My friend Sarah is always banging on about Jesus meeting the woman at the well (John 4 in the scriptures). A bit like I can bring everything back to Jesus the Bread of Life (John 6), she can bring everything back to that encounter!
Many (many) years back, a guy visited our church and said something that stuck. Well, it stuck in that we were reminded of it quite a number of years later. It was this:
“John 4 is the future of the church.”
It became “the talk” and, I guess, it still is with those with whom it stuck. But it’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to see what it looks like. To see this unfolding in a real and tangible way.
I used a phrase in my last post. “The John 4 effect.” It’s stuck with me, and I feel there is something to write about it.
Now the John 4 effect isn’t a formula. There are no rules or patterns to follow. Life (Jesus himself) doesn’t follow a pattern, a formula. Life flows. It’s beautiful to watch the flow of Life. And a huge privilege to be a part of. The most wonderful thing is that Life isn’t contained by religious rules and regulations. Life isn’t contained in a religious building, between a set time on a Sunday morning (or, if we’re really radical, another few hours some other time in the week.)
Life isn’t conditional on being a certain way or doing certain things. Life is bubbling up, flowing to all those who will receive him. And Life makes his home in others and they in turn have a sense that, in the words of Philip (and words I will never get tired of using), “Something’s going on.” I love the simplicity of that. The something is the Someone who says, “Yep. I want to live here.” And people’s consciousness increases as a result.
I’ve spoken recently about Paul, and how Paul, without even realising it, has drawn people to Jesus. That I think is amazing. When we read about Jesus meeting the woman, and then she goes back to the town, she asks a question of the people she meets:
“Come see a man who told me all I ever did; is not this the Christ?”
The people walk out from the town and they come to Jesus. And following their conversation, they say to the woman,
“Now we believe, not because of what you have said; for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
I mentioned how, through Paul, I met his mum, and how Father is working and drawing her to her own encounter with himself. That’s the great thing, people are drawn to their own encounter with Jesus himself. Whatever that means for them.
I also mentioned someone else who has been drawn. And Claire has given me permission to mention her by name! Claire is the outreach worker I mentioned briefly in the post Collateral Impact (click the link to view.)
Now I won’t share all Claire’s story. That is between her, Jesus and me. And the people that are a part of her story. 😊 All that I will say is that Claire needed/and needs (as do we all) to experience Peace and Life.
A few weeks after our first conversation about God, Claire moved from the area to a land far, far away. Well, about 153 miles away to be precise. Since then we have continued the conversation. That is important to note. When someone is drawn to their encounter with Jesus, the conversation must continue as is necessary. So we haven’t let geography stop the conversation.
We’ve spoken about plumb lines, and we’ve seen them starting to work, both for Claire and for the people she’s connected to. And whilst we haven’t been religious about anything at all, Claire has been feeling her way toward God. The conversation has led us from wishing she had faith to where we are today.
And this is what I want to share, and have Claire’s permission to do so! (Thank you Claire.)
The following is an indication of what happens when Life himself flows. He becomes real and tangible, “spiritually experienced” as A W Tozer put it. Not a concept but a reality in the every day lives of those he is drawing. As a part of our conversation last week, I sent Claire the link to the post “Be Still. And Know (click to view).”
And this is what came back from Claire.
And yes I feel loved. I’m told I am from so many. That’s huge for me. I will stick with the warmth and the sun, and in a way the sun while u were leaning against that tree was a plumb line wasn’t it. A straight line. To you. And simple. One line is simple. Why divert off it into any other territory? That’s when we get lost. It’s slowly coming to me Pete. No amount of love and guilt can expect me to give what I can’t give. I’m hoping today I will keep focused and strong. And God will hold me up against the weeds that are trying to drag me down. 😊
These are the sort of conversations that make me smile. When we can clearly see the evidence of Jesus doing what he does best. Giving Life!
This morning, our conversation continued. And again, there was another pearl of wisdom from Claire!
“You have your boundaries and your plumb line so you don’t get pulled under don’t you. We all need that. Sounds like you have a busy day. You know what? I was driving somewhere (edited) last Saturday, worried as per usual about (name deleted). And pop! Into my head came. “Just let it be Claire. God will sort it. He will make the right decisions and just sit on his bus and let him drive it”. I did. I made a conscious effort to not fight against that. So what I’m trying to say is that he is coming through. I thank him for where I am. What I’m doing. And him taking the weight off my shoulders when he can. 😊
I’m beginning to think a lot about him and my circumstances every day. 😊”
That’s the wonderful progression of Life working, isn’t it? The initial encounter with Jesus, the unfolding conversation, and the opening, increasing consciousness of “God.” And our perception of every day life changing.
That is the John 4 Effect. People meeting Jesus, drawing others to him, them experiencing him, and Life multiplying onward. If you need to know more about the John 4 Effect, I can put you in touch with my friend Sarah! 🙂
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water.