By Alan Ahlgrim
Jesus shocked a Samaritan woman by speaking directly to her. This was a remarkable, even unthinkable, departure from the social rules of the culture. No honorable man, much less a respected rabbi, would ever risk his reputation by doing such a thing.
Relationships Trump Rules
Clearly, for Jesus relationships trump rules. Jesus was so concerned for the woman’s welfare that he took the direct approach. He seized the opportunity of casual conversation to candidly address her deepest need. That all happened when Jesus violated the social protocols both of gender and culture and asked for a drink of water. One simple question led to an amazing exchange about “living water,” ultimately addressing the woman’s deepest need.
Most of us probably have catalytic conversation opportunities every day. It might be in a social setting or a business meeting. It might be through a simple inquiry or a brief comment. Time and again it’s the personal word that means the most. Whenever someone says, “I’ll never forget something you said,” rarely is it from a sermon I’ve preached. Most of the time it’s something I said in a personal conversation. Even though I’ve been privileged to address large gatherings of people for many years, my private and personal comments usually carry more weight than public ones.
Everyone has the opportunity to personally influence others for Christ. Recently a woman in our church shared a surprising illustration of that. Carolyn was literally run over by a bus five years ago while riding her bike on the side of a major highway. Some wondered whether she would live. No one expected that she would ever ride her bike again. After she endured multiple surgeries and learned to eat and walk again, I simply inquired about the progress of her recovery. God used that simple question to motivate her to determine to move beyond the status quo. Carolyn just completed a 20-mile bike ride!
Never doubt that personal words are the most powerful. We all have opportunity to share them.
Alan Ahlgrim is the lead minister at Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado.
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