We Must Be Intentional

But He needed to go through Samaria (John 4:4)

As your pastor it is my responsibility to shepherd us into true discipleship. True discipleship always intentionally seeks to bring light into dark situations.

And here we are again, Louisiana and Minnesota. It was around this time last year when we discussed the igniting of the obvious powder keg. Not only has the fuse been lit, but many  racial bombs have exploded. What is happening to our nation and what are we as believers doing about it? What should we do about it as a church and as individuals? If we are doing something, are we doing enough? As a black man with numerous Caucasian friends and acquaintances, I occasionally hear very interesting and somewhat offensive racial comments slip out. I often think "Did they realize what they just said?" I am not saying that I think these dear people are racist but it does mean that there is some thought process there.

My heart is grieved at all of the racial tension we see building in our country. I am also concerned with all the natural segregation I see on Sundays by many ethnic groups. Is this ok? I know it is not intentional. People simply have a certain affinity to styles of worship, preaching and fellowship. It is ingrained in them from the culture that they grew in. So, is this ok? Should we do things differently? If we do choose to do things differently, this means it’s going to take work. We must be intentional. It means we must constantly and consistently be moving out of our comfort zone. I truly believe this is why we have so many problems in our marriages and other relationships: we simply don’t want to change or think of others more than ourselves and our own desires. 

In this message, we are going to be challenged once again to do something different--to do what Jesus did. We will look at the Word and then discuss intentional ways to make a change because we are the “Salt and the Light”. We are the agents of change. We are the ones that God has purposed to use to bring healing and minister reconciliation in our community and world.

As I read John 4:4, I truly believe that the need to go through Samaria was not merely a geographical consideration, but a divine compulsion. I want us all to be thinking about this because at the end of the service. I will ask us “How are we feeling divinely compelled?”

Passage(s): 
John 4:3-32

Comments

2016-07-10-MW

 

I’m sure some of you are curious about my uniform today. I have the privilege, with my wife and John Hladky, of being a chaplain at the Madison County jail. As I saw what happened in Dallas, my heart was grieved. The next day, I put on the uniform and wore it the whole day to send a message. To state the obvious:

#1 - I am an African American. I’m a black man.

#2 - I am affiliated with law enforcement.

And those things are not necessarily in conflict. They can work in unison.

 

I want to speak to you in this uniform today to address you in 4 different ways: as a pastor, as an African American, as someone affiliated with law enforcement, as a brother in Christ.

 

I was watching the news this week. The reporter said, “I’ve seen a lot of things, but this event bothers me. I can see it getting worse and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to make things better.”

 

There have been marches, protests. There’s a lot of craziness going on in our world today. Only four weeks ago was the shooting in Orlando. Already, that’s yesterday’s news and we’re having to move on to another tragedy!

 

There’s division and hatred in nearly every facet of life. What do Christians do about this?

 

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (Message), the Apostle Paul is speaking to the church at Corinth. They had a lot of division, judgment, comparison going on. Corinth was a wicked place with corruption IN the church. One thing Paul points out is:

 

 19 ¶ Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: 20 religious, nonreligious, 21 meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, 22 the defeated, the demoralized--whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ--but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.

 23 I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

 

That’s for us as believers. We don’t want just to talk about these things. We need to be IN ON IT.

 

I truly believe this expression from Esther is for us today: I have been born for such a time as this. God is sovereign. Omniscient. All knowing. Omnipresent in the future, the past, today. Nothing catches Him by surprise. As His servant, I truly believe I’ve been born for such a time as this.

 

So I come to the Father and ask, “How do I walk in this situation? How do I be salt and light in today’s world?” We’ll look at scripture and find practical steps that we as individual believers and together as a church can take.

 

I want to show you this video clip.

 

http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2016/07/09/van-jones-op-ed-police-shootings...

 

I want to share a little bit and give a little more insight. You may have seen the coverage about the shootings in Louisiana and in Minnesota and the police in Dallas and other incidents since then. It’s a volatile situation. I want to be a little more vulnerable and open with you all for a particular reason. As we go through this passage, I want us to see some things.

 

When I was young, a friend of mine and i were walking down the road. A police car pulled up and told us to freeze. And a lady jumped out and said, “That’s them!” I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Apparently this lady saw two black young men throwing rocks at her children. And she assumed it was us, though we had nothing to do with that.

