This idea of being passionately pursued is incredible and in some ways seems to good to be true, like a fairy tale. It is everything that the heart desires, but seems too good to be true. What the fairy tales say and what is later realized in real life are two different things. Fairy tales tell us that true loves kiss conquers all, if we sleep and wait, prince charming will come and kiss us and awake us and we will live happily ever after! The end! The world tells us a different story. It tells us a story of perfection. To find prince charming you’d better look like the cover of that magazine. A cover that has been airbrushed to perfection, yet you’d better become that perfect if you want someone to love you. To find prince charming you’d better be more talented then the next girl. To find prince charming you’d better dress in a way that allures his eyes. Then the process of keeping prince charming comes into play. To keep prince charming you must keep the chase going. To keep prince charming you’d better not show him all of your feelings. To keep prince charming you’d had better be willing to give him what you want. To keep prince charming you had better be perfect. The end result is in the pursuit of perfection by worldly standards, hurt occurs, loss of identity occurs, and realization that this kind of perfection does not exist occurs. Nor should it. That desire to be pursued is lost on a desire to be loved creating an ambush of insecurity within the pursuit of perfection.
Jesus loves you! He displays His love for you perfectly! His love is more powerful then the dream of the fairy tale true loves first kiss. It is real and active and present always. The amazing thing is He doesn’t love you once you have become perfect for Him. He loves you as you are. If that is hard to believe, then open a Bible to John 4 and read more about this perfect pursuit of love. In this chapter Jesus has an encounter with a woman at a well. Not just any woman, a Samaritan woman. The significance behind where she comes from is dynamic to the story. In those days a journey from one place to another required walking, and we are talking miles upon miles of walking, in sandals, in the dirt. It would have been quite normal and acceptable by the standards of the world back then to avoid Samaria in the pursuit of the journey in an effort to avoid the people. The logic isn’t quite there, because the avoidance of Samaria required miles and miles and miles of extra walking on the journey. Jesus did not avoid the people. He took the journey less traveled and there we see on display His agape love.
A woman came to the well as Jesus was there. The time of day she was there says it all. She wasn’t there with her friends. She wasn’t there socializing. She was alone. She had become somewhat of an outcast to her society due to the life she lived. Sound familiar? How many times do we live under the covering and isolation of shame due to a mistake, or due to a feeling of unworthiness that the world has put on us, or due to not feeling like we can meet the standards of society in talent or beauty? On this day however, that covering of shame was about to be removed. Sitting at the well was the Savior of the world, who had the gift she had been longing for. Jesus did not look at her with condemnation. I imagine He looked at her with gentle love mixed with beautiful truth. Don’t we desire to see eyes of gentle love and truth. Jesus took time with this woman. He engaged in quality time. He didn’t see her as an outcast, He saw her as her. His beautiful creation.
“7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”- John 4: 7-10
I can imagine her mind rolling with question. Ummm… don’t you realize who I am. Your people don’t talk to my people. Let alone the fact that her people probably did not talk to her either. The covering of shame has a way of staying with us always. Even if we meet a stranger, doesn’t that shame find a way to always be the first thing on our mind. The feeling of trying so hard to keep it hidden, yet feeling exposed to the world at every moment.
Jesus continues and in a way that breaks that shame down. Jesus, this perfect stranger to this woman, continues the conversation. Usually even if we feel exposed in our shame or imperfection, the perfect stranger on the other end does not in all reality know that flaw, but the God of all creation, in human form knows. Jesus the one who passionately pursues us, offers her living water, knowing everything she had ever done. He is able to tell this woman everything she had ever done. Having five husbands and the man she was living with not being one of those five. Can you imagine the look on her face and the thoughts running through her mind? How do you know this and better yet why are you still talking to me? You just exposed my deepest insecurity the things I don’t talk about and yet you are willingly talking to me.
Jesus' is displaying love in action. He does not say hey I know everything and by the way wow you have done a lot. He does not even make the things she's done really a focused topic of conversation. He offers her living water! He continues to talk with her. He loves her for who she is, not for who she should be or could be. Not only that He offers for her to be part of the story, after revealing His knowledge of the things she has done. This woman gets to be part of the story!!!!! WOW! This fills my heart with such joy and awe! Jesus' love is just filling my heart right now! So what does she do! Well, she does not wait to become perfect before becoming part of the story. She proclaims to her people, probably the very ones who had shamed her, to come and see this man who told her All the things she had done. Wow! Talk about a covering of shame coming off quick. She didn’t wait and say “Hey Jesus this is cool, but after I become better I will tell people about what just happened!” She proclaimed it right then and there.
“28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” –John 4:28-30
The response was lives being changed! Not just hers but others in the town. Praise the Lord for His covering of love that takes away the covering of shame. Praise the Lord for loving us as we are, imperfect and sometimes even living in shame, and offering us living water and inviting us to be part of the story.
Think of the power of her testimony to those people. Each of them had probably gossiped about her. Maybe they were friends with her at one point but after too many mistakes now they had shamed her, talked about her, or even condemned her. I don’t know what happened specifically to her, but I can imagine by today’s standards what it might have looked like. And Jesus, the pursuer of our hearts, the one who knew no sin, LOVED her! He knew her inside and out and He loved! He called her worthy of living water right there in that moment! He didn’t wait for her to become better, He let her be part of the story right then right there! The result is powerful! The result is life changing! The result of her actions gives us hope today! The false hope of true loves first kiss told to us in fairy tales has nothing on the true, existing, and life changing power and strength of Jesus’ agape love!
I love that the Bible is full of action verbs. It does not simply tell us that “God so loved the world that He Gave His only Son” John 3:16. In the most action-filled sense of love as a verb, the Bible shows us that gift! The gospel books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the good news of this gift. Within these pages we get to see God in human form through Jesus, living out the gift of His love. Pursuing us, in gentle truth and love.