Laura Sportack - “The woman at the well; Converting conversion”
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Laura Sportack spoke on "Converting Conversion", building on the story in John 4 telling of Jesus meeting the woman at the well (Lois Siemens gave an excellent dramatic presentation of the story). Laura's approach was wonderfully refreshing. She suggested that "living water" may have meant not only magical water but also 'moving water' rather than stagnant well water. Jesus was essentially forced to travel through Samaria, he was tired, thirsty, and hardly looking for an opportunity to talk with a despised foreign woman. Nevertheless, when he was forced to talk with her, he did not hammer her for her sins (she knew what they were already), he refused to be offended by her attitude towards him and towards Jews generally, he did not get into arguments with her about religion, he did not confront her directly about her morals but rather asked indirectly about her family (and then she admitted to her past). He commended her for telling the truth about her 'husband' and revealed to her that he knew about her past. Just as the woman and Jesus were approaching 'holy ground' in their discussion, 12 disgruntled disciples (some later achieved sainthood) came up and essentially ended the conversation. Laura then spoke about conversion. (1) Salvation of souls is not our responsibility any more than is the rotation of the moon – God looks after both. (2) Jesus paid far more attention to the woman's journey than to her destination. (3) Jesus was willing to go outside his comfort zone and get past labels, are we (e.g., homosexuality, housewife, delinquent, professor)? (4) The gospel is mainly revealed indirectly through our lives. "Hitting people with the gospel only wounds them." This reminds one of John 17, where we learn that Jesus came, not to condemn but to save. The story illustrates his mission beautifully and needs to be a new model for our thinking about conversion. [JEK]