Missionary on the railroad tracks

You may remember me talking about Jesus and the woman at the well on Monday. Well, this is a continuation of my marinating on that passage. It’s just the beginning of a new outlook on what it means to live a life transformed by the love and grace of Jesus, the beauty in the story He’s writing that is my life, and what sharing the love, the grace, the beauty looks like.

Transformation makes the missionary

If you blink during Jesus’ conversation with this woman, you will miss the transformation. After she’s tried to run with her half-truth in verse 17, then retreated to religion in verse 20, there is a notable shift in her language. There is the longing for the Messiah, the end to her confusion and hurt. And then she realizes she’s met Him. Upon meeting Him, she can do nothing but run and share Him. Should this not be our reaction to Jesus when we meet Him? Should this not be our reaction when He reveals Himself anew to us in our prayer, or in a sunset? Putting on our “missionary cap” (yes, that’s meant to be hokey) should be our first reaction.

Missionary of the beauty of imperfection

What we in the Church like to gloss over is the fact that the woman probably went home to the man who wasn’t her husband. Her life wasn’t immediately transformed on the spot, but her shame was. That’s the only thing that changed about this woman at the well. The weight of shame over her past was lifted. No longer was her focus on her shortcomings, but on the understanding and the visible care of Jesus. And it is this that she wanted to share with others. Maybe she realized it then, maybe not, but her past which was painfully known by her neighbors provided a backdrop for the brilliance of grace, rather than a sheet covering grace. Her past was no longer something to be ashamed of. And neither was her present.

Missionary of love

Evangelism is a dirty term nowadays. It’s been tarnished by years of this missionary shouting at pagans, that missionary engaging in scandal after scandal, and countless other burdens we humans place on religion. However, evangelism is simply the open declaration of the gospel. It is sharing the beauty that God is working in a life that may otherwise be ordinary, or even downright ugly. It’s this gospel that transformed a town slut (as she was seen) into history’s first recorded evangelist. And what did she say to her neighbors? She didn’t tell them they were all condemned to hell. She didn’t tell them they needed salvation or even why. She only said, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” All she did was show them to Jesus. This is what a missionary should be. Using her life as the context, she pointed her neighbors gently and lovingly toward the man, toward God, who loved her for who she was.

Because the Kingdom of Heaven is the now and not yet, we have to be comfortable with the fact that we as missionaries will be imperfect. We will stumble over our words. We will sin. We will fail. We have failed multiple times in the past. However, this makes the grace and love of Jesus no less salient. In fact, I argue it makes it more so. Yes, we are different, but in that our shame no longer defines us. We are the same as we were yesterday, only we have seen and accepted the loving forgiveness of the kind Messiah at the well. Our stories are messy, dirty, and we’d rather hide them. But it is our stories that connect us with those around us. It is our stories that bring credence to the greatness of God’s infinite love. It is our stories that give us a platform to point others toward a Savior who deeply loves and cares for even the town outcast. Today, be a missionary, friend. However you do it, share the love of Jesus with someone today. You have no reason not to.