John 4:15-24

The woman said, "Sir, give me this water so I won't ever get thirsty, won't ever have to come back to this well again!"

He said, "Go call your husband and then come back."

"I have no husband," she said.

"That's nicely put: 'I have no husband.' You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough."

"Oh, so you're a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?"

"Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God's way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration." // John 4:15-24, The Message


When I slowed down and read this story again, with fresh eyes, I was left a bit scandalized. Were you? What Jesus says here challenges me so deeply and leaves me experiencing a deeper sense of grace and mercy.

As a pastor I live and work within the religious industrial complex. Within that complex there are many tribes. Within those tribes there are tribes. So, for instance, I am in the Western Protestant tribe. Within that tribe I am Reformed. Within that tribe I am Presbyterian. Within that tribe I am part of the Evangelical Presbyterians. Within that tribe I am Missional. Within that tribe I am house church movements.

It’s like nesting dolls of tribal identity and those are just the broad tribal alignments that have to do with what kind of congregation I lead.

We love our tribes. We love knowing who is with us and who is against us. There is something marvelously delicious about knowing who our enemies are. Don’t you agree?

Yet, according to Jesus none of it matters.

Not one bit of it.

Not a single iota of it.




Nope, not even that.

Wrong, that doesn’t matter either.

Sorry, it doesn’t.

We have so deeply missed the plot that we might as well not even be in the same book as Jesus. Jesus is out here challenging everything that we think we know about God and worship and all that and we just keep on fighting and arguing the same silly little battles that people have for years.

In this story it’s Jew and Samaritan. In our story it might be Pentecostal, Dispensational, and Reformed. Maybe it’s Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant. Could be “Woke” and “Non-woke.” Maybe it’s Apple and Android.

Whatever it is, it’s the same tired story and it doesn’t matter anymore.

All that matters Jesus says is that people, “are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.

That’s it.

That’s all that matters.

Nothing else.

Nope, not that.

Nor that.

Not even that.

All that matters is simply and honestly being yourself before the divine in worship. That is all that matters, at least according to Jesus.

Perhaps he’s wrong.

Could be, but it seems unlikely.

A motto in our home is that God is sovereign and good. If I believe that, then I can rest in this radically subversive thing that Jesus says here.

All that matters is simply and honestly being yourself before the divine in worship.

Nothing else matters.