Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Jesus Unfiltered – Believe Resources on sale now.
About this series
Jesus Unfiltered - Believe
When life gets really hard, because of choices you've made, or circumstances in which you find yourself, wouldn't it be great to know you've got the source of all wisdom and strength right there with you? That's what Jesus promised you could have. That's what He longs to do for you. Knowing the real Jesus is the most important relationship you will ever have. Chip Ingram reveals, from Scripture, who Jesus really is and how you can have this relationship - beginning today and for forever!More from this series
Honesty with ourselves and with God is the prerequisite to authentic relationship with Christ. He gently takes her to a place where she has to be honest.
Jot down, if you would, in the corner: Psalm 145:18. This has been transformational – it’s one verse, one truth. It says this, “The Lord is near to those who call upon Him,” – that’s like praying, right? “to those who call upon Him in truth.”
A little bit later He is going to say that the Father is seeking or pursuing ordinary, regular people who would worship in spirit and in truth. This woman has to understand: You have to come out of your denial, you have to come out of your self-hatred, you have to come out of your lying, you have to come out of all the stories you have told to all kinds of people.
And we’ve got to understand we can’t share the truth unless we have it. If you want to have an authentic, deep relationship – you have to cut through all the denial, all the blaming, all the stuff and get ruthlessly honest with God. My experience with my own self and my experience even with pastors and missionaries and my experience with God’s people is we spend an inordinate amount of time projecting, protecting, denying, blaming others, giving people unlimited amounts of, yeah, it’s true – it’s just not the whole truth.
And we play all kinds of games to project that we are a little bit more loving, a little more kind, a little more holy, a little different than we really are. And so instead of the power of God welling up as a spring that flows out into the lives of others, our energy is spent trying to project that we are better than we are. Because we don’t want to face, it is a painful thing to face the truth, isn’t it?
I remember a number of years ago, I had what I would call the most radical experience of someone being honest with me, ever. The guy was not a Christian. And if you have ever seen people – totally unchurched, totally “I don’t know what’s going on,” came in off the streets.
Then Monday I came in and the same guy was around. I said, “Hi, how are you doing?” He gave me his name. I said, “I kind of saw you wandering around.” He goes, “Yeah.” I said, “Your first time?” He goes, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, how did you find it?” He goes, “I was just walking by and I saw the sign and something said, Go in. I have been clean and sober three and a half months. I have twenty-five-year drug and alcohol habits. My life is just absolutely, absolutely messed up. But I am on a journey. And I’m trying to find the higher power. And something said He might be in this building. So I came! I listened to you yesterday. I think you might know Him!”
He said, “Now, I would like, would you do step four with me?” I said, “What’s step four?” He said, “Step four is a ruthless inventory of my life where I stop blaming or denying and own every single part of my responsibility in anything I have ever done wrong, so that I can clean the slate and confess that to another individual, so that I can move from there to step five.”
And we had a significant Celebrate Recovery so I called Jim who led it and I said, “Jim, what is this about step four because I am new at all this stuff?” And he said, “It’s what that guy said.” I said, “I don’t know anything about this and would you do it with me?” And he said, “Sure!”
So the guy that afternoon comes, gets in my office and I’m there, Jim’s there, and no Christian clichés, no, “Do you want to pray? How are you doing? It’s nice to be…” None of that. He has a legal pad that looked thirty, forty pages that he had written, scribbled, he sat down, looked at me, “When I was in junior high…” and then he graphically described a horrid thing that he did.
And then after he described specifically what he did, “I will no longer blame my father who abused me as a little boy from this age to this age. I now come out of denial and refuse to blame him or other people for this. I personally own my responsibility for exactly what I did to this person and I am very sorry for it.”
And we went from junior high to high school to multiple marriages to prison to lying to cheating. And two hours, we went through about twenty-five pages and I had an elders’ meeting. I turned to Jim, “I think we have another couple of hours.” And I said, “Could you finish up?” He said, “I got it.”
I have been in Bible studies, I’ve been with leaders, I have been with pastors – I have never, ever seen a human being be ruthlessly honest about every aspect of their life and own their responsibility. And little did he know that when we confess our sins to one another, we are healed.
