Day 40: February 9, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

John 4:5-24 Read Online

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and he would give you living water.”

—John 4:10

Worldview Test
by Lee Swartz, Member of Brentwood Baptist, Brentwood Campus

What’s the nature of ultimate reality? How do we know what’s right and wrong?What does it mean to be human?

The answers to these and other questions are how theologians and philosophers say we identify and determine the foundation of our basic belief system, or our "worldview." And since everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike, has a worldview, then everyone also has, either consciously or unconsciously, answered these questions.

While our answers reveal how we see and understand the world, they more importantly govern how we act and interact with the world and engage in practices that should necessarily produce true human flourishing.

Depending on your source, there are anywhere from 5-25 questions on the worldview test, but in this well-known passage of scripture, Jesus distills it down to 2.

After spending the early part of this conversation with the Samaritan woman digging in the sand beneath her expectations, preoccupations, and religious presuppositions, He abruptly confronts her with Question #1: “Who am I?”

In verse 16, Jesus tells her to return to town, get her husband, and come back. To which she responds, perhaps just as abruptly, “I have no husband.”

He commends her truthful answer and responds with (if I may paraphrase): “Not only have you been honest with me, but you have been honest with yourself.”

In his essay, “A Fairy Tale,” G.K. Chesterton suggests that we suffer from a kind of amnesia in our fallen state. Because of sin, “every human being has forgotten who he (or she) is.” What’s written on our hearts becomes distorted, and as a consequence, we become tragically alienated from ourselves, the world, and God.

It’s an affliction the Enemy is all too happy to aid in misdiagnosing. For in our failure to remember, man begins to form his identity based on what he does, not who he is. But in the inauguration of the Gospel, we, like the Samaritan woman, are confronted with a right view of self—past our perpetually unsatisfying felt material needs—and ushered into a vivid picture of our brokenness and our one ultimate need.

“Who is Jesus Christ?” It's a question that puzzled the first-century religious establishment, the pagan rulers, and His disciples. It’s the same question that baffles and even divides us today. Who is this man?

Is He the Jesus who’s claimed by each side of every political, economic, social, and even denominational division? Is He a myth, a prophet, or just a good man? Or in the evolution of C. S. Lewis’ thought, is He a liar, a lunatic, or God?

In verse 26, Jesus answers worldview question #2 with three words: “I am He.” Three words that fashioned the foundation of the Earth. Three words that sent shockwaves across the first-century world. Three words that ultimately got Him crucified. Three words that would raise Him from death. Three words that still provoke us today.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones says: “If He hasn’t shocked you, you do not know Him.” He shocked the Samaritan woman by even speaking to her. He defied the expectations of the religious establishment. He surprised and bewildered His disciples. He’s the God who is—not the God who we wish Him to be.

If we ask questions at all, we ask a myriad of secondary questions. What about the problem of evil? Pre-millennial or post-millennial? The Apostle Peter once even asked, “Well, what about John?”

We answer these and every other question in ignorance if we can’t answer, in truth, these two primary questions—in the same way one might attempt to solve an algebraic equation without a basic understanding of addition and subtraction.

In our ignorance, blindness, and amnesia, by any other name, we’re powerless to reject the world’s merely palliative solutions that result in co-dependency, addictions, identity crises, false religions, and the gamut of other self-justifications. What gets tragically ignored, however, is that our amnesia isn’t just our loss. It has overwhelming and sometimes disastrous consequences for our families and our community.

But if we know the Truth—the One who is truth and through whom truth is seen, the only One who can slake our deep and abiding thirst—we focus our hearts and minds on the things above, not the things below. We’re concerned not with the things of the flesh, but with the things of the Spirit. And in being so, the recognition and rejection of the world’s haunting dissatisfaction becomes elementary math.

The recovery of our memory, contrary to what the world would have you believe, isn’t found in intently seeking the self, but in being found in the recognition of Jesus Christ.

All of mankind has put its faith and hope in something or someone, and regardless of whom or what that is, no one can escape the confrontation with these two questions.

Reflection Questions

  1. Take the worldview test. Question #1: Who am I?
  2. Question #2: Who is Jesus Christ?
  3. Define human flourishing.

About the Author

Lee Swartz

For the last 20 years, Lee has worked at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and he still manages to enjoy music. He and his wife, Cindy, have a son, Zeke. When he’s not spending time with his family, he’s passionate about reading, studying, spending time with friends, and traveling.