 

Another time. High school. Junion/Senior prom. My friend Sheri Walker and I talked about going to prom together. She’s caucasian and I’m African American. We make plans to go. Later, she calls me in tears, “Michael, I can’t go with you.” Why? “Because you’re black.”

 

Another time. I was interviewing for my first job. It’s at Burger King. The Assistant Manager said “the Manager told me not to hire you because you’re black. But Im going to hire you because you ARE black.” He thought he was being supportive, but they were both only judging by the color of my skin.

 

Another time. Im a counselor at a Christian camp one summer. During a break group of us went to town: four caucasian young ladies and I. While there, three caucasian men cussed at me because I was with these white ladies.

 

Another time. I’m engaged to my (caucasian) wife. We’re at the training center before going to the mission field. While Heather and I were traveling down the interstate, a caucasian man drove up alongside us and starts cussing at me and wants me to pull over. I sped up and drove away.

 

Another time. I was in college. A freshman. I came home to visit mom during spring break. Late at night. As we entered town, 2 police cars drove up suddenly, one in front and one in back. They told me to put my hands on the wheel. I asked, “Did I do something wrong?” They asked my name and for license and registration. Read my name over the radio. Another car drove up real quick. A friend jumped out of the 3rd car, saying I was ok. So the police let me go.

 

Another time. A friend of mine and I were home from college. We went to a friend’s house. Within 2 minutes, police break in the door. There were 10 people in the house. They handcuff 3 people. Which ones? The three African Americans—myself and two others. They hold us for a few hours. Never charge us. Release us.

 

I’m not the only African American who experiences this. Lots of young African Americans experience this kind of stuff. And it’s like water pressure building up behind a dam. And that dam gets cracks in it. And then one situation causes the dam to break. If they’re not a believer or have healthy ways to challenge the pain and confusion and frustration then aggression occurs.

 

Sometimes it’s “I want to cry out any way I can”. It doesn’t justify people doing harmful things. But it helps us understand.

 

Not only are African Americans in this situation. It’s the same with the police. Some are under fire so much. I have the privilege of working with officers at the jail. Some of them are here today. They deal with pressures every single day. It can wear on you. Foul language. Lewd comments. There’s a lot of stress in that job. And just like us, they may also have problems at home: marital, financial. Imagine having all this going on at once. And you’re criticized and ridiculed. You see TV and social media and the hostility and aggression from African Americans. It can cause you to have a certain thought process when dealing with that person. That’s what’s going on in our society today.

 

I am a black man. It’s ok to see the color of my skin. There’s nothing wrong with the color of my skin or of your skin. The problem arises when you make a judgment based on the color of my skin. Or if you choose to limit your interaction with me because of my skin color.

 

It’s ok to see a uniform and associate it with law enforcement. The problem arises when you make a judgment about me because of the uniform…

 

This is where the problems arise. The reality: we may not realize it, but we may have deep-seated prejudices that we’ve grown up with. I’ve been around people I love and they love me, and they say something very off-color and I wonder. There’s some basis there that causes them to have a certain thought process.

 

And events can occur that could cause judgments to arise based on preconceived judgments based on the color of one’s skin or because of the uniform someone’s wearing.

 

I truly believe that what’s going on is from the very pit of hell. The enemy is always about division, hatred. He’s the accuser of the brethren. Any time he can speak into our hearts and accuse a fellow, that’s from the enemy.

 

There’s something very demonic that’s brewing. I truly believe that as believers, we’ve been born for such time as this. And I believe Light will always shatter darkness. There are certain things we can do that will make a difference. It must be intentional. There must be intentional reconciliation.

 

I want you to see how Jesus has been very purposeful about reconciliation.

 

John 4:3-35 (ESV)

 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.

 4* ¶ And he had to pass through Samaria.

 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

 6* Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

 7* There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘‘Give me a drink.’’

 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)

 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’’(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

 10 Jesus answered her, ‘‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’’

 11 The woman said to him, ‘‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?

 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.’’

 13 Jesus said to her, ‘‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,

 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’’

 15 The woman said to him, ‘‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’’

 16 Jesus said to her, ‘‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’’

 17 The woman answered him, ‘‘I have no husband.’’Jesus said to her, ‘‘You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;

 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.’’