I don’t know where you’re at in your life, but I will say that ruthless honesty with yourself and God will be the beginning of the Spirit of God, one, making you awake to what – you know what? When you do that, you need a Savior. Right? A lot of people don’t come to Christ, you don’t need Him. The reason you don’t need Him is you haven’t been honest about who you really are – the motives, the coveting, the lust, all the rest that we – hey, by the way, if you’re human, you have all that stuff.
And Jesus leads her gently to a place where what she realizes is, I need the truth, but I don’t know how to get it. And so in the next section, notice the big idea, the summary is Jesus explains how true worship works. Well, how does this work? This living water? How does your life ever really change?
And so He begins to explain to her. He says, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know.” You have a form of religion and you’ve got a system, but it’s in error. “We worship what we do know for salvation is from the Jews.” God’s plan for Messiah, the Savior of the world, is going to come through Abraham and the special people.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” Circle the word seeks – we’ll come back to it.
Why? “God is spirit,” God is immaterial, God is spirit. He’s not a geographical place. It’s not on this mountain. It’s not some system. It’s not some religious stuff. “God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in Spirit,” from the heart, not external religious activities, “and truth,” ruthlessly honest.
“The woman said, Okay, she is going from, Look, You started talking about the God stuff, prophet, let’s argue about theology or smokescreens or your mountain, my mountain. And Jesus said, “Look, I’m not getting into political talk with you. We’re not going to talk about types of baptism or whether electric guitars or organs are best in churches, or we’re not going to talk about whether you’re Armenian or this or that or Calvinistic.
No smoke screens. I am talking about you and your life and your heart. God loves you.”
And then, finally, she gets this thought. Can you imagine, for her, I’ll guarantee she has never had a relationship with a man that was meaningful and deep and valued her and saw her as precious. And now this prophet, who she thinks says, “The Father,” God? This distant probably angry God with rules to keep? Father! Father! You’re His daughter! He loves you! He cares for you! You come honestly and from the heart, He is seeking! The word means “pursuing!”
That’s why He had to go through, that’s why He had to go through Samaria. There was a divine appointment. There is a city called Sychar and there is a woman who is worthless and no one cares about her except her Father. And so Jesus cuts through, sits on a well, violates nearly everything possible that you could in terms of prejudice, gender, background, race so that this person who no one cares about could understand: There is a Father, God. And He is seeking, He is pursuing.
Your neighbor, He is pursuing; your coworkers, He is pursuing; your kids, He is pursuing. And it’s the Jesus in you that needs to show up and not just observe the Bible or interpret the Bible or even apply it to your life, but to communicate it. How? The way He did. Gently, lovingly, caringly, non-judgmentally. But probing to where you get to the truth. And now the lights come on, she goes, “I think we’ve got something in common.”
“When the Messiah comes, the Savior of the world, when that person comes, He will make everything right.” What You’re talking about, I get it. Look in your notes. What does Jesus say?
He does something that – the Pharisees ask Him this, the disciples are slow on the uptake of this, this is an immoral woman from a half-breed race, completely rejected by Jews. And of all people, talk about revelation – “Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” A literal translation, because especially for someone who only believes in the first five books of the Bible, literally it’s, “I that am talking to you – I AM.”
Anybody remember where the word “I AM” came from? Exodus chapter 3. “Moses, take off your shoes,” burning bush, worshipping, this is the job. “Who shall I say sent me?” “Tell them: I AM THAT I AM sent you.” He is telling this woman, “I am the Messiah and I am God. And I value you, I love you, I forgive you, I want to give you eternal life.”
Just as Nicodemus learned he needed to be born again from above and have a spiritual birth to have spiritual life, she is now receiving the offer, “I know when the Messiah comes…” “You’re standing in front of Him.”
Notice the application. Life lesson number four: True worship is a matter of honest relationship, not religious systems. Jesus is talking about a relationship. He has revealed a completely, completely new view of God.
Can I ask you: How do you see God? We’re talking about reaching out and loving people and having conversations. How do you see God? Is He a Father who pursues you?
