Series: Values of a LIFE Community 3 Sermon Title: Dance with me
I once read a story of a young girl, “I may not recall all the details and how true it is” …. but this young girl who after her mom passed on went on to live with her father and her grandmother. Every evening before she went to bed, her father would have a dance with her. She remembers stepping on her father’s big feet as they danced while their grandma cheered from a distance. But the teenage years came fast, the dining table became quieter and now having buried their grandma, her father would try to steal a dance with her, but his moves were to slow and his language became old, she had found a new found boyfriend in the neighborhood. She would say “her father did not understand her” and too often came home disinterested in the food or the dance with her father. She would pass the dining table and ignore the music her dad was playing and run to her room for a chat on the phone with the boyfriend”
It was long before she moved to the city with this boyfriend, yes they had fun and the music was loud, but sooner or later the boyfriend could not keep up with the bills and kicked her out to look for a job. She went in and the best she found was a night club dancer. After many months she became cold and empty but never stopped to imagine what was happening to her father. On one night after her night job, she received a letter and shoved it in her back pocket to read it later. But on the second night she received low pay for her job and really felt empty, she got into her pocket to throw away the money and came across the letter, she never thought whose it was from, but she then received a call from her former boyfriend who asked her to come collect some letters that have been coming to his address from a stranger. She gathered herself in a small dingy corridor and began to go through each…She noticed the consistent plea on the letters from her father to return home. When she opened the last letter it simply read “I would love to have my last dance with you”. After a long reflective journey, she got home and broke down in tears to learn her father had recently passed on…”
We have been studying the book of John. Going back to the author’s intention of writing this book, was to ask the question who is this Jesus? In the first Sunday we discovered that Jesus is God, who was the Word of LIFE and became flesh so that we can know Him personally through His word. As a LIFE community we said that we must value and treasure God’s word as His self revelation and a means through which we find LIFE.
Last week, we discovered that Jesus is not only the word becoming flesh, but the word becoming flesh so that he can be-friend us, coming to where we are, speaking our language and inviting us to walk with Him as friends. As a LIFE community we said we must value friendship as the way to follow Jesus and because of this we bring others closer and point them to Jesus as we allow the Jesus in us to walk with them.
Today I ask again who is this Jesus?, My thesis is simply Jesus is the word of God who became flesh not only so that we can know him, or befriend him, but that we can be satisfied intimately by His LOVE. While the world this week celebrated human love, which has it’s climax on special days and moments like valentine, I would like to draw our attention to Jesus the Lover of our souls, whose LOVE surpasses by any comprehensible measure any love we can ever receive from elsewhere. This Jesus invites us to dance with Him in this Love relationship that brings us LIFE. Even a Christian community remains bound/dry and empty without the full appreciation of God’s love for us.
Turn with me to this familiar passage in John 4: 1-26
Again a brief history, would help us appreciate this passage better, Jesus and His disciples are on their way from Judea headed to Galilee. Verse 4 should strike us that “Now He had to go through Samaria. Many Jews refused to take this route from Judea to Galilee; they preferred to go round a route that was twice as long and involved crossing the Jordan River twice. This was because there was great hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans which dated back in early history. Samaria once was only a Jewish territory in Israel, but when Israel was besieged by the Assyrian King, he later brought foreigners and exiled them right in Samaria. These foreigners had their own religious practices that included worship on mountains and in specific the venerated mount Gerizim in Samaria. These non- Jews and Jews later intermarried and raised a mixture of people with mixed religion of the Jewish and foreign mountain gods. The result was a hostile relationship of the pious mono-theistic Jews and the mixed religious Samaritans who were also familiar with the Jewish law.
This conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman stands out in the book of John as the second longest interaction Jesus is having with one individual after the conversation earlier with Nicodemus. A key difference is that Nicodemus was a fellow –Jew while this lady was a foreigner. John wanted to prove his well put thesis that “whosoever believes shall not perish but have life”- Whosoever – a break away from all boundaries possible. Anyone and everyone can access eternal LIFE.