 19 The woman said to him, ‘‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

 20* Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’’

 21 Jesus said to her, ‘‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

 24* God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’’

 25 The woman said to him, ‘‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’’

 26 Jesus said to her, ‘‘I who speak to you am he.’’

 27 ¶ Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, ‘‘What do you seek?’’or, ‘‘Why are you talking with her?’’

 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people,

 29 ‘‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’’

 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, ‘‘Rabbi, eat.’’

 32 But he said to them, ‘‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’’

 33 So the disciples said to one another, ‘‘Has anyone brought him something to eat?’’

 34 Jesus said to them, ‘‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

 

Several things jump out to me in this passage. This is one of the most potent passages dealing with reconciliation. Don’t think I’m crazy for saying it. V4 - “Jesus HAD to pass through Samaria.” The reason I think this is one of the most important passages for inter-racial reconciliation is that there were many passages North. Jesus didn’t HAVE to go through Samaria to get to Galilee. He PURPOSELY went through Samaria.

 

As you look at v36, his food is to accomplish the Father’s will. And one thing was to meet this Samaritan woman.

 

Samaritans. People from Samaria. Mixed race. Half-breeds. Jews that were left behind during the exile. And the Assyrians came in and they intermarried. They were considered worse than Gentiles. Lowest of the low. So many didn’t have anything to do with Samaritans. Yet Jesus NEEDED to go through Samaria. It was the Father’s will. The divine will that Jesus go through Samaria and encounter this woman.

 

FIRST, as believers, we must be intentional. As we see racial divides and tensions, it’s our calling and duty in the divine will of God to cross over those racial lines and seek reconciliation.

 

SECOND THING vv7-8. Even the strictest Jew said it was ok to go int the marketplace and do trade with Samaritans. So if you’re traveling through Samaria, it was ok to buy from them. The disciples went into town to purchase food. But Jesus went further. It was ok to buy food, but NOT to have relationship.

 

Bottom line: INTERACTION isn’t the same as intentional relationship building. Some may say, “I work with people of different races. I have acquaintances.” An acquaintance is different from someone you have a relationship with.

 

I truly believe that Jesus knew this woman was going to be coming at noon today. He sits and waits for her. And he says something peculiar for a Jewish man. “Give me a drink.” She’s astounded. How can you ask me for a drink? He was asking HER to use HER jar and SHARE it with Him. that was unheard of.

 

INTERACTION isn’t the same as sitting, fellowshipping, communion, relationship with someone of a different race. We need to understand that.

 

NUMBER THREE. Jesus was about to break the mold of traditional religion. See it over again. Luke 5:27-31 — made friends with tax collectors, prostitutes, others. They came, sat, ate. That’s something someone extremely religious would never do.

 

Jesus spent time to build relationship with this woman. Talked and communed with her.

 

Yesterday, I was asked to go to a tattoo parlor with my son Baraca. At first I said no. But then the Lord spoke to my heart. I went. I didn’t get a tattoo. While there, I got into 45-min  conversation with tattoo artist. He had a friend murdered that day. He was caucasian. We hd a great conversation. After Baraca got his tattoo, he called and said, “Dad, the artist gave me a major discount on the tattoo. The artist said ‘your father doesn’t seem like the typical religious type. He didn’t judge me. I knew there was something different, but I didn’t know he was pastor.’” And Baraca got the discount [laughter].

 

That was good, but not good enough. I want to go back and see if I can have lunch with the tattoo artist. This is what Jesus did.

 

FOURTH THING. Jesus provides practical examples for us to emulate. He shows us HOW to cross over. A particular thing we can see: intentionally enter and with sensitivity into the experiences and world of others: culturally, economically.

 

This woman, Samaritan, half-breed. Coming at noon because she had 5 husbands and not with a husband now. Not even respected by her own people. No one wanted to associate with her. But Jesus engages with her in her life. He enters her world. With sensitivity not judgment and condemnation. He engages to give her hope and life. Purposely. With sensitivity. Even with cultural and ethnic differences. He entered her world. He embraced her world.

 

If we’re going to be effective in crossing over, we have to be willing to cross over. To expect differences and to embrace them. See the person. Love the people. If we’re going to be effective.

 

FIFTH: It’s not just about being tolerant to those similar to us. For example, if you’re a successful business man, it’s not just that you have a relationship with a different color business man. Jesus crossed every single barrier. He broke down every one of them. She was nothing like him in any form or fashion.