We often talk so importantly because it’s true that Jesus is God, “If you have seen the Father, you have seen Me.”
But how many of you, when you read this this week thought to yourself, Wow, Jesus got tired. Why? Because He walked for two days. Well, Jesus is thirsty. Why? Because He hadn’t drunk something in a while.
Do you realize that the reason God became not just fully God, but fully human in human form is so that He could understand – He knows when you’re tired, He knows when you feel impatient, He knows when your back hurts, He knows when you’re anxious, He knows when life is hard, He knows when you’re up half the night.
He is not just fully God, He is fully human. So His heart, He was tempted in every way, like us. He understands you! And, yet, somehow we get Him so far away as opposed to when you just come and you’re honest and someone really loves you, have you ever prayed prayers like, Lord, I’m really tired. I have a really bad attitude. I know the right thing to do. I don’t feel like doing it right now. I know I’m supposed to forgive so-and-so, but this is, like, the fourth time. Candidly, between us, I’d like to punch him out.
These are the kinds of prayers God wants to hear! Instead of, Well, I know I should do something spiritual…I’ll try…Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…if I say seven of them really fast, will it help?
See, that is what the religion was then. External performance, trying to please a God who is unpleasable. Now notice this is so precious, the next big idea is Jesus allows her wounds to be leveraged to bring others to faith in Himself.
“Just then His disciples returned and they were surprised,” understatement, “to find Him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking to her?’” Literally, that’s an idiom from the Middle East, “Why are You talking to her?” – literally is: “Do you want us to get rid of her?” Because that’s what a servant would do, it would be like, “Whoa, this is inappropriate. Hey, Boss, you want us…?”
But they thought, We’re not sure what’s going on here, but they have now learned, Just shut up. “‘Come and see,’ the lady says, leaving her water jar, the woman goes back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come and see a Man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’” She has got no platform to preach, “Could this be?” What do you all think?
“They came out of the town and they made their way toward Him. Meanwhile His disciples urged Him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’” And, again, you see, Nicodemus, Wind, Spirit, deeper truth. Water, real water; food, real food. Do you get it?
So the disciples are living at the very functional level. “Could someone have brought Him food?” I mean, we are out in the middle of nowhere, the town is about a half mile away, Did He order takeout while we were gone? This is ridiculous.
“Jesus says, ‘My food,’” what satisfies, what matters, what’s meaningful, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” What is your food? What matters? Where does your energy go? Where does your time go? What are your dreams about?
See, whatever we think food is, drives us. Think of what we do when we are hungry. I’ve got to get this. And for some of us, when I get my house, or when we have kids, or when I get married. That’s my food. But no matter what food you get, it’ll never, ever satisfy.
I have a confession to make. I will say this as kindly as I can. I’m rooting for the Seahawks today. They asked me to do the chapel, the guy who was normally going to do it couldn’t make it, so I did the chapel for the Seahawks.
And as I spent about an hour with those guys, I taught and then we shared and I taught and kind of gave them some tools to help them grow. And one of the great conversations was this. His assistant, the guy that orchestrates everything, is a very strong Christian and I had the most time with him. And he said, “You know what the biggest thing that happened after last year was the level of let-down, not just with unbelievers, but with believers.” It was like, “The Super Bowl! The Super Bowl! The Super Bowl! If we are ever champions, our food! Champions of the world! We got the ring! We have done it! Our legacy!” And he said it was like, “We won the Super Bowl.” And literally, the non-Christians were going, forty-eight hours later, “This is it? We have been hyped up for this? This is the pinnacle of being a pro football player? This is it?” And then he said the Christian players, it was like, “We know Jesus and we know this isn’t really it, but we all get caught up and stuff.” And as they got together and said, “This is it?” And he said, “The conversations for the last year were, ‘How do you get motivated and realize, hey, this is a great opportunity, but football cannot be your food. Because football, even as a Super Bowl champion, will not satisfy.’ Neither will going public, neither will a big house on the hill, neither will having all your kids turn out great, neither will finding the hottest, cutest, whatever person out there that you want. Neither will getting in just the right school at the right time. Have I hit most of them? What is your food?
