In the beginning God said “let us make man in our image”. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a relationship and so He made us for relationship.
God said “it is not good for man to be alone”. This was the first thing He said was “not good”. None of us thrive when we feel alone and separate from each other and from God.
God knew that we would flourish in His beautiful Garden; where we were all fully provided for and there was enough for everyone; where all was well and we could belong; where we could walk alongside each other, having trusting open hearts with no fear of rejection or shame.
This kind of place seems almost too good to be true for most of us today. But deep inside all of us, our heart still knows about a place like this. Even if we’ve never experienced this safe, trusting, place in our life story…. it’s as if we have traces of “knowing” this inside our DNA memory, going right back to this Garden. What we are created for echoes true in our heart.
The Fall from this original place that God intended for us has been devastating for our hearts. As we sin and have been sinned against, it leaves us with pain and shame, and so we hide from God and each other by putting up self-protecting walls. We can even try to hide from ourselves, splitting off from the part of us that we don’t like, that we don’t approve of, that doesn’t behave. This split happens and a “good me” / “bad me” is created. Living with a sense that part of us is shameful and unlovable is incredibly painful.
For some of us, what drives us each day, is trying to achieve or present an “acceptable enough me”. When we live with a sense of having a “bad me” we will avoid places and people where we fear being exposed. It feels safer not to go there. This “good/bad me” split keeps us alone and when we feel alone and disconnected, we need something to make ourselves feel better. So we turn to our comforts and addictions. We turn to people who will give us a quick fix of acceptance or some sort of connection, but often at the end of the day, we still feel alone.
Shame keeps us from letting others close and really knowing us. Shame keeps us from relationship. What we need the most we fear the most – relationship!
Jesus gets this! What we were created for in the first place in the Garden, tells us why it hurts and what we’re all still longing and thirsty for. Jesus comes to meet us where shame has split us into “good and bad me”. He meets us in our deepest darkest places where we feel separated from Him, from ourselves and from others, and through the Cross He unites us back into relationship – back to being one whole person unconditionally loved and accepted. Back to belonging.
In the story of the Woman at the Well (John 4) Jesus exposes the lie that if someone really knows our “bad me”, we will be rejected, and so we hide. The Samaritan woman was only too aware of being a “bad girl”. She was hiding by only going out to draw water at the well at midday, when it was so hot that no one else would be around. She knew that she had a reputation, so she would avoid places where she would be shamed further. She couldn’t face any more shame than she already felt.
At this very place, where she feared public shaming, Jesus meets with her. By engaging in a conversation with her He demonstrated that He was not ashamed of her or being associated with her. As a Jewish man He was neither ashamed of her as a woman, as a Samaritan, or as a sinner.
We can believe this lie that you have to be good and clean yourself up before you can come to God. Yet Jesus comes to us as we are.
Jesus starts a conversation with the Samaritan woman and goes straight to the place in her life, where He knows she feels the deepest thirst, and at the same time, the most shame…in her thirst for relationship! He tells her He knows about her five previous husbands and how the one she is with now isn’t actually her husband.
Jesus knows that this woman had been married 5 times shows that she has been seeking to find true love and commitment all her life, but it’s not going very well for her. The fact that this last guy in her life hasn’t actually committed to her, and she has settled for that, exposes her deep thirst for love, her desperation and her vulnerability. She would rather be with a man who isn’t really committed to her than be completely alone.
Even in this relationship, she is still thirsty and Jesus sees her heart.
“If only you knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me and I would give you living water”.
I am the only one who can fill your emptiness. I know how you’ve been trying to fill it yourself, the best you knew how, but I’m the one who will bring you real life so you’ll know what it feels like to be full up! No man, no person, no man-made thing can ever do this…. except Jesus.
What He pours into us, we can keep… “welling up to eternal life”. It comes with commitment and faithful love for all eternity.
He is saying: I’m your Messiah, your Saviour, I’m here to meet you and satisfy your deepest longing for relationship! I know all that has happened to you in your life so far, everything you have done, good and bad. I know your pain, your mistakes, your hopes and I’m not ashamed to be associated with you, to be seen with you. I’m not ashamed of you! I am here to give you life and relationship that will never end.