By Jerry Wiles
A man from a remote village in a Central American country attended an Orality Training Workshop. After learning and retelling the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, recorded in John 4, he made an important and interesting observation. During a time of discussion and reflection, the man said, “I see that this woman had been married to five husbands and was then living with a man who was not her husband.” He went on to observe that in the account Jesus was the seventh man to come into her life.
Seeking Meaning and Purpose
The number seven often speaks of completion or perfection. It’s a great picture of what happens when a person encounters Jesus, is born of the Spirit, becomes complete and a new creation in union with Christ. The old has gone, and the new has come. The experience of the Samaritan woman is a reminder that many people are seeking meaning, purpose, and fulfilment in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways.
True Life in Jesus
Idolatry has been a problem from the beginning of time. An idol can be anything that takes the place of God in our lives. It can be a career, a position, possessions, and a relationship or any number of things. Many are trying these things before coming to an awareness of their need for the Lord. Some must try and discover that all these things, apart from God, can leave us empty and void of true life that only Jesus can give.
The Deepest Thirst
Consider the fact that the Samaritan women came to the well to draw water. Yet, she left her water pot to go back to her town and tell people about her encounter with Jesus. She told the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did, could this be Christ, the Messiah?’ She basically told and story and asked a question. In her initial encounter with Jesus, He asked the woman for a drink of water, and found common ground for a conversation. These are great lessons for us in sharing our faith and communicating the message of the gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus moved the conversation from physical water to the Living Water that satisfies the deepest thirst.
God is at Work
It is encouraging to realize that God is at work in the world today to create an awareness that our real need is a living relationship with the loving Christ. As ambassadors for Christ, we have the privilege of being agents of reconciliation and ministers of the New Covenant. We get to show and tell others of the joy of having new life in Christ for now and for eternity. Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full. When we experience the fulness of life in Christ, we should be compelled to share it with others.
Why didn’t you come sooner?
A friend and I had the opportunity to lead a lady to the Lord. She later said, “Why didn’t you come sooner, I wish I had done this years ago.” There are many in the world today who are waiting for someone to tell them the way of salvation. When we travel to various parts of the world, we find people are seeking for something or someone that they are not fully aware of. Those of us who know and follow Jesus know that He is the only one who can meet the most basic need and quench the deepest thirst.
Engaging with the Word of God
Like the man who made the observation about the seventh man, we find that some of the neediest people on the planet receive amazing insights in our orality training. These are among the Bible-less people groups or those in oral cultures. Simple, ordinary people who have had little or no opportunity for formal education often amaze us with their deep spiritual understanding when they hear and process stories from the Bible. In addition to the primary oral learners in the world, there are millions who are oral preference learners. They learn and communicate better with narrative, oral art forms, than print-based media. There is so much we can learn from the orality movement, not only about sharing the gospel and making disciples, but also for everyday life.