Take note also the time and place this conversation took place. It was around mid-day and the journey was an uphill walk for Jesus and his disciples, which explains why Jesus was humanly tired and thirsty as any man can be after a long walk, but also it is striking that the woman would come to fetch at the well at this time. This was uncharacteristic as most women not only came to the well early morning for the use of the day and late evening for the use of the night, but that this was a social time for most women to catch up. So, why the woman would come alone? This and the conversation Jesus had with her, perhaps reveals some knowledge about her lifestyle. I agree with many commentators and the evidence suggests that this woman was needy. While the discussion centered on Jesus request for water to quench his thirst, it is clear that the woman was the one who was really thirsty. She had a thirst for something more fulfilling, something more real and something more lasting. Hence Jesus use of the word “Living water” The nature of her relationships revealed in this conversation speaks of a woman who had experienced a vast array of emotions in her recent past but mostly disappointment in men, probable judgment and shame from the society, for it would be shameful when other women spoke about her hoping from one man to another and an injured self esteem at the thought that something was wrong with her. Many scholars suggest that perhaps it was because of her inability to bear children or her inability to make men happy for whatever reason that she found herself in this lonely, empty predicament….. Just enough to try again.
She had probably become averse if not distrustful to the word love. Because that word ‘love’ reminded her of just how she got here, how could she have agreed to that first dance, that first lie, how could she have been fooled by that love over and over again, it probably reminded her of abuse, manipulation, betrayal and pain. The only love she had known was human love and it was thoroughly disappointing and fallen. Her dance with men was flawed.
This valentine season, there are many of us who can identify with this woman. Even though we walk and look whole on the outside, some of our experiences in our relationships are just that disappointing, empty, distrustful and hurt. This valentine season may be dry because many of our relationships feel like dancing with a stone in our shoe. Our relationships with people express our disappointments in name-tags like “that guy who is supposed to be my friend, or that man who calls himself a husband, that man who I thought was the one… who used me and left me, or that neighbor who I thought I could depend on, or that boss who I thought understood me, or that pastor who I thought I could trust or that policeman who I thought would protect me, or that man was supposed to be my father, or that woman who pretends to be my mother… and the list is endless…the product is broken and hurt people in our society who have no energy and capacity or appreciation of the real thing which surpasses all these definitions- The Love of God.
Let us go back to that conversation and see how Jesus, presents himself far greater, far much better a lover, how Jesus presents himself to this woman as the Real drink, the Living water and the real deal.
After asking for a drink, in a bid to avoid this unwarranted and unorthodox conversation with Jesus, the woman retreats to a camouflage. First a camouflage of culture; “you are a Jew and am a Samaritan” To which Jesus offers Himself as different, “I wish you knew Him who asks you for a drink, who it is who asks to dance with you- He is different, He is not bound by any human boundaries like culture, tribe or distance- His Love is open to all, to you”
In what ways have you camouflaged in culture? Humanly speaking we say –we cannot trust men from this culture, or people of this kind? We just don’t go together. I just can’t dance with him, their ways are different- Human love is bound by culture but God’s love is boundless.
She then retreats to the second most natural camouflage: History and Heroes and heritage, Vs12, Are you greater than our father Jacob. Do you claim to be better and greater than the ones who have defined love before, are you greater than Romeo, You can never catch up with my late father, if only you were like him, her, them? To which Jesus seems to respond, What Jacob gave you was good but it was temporary, In other words, where are your heroes now? Why are you still thirsty?- Jesus says My Love will never leave you thirsty again.
She realizes Jesus is dismantling her defense, caught in embarrassment; she then jumps to the camouflage of skepticism and circurstic. “Give me this water, so that I will not come here to draw water.” To which Jesus responds with a most prodding question to bring her to the place of vulnerability. In many ways skepticism and circusim keep us away from being vulnerable to this new dance, this new love.
This question from Jesus opens her up and she is vulnerable and she confesses to Jesus, that truly her relationships had not been the best. However she finds one more camouflage- religion, which many of us also hide in vs 20- Where should we worship” To which Jesus replies True worship is in Spirit and in Truth because God is Spirit. The place of worship is not limited to structures and buildings, but the place for God’s Life is in our Spirits where God who is spirit dwells in us. You can only worship that God you know and His word which is the truth has revealed him to us.
