By Beau Crosetto
Last week a few of my buddies and I went to play tennis. We needed a 4th and it dawned on me to invite a guy I play volleyball with. He said yes and we had a great time playing that night. But when we were done I wanted to see if God was up to more so I asked the guy if he wanted to grab a drink and talk a bit in my man cave.
He stuck around and we had a great conversation until about 11:30 at night. The guy is an Indian man with a Hindu background. He is very spiritual but has a completely different view of God than I do. We had a great discussion about faith and at the end I asked him if he would be willing to read a book with me and debate the ideas in the book instead of the ideas in our head.
He said yes! So we are now going to start chewing through “Mere Christianity” and talking about the ideas of truth, morality and if there is one God or not.
I am really excited to keep talking with this guy, but I almost missed the moment. I almost didn’t invite him, almost went to bed when tennis was over, almost didn’t push into the spiritual conversation, and almost didn’t ask him to read a book with me.
It got me thinking about the disciples in John 4 and how they totally missed the moment Jesus had with the woman at the well.
Wake Up and Look Around
As soon as the disciples got to Samaria with Jesus in John 4 (verse 8) they went out to lunch and missed the whole encounter with the woman at the well.
Jesus gives his disciples a little talking to after they miss the missional moment with the woman. As they are talking about food and Jesus tells them he has “food they don’t know about” he goes on to say,
34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[e] for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”
Jesus words are clear that the harvest is now and that his nourishment as well as ours comes from working in the harvest. We need to wake up and look around. The fields are white for harvest and the disciples are missing them. They didn’t see Samaria as a place that was ripe for the gospel and they totally missed a moment with a woman who ended up leading her village to Christ.
Can you believe that Jesus followers missed the moment that led to a village revival?
Why the Disciples Missed the Moment
I think there are two reasons the disciples missed this missional moment
- Gender & Ethnicity
- The disciples never expected Jesus to do anything significant in Samaria let alone go there. Secondly, It would have been beyond their wildest dreams for him to actually talk to a woman. Forget about leading her to God. It just wasn’t on their screen to be on the look out for God moments with someone from a different gender and ethnicity.
- Sowing vs. Reaping Mentality
- They did not think it was harvest season. Jesus challenges them with this in the verses above. The disciples weren’t looking up at the harvest and they didn’t have eyes to see that God was ready to move in people’s lives in this unlikely area. To the disciples, Samaria was a forgotten place and not somewhere their God would move.
Let’s Not Miss The Moment
I can’t help but think about the fact that Jesus is having encounters around us but we are out to lunch and totally missing the encounters.
Honestly, it scares me somewhere deep in my soul that I would pass these by or check out with Jesus when he is about to move.
The disciples missed the whole woman at the well encounter. This encounter that we preach about in church all the time and love as one of our favorite stories and passages of scripture. They missed it! Holy Cow.
Think about it. Who in our neighborhoods, schools, apartments, offices, and teams are having spiritual encounters with Jesus but we are not even tuned in? Who are the people that Jesus is saying, “I have to go there” and we aren’t even paying attention? Or worse, we leave the situation.
I hate even thinking about the fact that you or me would miss these kinds of moments because we are busy
- watching TV
- spending all our time with Christian buddies
- working too much
- studying too hard
- too busy with family
- connecting with people only of the same culture
- we just don’t care that much
- or even, in the disciples case, out to lunch
But we miss these missional moments all the time. The disciples did right here in John 4!
Jesus has incredible encounters planned for us to have with him in the harvest but we need to engage and stick with him. We can’t be going out to lunch so quickly!
Tips For Missional Engagement
Here are a few tips to stay by Jesus side and not check out for lunch right before a powerful encounter happens.
1) Ask God every day where he is at work around you? We have to be asking the Holy Spirit where he is intending to go and who He is wanting to talk to. There are people in our spheres of influence that are ready for an encounter with Jesus but we have to be in tune with where He wants to go.
2) Be open to him asking you to press into an unlikely area. The woman was just that…a woman. And also a Samaritan. She was someone that the disciples would have never expected Jesus to talk to. God crosses boundaries and cultures all the time and he may want to use you in a very cross cultural way. Are you even aware of that and open to that?
3) Understand the harvest is now. The harvest is now, not next week or next month. Jesus gives us a strong challenge here to get reaping. We have to be urgent people in our neighborhoods and at work. We can’t live as though the harvest is later or that people are just not open.
4) Press in a Bit. Many people around us are open but they need us to push in and engage. The woman at the well was not going to appear open until Jesus pressed into conversation. At first glance, many of the people around us may not seem interested at all. But we have to get them alone, ask some questions and find out what God is brewing below the surface.
There is Grace if You Mess Up
My wife made a great suggestion to me to add a little paragraph on grace for this post. The disciples did screw up here in John 4 and so do we sometimes when on mission. But Jesus teaches them and they learn. They end up totally getting the point and engage Samaria with the gospel later in the New Testament. Jesus says in Acts 1:8 that they are to witness even to Samaria, and then in Acts 8 after they are scattered, some of the apostles end up in Samaria and witness there bringing many to faith in Christ. So yes, the disciples missed it in John 4, but they got it later in Acts 8. Even if you have messed up, God’s Kingdom is moving forward and it is not too late to engage!
What is a tip you have for us to stay engaged missionally so we don’t miss the moment? What works for you in your day to day life?