I hesitate to share my faith. I struggle to boldly commend the gospel to non-Christians. It’s relationally daunting, and it’s easy to talk myself out of it because I know I don’t have all the answers. But ultimately, underneath every surface-level excuse, my issue is one of identity. I tend to see mission and evangelism as post-conversion tasks to complete and boxes to check. In reality, though, the fuel for mission and evangelism is the fuel for every other aspect of the Christian life: Trusting God, and knowing who God has made/is making me to be. Truly understanding my new identity as an enemy-turned-ambassador will naturally overflow into lifestyle mission (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
The story of the Samaritan woman in John 4 is a beautiful illustration of this truth. Prior to meeting Jesus, this woman was an outcast in every way. She was lonely, ashamed, and broken, but Jesus draws near. Her initial question revealed her shame: "How is it that you a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” Jesus' answer is extraordinary: "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'" Basically, Jesus tells the woman, "If you only knew who I am and what I’ve come to do, it would change everything. You would beg me for what I’ve come to give you. You would approach me because you would finally know who you are in relation to who I am."
As Jesus uncovers her true identity, the woman begins to recognize His true identity. And what happens? She leaves her water jar and runs into the town, telling people to come to Jesus. In a matter of minutes, her shame and guilt turn to confident, faithful evangelism! And many Samaritans from the town believed in Jesus because of the woman's testimony: "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.'"
For the Samaritan woman, faithful mission began with a humble willingness to accept her deepest need. Then, as she came to understand Jesus’ true identity as the Savior of the world, she began to fathom the free gift He was offering, a gift that met her deepest need. He could rewrite her story. He could change her fundamental identity. He could give her a new heart (John 7:37-38). In response to these glorious realities, evangelism is only natural.
As Christians, we do what we do because we are who we are, and we are who we are because of what Jesus has done. Our faithfulness and effectiveness in gospel proclamation is rooted in our new gospel identity. In Christ, you are a new person with a new purpose. We are a new creation, the firstfruits of what’s to come (James 1:18). Having been made new, we offer ourselves up to see the rest of the world made new. Lifestyle mission is the natural result of a life surrendered completely to Jesus, the spring of living water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14). So may we see the true Jesus, and may His living water satisfy our thirst. This well never runs dry, and we live in a thirsty world.