous to say that you love your husband or wife but ignore most of what he or she says to you. Obedience is not our means to righteousness; it is the clearest expression of our devotion and relationship with Jesus.
A relationship with Jesus means we find in our heart and life that we live the teachings that Jesus spoke of, all of them. We don’t just pick the parts we want and ignore the objectionable parts. Loving Jesus is not thinking that if we know scripture we will meet the minimum requirement. Loving Jesus is not saying we are saved by His blood, then not living in relationship with Jesus.Loving Jesus, worshipping Jesus is about being in the truth and spirit in all aspects of our life.
So again, Jesus says in effect “BELIEVE ME” it is not about how religious you are or appear to be to others, it is about your relationship and obedience and your worship…..in spirit and in truth.