 

If we’re going to be intentional, we need to be able to go in to someone who’s not like us. Even the antithesis of us. Enter relationship and seek common ground to relate to them. That’s what Jesus did. We must do this. Jesus chose to go this way to connect to a woman of a different races and with questionable morals. We have no excuse.

 

SIX: Jesus had to remove the mountain of division in worship. This is extremely important. Vv 20-23 - 

 

 20* Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’’

 21 Jesus said to her, ‘‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

 

Jesus removed the mountain of division in worship. It’s no longer about US and THEM. If someone believes in Jesus Christ as Lord, we can enter in relationship with them. There’s not to be division but we can walk with them. As we worship the one true God.

 

Some people think I’m not Baptist enough. “You don’t fit the Baptist mold.’ [Someone said, Amen. Laughter]

 

When we were overseas, we were with non-denominational groups. They said, “You guys don’t fit the mold.” People would call us out on this. My wife and I were ignorant. We didn’t know we were supposed to be in a mold. We thought we were supposed to worship Jesus. The one true God.

 

SEVENTH: Growing in godliness as a true disciple—Godly living is living in, through, and for Jesus. it’s not for you to look in the mirror and say how godly you are. It’s about wanting to be on God’s mission. Breaking down barriers. Going across racial lines. Trying to reconcile people to you. As a believer, this is what I MUST be about. As we look at the world today, we have been born for such a time as this.

 

Godliness includes: love, obedience, unity. Jesus said that all of us may be one. All fellow believers can walk in unity. Living godly lives we learn to see things as He does and adopt God’s Word as our only standard.

 

In conclusion, several practical steps we as believers can do:

1. Seek intentional partnerships with other churches outside our comfort zone. What we need to do as THIS body of believers.

2. Understand we cannot comment on how comfortable/uncomfortable someone else’s shoes are if I haven’t walked in them. But we can and should graciously ask, “What’s it like to walk in your shoes? Help me understand what you’re feeling.”

3. Check our friends list. Not just on Facebook. Is it a mixed array of colors? If not, why? Ask the Lord how you can change it.

4. Ask your friends of different races and cultures, “What would appeal to you in a church and why?” And we need to see how we can accommodate that.

5. We need to be constant about prayer.

 

You know before all these shootings and this crisis happened, I met with the pastor of the church by the boys and girls club at Butler Terrace. They’re going to come and worship with us in August.

 

Then, at the end of September, they want us to come and worship with them. 

 

For some of you, it’s going to stretch you outside of your comfort zone. The good news is, they don’t start until noon. So you can have back-to-back services! “Something going on here now!”

 

And that pastor and I started this relationship before all the nation’s crises started to happen.

 

It’s not about protesting. It’s about seeking ways to interact and build relationships. And I believe God will be at work and break the stronghold building in our country.

 

Check your heart. Jesus said, “As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me.” It’s not just about how he reconciled us, but he also gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Ask the Lord, “Show me how I can stretch and be intentional about walking in the ministry of reconciliation. With people in other races, cultures, socioeconomic groups. And then give me the courage to do it. Stir my heart so that I’m not comfortable until I walk in obedience.”

 

11:24.

 

[Communion]

 

Prayer: Lord we love you. Father, I’m reminded that I’m to love you not just with words but with actions. I remember when Rip preached about this, if we love you, we’ll obey you. You want to love the world and use us to love the world. You tell us how. I pray we’ll have eyes to see and hearts to obey.

Lord Jesus, as we take communion, we thank you for the sacrifice that brings us reconciliation with you.

And so we pray in the lovely and gracious name of Jesus. Amen.

 

He poured out his blood not to COVER our sins, but to WASH our sins away. Every time we drink, we’re to remember that we’ve been set free and reconciled to him.

 

Church, there’s no other church I’rather be affiliated with than this church. I love this church family. You’ve showed over and over that you’re family to us. And I pray we’re doing the same to you.

 

When I told the tattoo guy that Baraca was my son, the tattoo guy said, “I thought he was Indian or Pakistani.” “Yeah, my wife is white.” We have a beautiful array in our family. That’s what I want to see in our church body. I want to see a beautiful array in our body. All social, economic, and racial classes. Amen?

 

We have one more thing we want to do. We have the mission team going out to Honduras. We want to send them out well. And we also have VBS here next week. 96 children! Kids Camp. We want to call everyone working VBS and Honduras up so we can pray for them.

 

11:38 Dismiss.