Do Christians have the courage and self-awareness to dare to ask the following questions? Do we honestly find everything we know about God that can be loved? Can we in our “hearts” love God who demands service, adoration, praise, obedience and gratitude? Can we love God who lovingly chose to protect some on earth and not others? Can we love God who carelessly heals some people on earth and not others? Can we throw all away our greedy playing gambling roulette online just follow to the right path? Can we love God so should we ask or ask for help? Can we love God who demands that his son suffer and die on the cross to avenge God or satisfy God’s sense of justice? Can we really love God who has established laws to obey and punish criminals? Honest! We can be afraid and coward before such a God, but can we love and embrace with such a heart that God?
Do Christians really love God? Or do they fear, respect and admire the strength and authority of God and, therefore, bow down and submit to God because they see no other option? Once again I ask you, in your “heart”, have you found a truly charming God? Most Christians may be afraid to ask themselves, much less answer this question honestly. It seems almost blasphemous even considering that question.
Do we dare to be honest with God, or with other people, about how we can find the God we teach to believe? The Samaritan woman at the well (John 4: 4-42) has accepted religious teachings about God. But he had the courage, self-awareness and honesty to admit to Jesus that he did not find this God pleasant. This allows Jesus to bring him to the truth about God’s love and affection. Let’s look at the Samaritan woman because history is our history. Whether we know it or not, the struggle to reach the truth of God’s love and affection is also our struggle.
In Jacob’s well, Jesus offered the Samaritan woman “living water.” This water “will become a spring within it that jumps to give eternal life.” During the time of the Samaritan woman, the great leaders of Israel were often famous for the wells they dug for their followers (for example, Jacob’s Well). In the arid part of Israel, water literally means life for the people, and the great leaders care about the lives of their followers. The woman accepted Jesus’ offer. However, there is a problem.
Jesus said: “Go, call your husband and then come back here.” The prophet Hosea described the problem in the relationship between God and Israel in terms of a loving husband (God) and an unfaithful wife (Israel). Israel, an unfaithful wife, pursues false gods. There is a different problem in the relationship between the Samaritan woman (that is, all Samaritans) and God, but this problem is explained again in the marriage relationship. We, like the Samaritans, will bring God “living water” well from our understanding of God (our husband) and we cannot drink completely in the “living water” of God if we do not really understand God.
The woman replied to Jesus: “I have no husband.” He said: I don’t really love God because I understand about God, he is not my husband. Jesus replied: “You are right in saying that you have no husband.” Jesus said, you are right not to love God as you understand it. Jesus now tells you why you do not understand God, “you already have five (husbands), and the person who lives with you is not your husband.”
The origin of the Samaritans and their religion began with five groups of people who lived in the land of Samaria by the Assyrians after they deported the Israelites from the northern kingdom (2Ki 17: 5-6, 24-41). These five groups brought with them worship and understanding of their gods (five husbands). However, in Jesus ‘day, the Samaritans’ understanding of God was a mixture of their understanding of their gods and the God of Israel. This understanding of a polluted and tainted God is the “man” who now lives with her. The Samaritans have developed a distorted version of Judaism. They misunderstood God. That is why Jesus later told the woman, “You all worship what you do not understand.”
Similar to the Samaritans, Christians have their understanding of a polluted and distorted God to various degrees. How is the Christian God often depicted? God is omnipotent, omniscient, unchanging, and calm. God’s rewards and punishment. God’s justice demands satisfaction of sin through the death of his son. In heaven God occupies the top of the servants’ hierarchy of praise, service and worship. This is God, too many Christians are asked to love. Have you honestly discovered everything about the kind of God that can be loved?
In the story of the Samaritan woman, the woman saw that Jesus knew her heart and understood her struggle to love God when she understood God. Therefore, he said, “I can see that you are a prophet.” Like the Samaritan woman, we must let Jesus lead us to the truth about God.
Recognizing Jesus as a prophet of God, the woman asked Jesus about worship of God. The woman was confused about where the true worship of God took place. Jesus said that the whole concept of worship in the temple was over. Authentic worship of God is not a matter of location, it is a matter of spirit and truth. Jesus said that authentic worship of God is a combination of understanding the truth about God (ie knowing what God really is), and our personal attitudes and actions (ie spirit) in response to our correct understanding of God.
In fact, we only truly worship what we deem appropriate, what we respect, admire, and value, or in other words, what we personally like. If we are truly going to worship God, we must find a pleasing God. Jesus had told the Samaritan woman what she already knew in her heart, she could only truly worship God whom she found pleasing. Likewise for all of us, if we have reached a level of honest self-awareness and the courage to admit it to ourselves. We can only truly worship God whom we personally find pleasing.
The universal fear of religious people who are usually not accepted, unresolved, and untested is that if they do not find God in the universe to be loved then what should they do? How can they admit it? What will God do for them? After all, aren’t we all stuck with this universe deity whether we like it or not.
The Samaritan woman’s conversation with Jesus revealed a deep awareness of the universal human condition because she had to find a God who could be loved before we could really worship her, and her courage to admit this to Jesus. This self-awareness, sincerity, and courage will enable Jesus to work in his life.
The woman now tells people in her city of Samaria, “come and meet someone who tells me everything I have done.” In other words, he said, he looked into my heart and spoke in my heart, he knew where I was and where I was in my life with God. So he said to the townspeople, “Could this be the Messiah?” The story then tells us that through “the spoken word” of Jesus, many Samaritans became believers.
What is this “spoken word” from Jesus? What do Samaritans believe? Jesus knows the heart of a Samaritan woman and knows our heart. Like the Samaritan woman, we need not be afraid. All that Jesus needs is our courage, sincerity, and openness to the truth. Then Jesus can work with us as he did with the Samaritan woman to reveal the truth about God. Only when we know the truth about God can we decide whether we find a truly pleasing God. Only if we find the truth about God who can truly be loved, can we begin to worship God with spirit and full truth.