How to Change the World!
This morning, I concluded a two-part series on how the church changed the world, both then and now. How do we change the world today? - We must make Jesus’ command to, “go and make disciples,” our first priority. To say it another way, disciple-making is the only mission we have! If we want the growth and explosiveness of the church we read about in Acts, we have to disciple people the way they did; the way Jesus first discipled them. Discipled people make disciples.
This makes me think of the time Jesus went to Samaria. Leaving Judea, and on his way back to Galilee, he finds himself at a well in the middle of the afternoon. Why was Jesus at a well in the middle of the day’s heat? Perhaps to get himself a drink because he was tired, or perhaps he knew the type of person he would find there.
In our sermon, Rusty and I spent a good portion of the morning talking about Jesus’ ability and willingness to develop people. Jesus changed people’s world knowing that this would be the catalyst for changing the entire world. Enter the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Some context, women didn't go to the well in the middle of the day in this part of the world, they went at much cooler times of the day to draw water. This woman was there because of her reputation, which we learn about later in the story.
I find it fascinating all the barriers Jesus breaks down through his conversation with her: Jew to Samaritan, man to woman, Messiah to adulterer. And she is quick to sniff this out. After Jesus asks her for a drink of water, she sneers, “What are you, a Jew, doing asking me, a Samaritan for a drink of water?” But notice what Jesus does. He pulls her closer.
Paraphrasing. “Don’t you realize what I am offering to you," Jesus asks, "you are talking about a water that you drink and become thirsty again, I am talking about a spiritual water that you will drink and never become thirsty again. In fact, it will be like a well planted inside of you so that you are constantly receiving the water for eternal life.”
Jesus draws her close, he loves her despite their numerous differences, he teaches her the truth about him and about God, and he forgives her of past sins. This is discipleship. Jesus flipped this woman’s understanding of the world on its head; Jesus witnessed to this woman a new love, a new truth, a new way of life; Jesus changed this woman’s world knowing that she would take part in changing the world.
John 4:28-30 - “Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ They left the town and made their way to him.”
Discipled people make disciples. She was introduced in this story as a woman, a Samaritan, an outcast, and an adulterer. But through the transforming power of Jesus, she exits the story as a disciple. As someone who is pointing others to Jesus. As someone bold enough and courageous enough to approach the very people who ridiculed her before to tell them about the Messiah. THAT is the power of discipleship.
John 4:39-42 - “Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there for two days. Many more believed because of what he said. And they told the woman, ‘We no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”
Jesus’ method for changing the world was not in a program, it was in people. The early church experienced extraordinary growth because Jesus spent three years making twelve disciples - incubating in them love of God, the truth, and the mission. Jesus changed the world of twelve men and those men changed the world. Now the lesson is ours. The only way we are going to change the world today is if we deliberately, persistently, and intentionally go and make disciples.