From Water to Spirit and Truth

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)-John 4:9

This woman went to the well late. Usually one would draw water first thing in the morning, but she went at noon time. She was alone at the well and most likely she wanted to be alone. She had good reasons to do this. It was better this way. She chose to separate herself from others voluntarily. However, Jesus disrupted her plans.

The conversation between them is really interesting. They were both talking at different levels. Jesus initiated the conversation at the material level and brought it up from there. She was trying to keep things at a material level. She wanted to keep the conversation on the subject of water. Water was just an excuse the Lord used to bring this woman to new level of spirituality. Jesus wanted to her to become a true worshiper.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.-John 4:23-24

This verse above is the heart of the story. In order to get to this point, it was necessary for this woman to recognize that Jesus had something to give. However, Jesus could not give her anything until she was willing to face the Truth about herself. And she did. She confessed that she had five husbands and was presently in an adulterous relationship. This was why she went to the well late. It was not because she was a Samaritan. They were in Samaritan city and there was no need for them to hide from the Jews. However, her circumstances made her an outcast among a people who were already marginalized. She was considered the lowest of the lowest. Yet, she was the person with whom Jesus chose to share the Truth. She was not ready for it until she admitted to him why she was marginalized. The surprising twist is that Jesus did not dwell on this. He just wanted her to know that He knew about her life and this did not change His mind. She was still His candidate to become a true worshiper.

Jesus started the conversation with water and brought the conversation level up to true meaning of worship. He really knows how to talk up. It started with water, one of the basic material elements and the discussion went on to speak about the essence of God being Spirit. Today the conversations in the Church seem to go the other way round. It seems like everything is being reduced to materialistic notions. Success is gauged on materialistic standards. Today the person that Christians want to emulate is no longer the saint who embraced poverty but the financially successful businessman. I know a group of Christians who skipped an important Church service to attend a talk on how to become a millionaire in five years. If they were at the well with Jesus, they would left Him there and went to this conference. 

In the church, we are still talking about water when Jesus wants to take the conversation upwards to worshipping God in Spirit and Truth. We will never hear the words of Jesus unless we are willing to leave behind our materialistic desires. We cannot have the best both worlds. For the true worshiper, only knowing how to worship in Spirit and Truth can satisfy the soul.

In our ministry, we see the failure of the materialistic mindset. It is not a compassionate mindset. It is a mindset that does not have room for mistakes or failures. Jesus approached a woman who was considered a failure in this world. She failed five times in her marriages and yet she was His choice to be a true worshiper.  God is Spirit and He is not confined by our materialistic notions of success or failure. He is defined by one thing and one thing only. St. John tells us that God is Love. Love is the standard by which God defines a successful person. It is the standard by which we learn to become true worshipers of God.