In this dance, there are no set places or structures, that’s religion but in this dance everywhere and anywhere is dancing time, because Him that you dance with is spirit and dwells in you. While our dance with men is temporary and limited….Our dance with Jesus will never end.
Finally she gets to the point where a decision is needed, and almost makes the choice we all make “Procrastination” Vs. 25, to which Jesus simply responds by Revelation- I am the One. I am the one you have been searching for, I am the one who will fill you, I am the one who will truly satisfy you, I am the real deal, I am your perfect dance- soul mate.
But how shall we define this LOVE different from how we know human love? Sometimes hearing the words agape and phileo or eros may not be as clear. I borrow a definition that has grasped my heart in trying to define God’s Love.
“God’s love is an exercise of His goodness, towards individual sinners, whereby having identified himself with their state, he has given himself to be our savior and now brings us to know and enjoy him in a covenant relationship.”
Let me explain
An exercise of His goodness: The perfection in God that causes him to deal bountifully and kindly with all his creation. The principle that leads God to desire and delight in us and reaches its highest form in a personal fellowship in which He gives himself to Lives in us and us in him, imparting ourselves in each other and the result is as much glorification to his name but also to our greatest joy and satisfaction.
Goodness towards individual sinners: His goodness is filled with grace and mercy as we are truly undeserving of such goodness. This is staggering, while Human love is conditional or is awakened by something in the beloved, there is nothing in us to invoke such goodness from God, but that His love is free, spontaneous, un-evoked, uncaused and simply his choice. It is not simply a blanket to people, but individual sinners- whosoever is you and me.
His goodness involves Identifying himself with us: While God’s goodness is such that it results in his praise and glory, he has voluntarily bound his happiness to our happiness, such that His happiness is not complete until we are happy. He saves not only for his glory but for our gladness and for this reason we can enjoy all his goodness.
His goodness resulted in the ultimate demonstration of love that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Most sacrificial way to demonstrate his goodness- For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only begotten son.
Lastly is that this goodness should culminate or brings us to know and enjoy Him in a covenant relation, a relationship which we permanently pledge to each other (such as husband and wife) but much stronger such that as we say all that I have I share with you, all that I am I give to you. God’s love is such that he says to us, all my attributes as God are available to you for your goodness just as they are mine for my glory. My grace shall be yours to pardon you, my power shall be yours to protect you, my wisdom shall be yours to direct you, my goodness shall be yours to relieve you, my mercy shall be yours to supply you, and my glory shall be yours to crown you. This is what God does for those He loves- the best he can and the best he can is simply incomparably the best. His LIFE fully lived out in our lives.
In conclusion: As a LIFE community therefore we must be people who not only Value God’s word as his self revelation to Know Him, We must not only, also value Friendship as the means we walk with Him, but now we must value His LOVE as the truest most intimate means for our fulfillment, satisfaction and enjoyment. His love brings us peace and grace, His word allows us to dance. And only then can we be able to dance with others.
Only when we have experienced this love can we be able to love others. Only then can we truly talk of a LIFE community. I finish with this prayer from Eph 3:14-19.
Prayer time (Call the team- Jesus Lover of my soul)
Are you grumbling, or do you show discontent and resentment at the circumstances God has placed you, Are you distrustful, fearful and depressed- Is it that you do not know, or you doubt or question whether God loves you? Why do you allow yourself to grow cold and half hearted to this God who loves you so?
In this same manner God calls us to love one another, how is the quality and degree with which you have loved your father, mother, husband, brother, sister, people at church, team members reflective of God’s love for you are you reciprocating God’s Love
Prayer for the wounded, would you today be identifying with this woman and there is s much hurt and pain from past relationships that you simply are unable to trust again, Will you entrust yourself to Jesus and allow his LOVE to redefine your love relationships, You can forgive and start again, you can trust again, you can commit again because your fall back is a love that is unchanging, unshakeable and unending.
Or may be you have not began this relationship with Jesus….you are set for disappointment with all human relations, but Jesus is a sure start. Jesus stretches his hand and asks you “Will you dance with me?”
Series: Values of a LIFE Community 3 Sermon Title: Dance with me