Jesus said, “My food is to do the will,” nothing will satisfy you ever until you understand, What is God’s will for me? And you do it and you finish it.
Jesus, in response, says, “Do you not know there are four months more until the harvest? I tell you the truth, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages; even now he harvests a crop for eternal life,” notice the metaphor. It’s agricultural. You sow; you reap. You sow in about September, you reap in about April or March.
And then as you plant, in about four months, don’t you say it’s coming? He goes, “No! We are talking about a harvest that comes right now, spiritually. And it’s for eternal life.”
“Thus the saying, ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap where you have not worked. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” Others – Old Testament prophets. John the Baptist. In this situation, Me. And now this woman. This woman of ill repute. They have done all the work and now it’s only a half a mile out. People from this town are coming out. Hundreds of people are following the lowliest person and the disciples are seeing all these people and He goes, “Look, behold, the harvest is ripe! I had to come through Samaria. Before we came here, you all were prejudiced. You wouldn’t even talk to a Samaritan.”
They were half-breeds. It’s like some of you, you look at people and you see their Rolex watch and their Lexus and their big house and you’re intimidated and you think all rich people are this way. Some others of you, you see people in the corner with a little sign, all poor people are that way.
Other people, you see this junky car and you wonder, What are they doing around here hanging? Other people it’s, Man, that guy has a Bentley. Who does he think he is?
Jesus says, “Rich, poor, Asian, Indian, white, black – God doesn’t see as man sees. Man looks at the outward appearance; God looks at the heart.” God doesn’t look at tattoos, God doesn’t look at piercings, God doesn’t look at expensive watches and handbags with insignias that tell you you spent ten thousand dollars on them. God looks at the person behind all that stuff and He says, “I love you.” But it’s not religion, it’s spirit and in truth.
And so He is teaching the disciples and teaching us, How in the world do we do that? Notice, He says, “I sent you for what you haven’t worked for. Others have worked.”
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” Could you circle the word, believed? It’s everywhere. They have come to faith. And put a box around the word, because. They believed because! He didn’t just have angel dust come down and they all became Christians. They believed because!
Are you ready for this? Most of us, down deep, not everybody, but most of us feel like, God could never really use me at work, or my neighborhood, or with the other ladies, or with this group, or to be really bold for Christ because, one, I don’t know enough. Two, I don’t really have a platform. Three, there’s some stuff in my past that if people sort of probed…so all these reasons why God could never use me.
I don’t fit in with that group. Now, let’s back this up. Woman – immoral, half-breed, non-Jew, disrespected, she knows Jesus for maybe fifteen minutes, knows a lot of Bible, right? No reputation. Because of her testimony, her living water in her shares, “This is what He did for me. I can’t answer all your questions. This is what He did for me.”
“Therefore, many did,” – what? They believed.
And then, notice, it goes on. The testimony was, “‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay for another couple days.” And the disciples, can you imagine them? Oh my gosh. We’re going to be staying in Samaritan houses with Samaritan cups! We are violating everything we learned! We are out of our comfort zone!
Two-day revival and Bible conference. Phew! Why? Because Jesus had to go through Samaria because the Father was pursuing that woman that most of us thought no one cares about. Who is God pursuing in your network? Better?
Who is God pursuing in this room? And maybe you just came for whatever reason to watch something or a friend invited you, and you’re going to come to a moment where, if you would be honest, He will forgive you, fill you with His Spirit, give you a brand new life, and take you on a journey. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. But your life is not easy now. He loves you! It’s called grace.
The final life lesson is God will use even our baggage to bring others to eternal life. He will use our baggage. He will use some of the worst things that have happened to us and some of the worst things we have done as we confess and turn from them and ask Him to come into our life and forgive us. And rather than being ashamed, we are literally, like this woman, a trophy of God’s grace set on the mantle and platform that people could know there is always hope. You’re never too far gone. You’re never too messed up. You’re never too immoral. You’ve never lied too much. You have never hurt too many people. If you’ll be honest and turn and come, He will forgive.