A Bible study through John 1-6
Stories are powerful. There’s a reason why fiction is a top selling genre and the movie industry is so big and influential in our culture. People connect with stories. It resonates with them on a personal, emotional, and experiential level. Stories can shape people’s opinions, perspectives, values, and worldview. They also have the potential to impact people’s future and change the trajectory of their lives.
Nonfiction, real life stories carry even more weight because it involves real people and their real experiences. Therefore, as we seek to change the world and build the kingdom of God on earth, one of the most effective tools God has given us is our testimonies. The story of a life changed by the power of God has more influence than thousands of well-articulated, power-packed sermons. This truth is evident at the end of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4.
“Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’”
After encountering Jesus, the woman at the well returned to her town and shared her story. Remember this is the same woman who was trying to keep a low profile and avoid the awkward stares and whispers of these same townspeople by going to the well at midday. However, her life-changing conversation with Jesus altered everything.
No longer was she a broken, ashamed, rejected, and guarded woman with a past. Now she had a story to share of a man who “told me all that I ever did” and still sat with her and talked to her with love and compassion. The Samaritan woman’s life was radically changed that day and she immediately told others about what had happened. And it was this immediate sharing that sparked revival in Samaria.
John tells us that many Samaritans believed in Jesus because of this woman’s story. However, the Apostle John further highlights that it wasn’t just her testimony that saved them, but these townsfolk came to believe in Jesus because they too heard and saw Jesus and through that experience realized that He is the Savior of the world. A changed life has great power to spread the gospel; however, a personal encounter with Jesus is still required in order for others to experience the same life transformation. It wasn’t enough for the Samaritans to just hear the woman’s testimony; they needed to hear Jesus’ message for themselves.
Therefore, it is important for us to remember that while our testimony is the greatest, most effective witnessing tool at our disposal, it is just an avenue through which we can bring people to the feet of Jesus. Lives will not be changed by our testimony alone, but only by the life-giving power of the words of Christ. May we, therefore, always share our stories and use our testimony to spread the gospel in a way that draws people into a personal encounter with the risen Lord. May those we talk and share with repeat the words of the Samaritans:
“It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”