Biblical Realism for Exemplary Christians

God is not a myth and Christians don’t live in a fantasy world. Sure, it’s easy to pass off a God we can’t see. But realism doesn’t ignore the spiritual. It’s a Tiny Virtue for Exemplary Christians who have one foot firmly planted on earth and one foot firmly planted in a spiritual world we see only with spiritual eyes. That’s genuine realism.

Stop and think about it for a moment: is it realism to limit our understanding to what we’ve personally observed and experienced? Is there not a wide world out there which we will never observe? Yet, we don’t doubt its reality.

tiny-virtues-realismThe self-imposed limitation of observation came up in discussion between Jesus and the unnamed Samaritan “woman at the well.” (John 4:4-30) She had many strikes against her in the real world. Jesus, fully aware of that and with full understanding of the spiritual realm calls out to her, kind of an opening serve in tennis,

John 4: 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

The volley of realism begins.

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

Realistic, practical even.

12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus is realistic.

He says you’ll be thirsty if you focus only on what’s physical and not on what’s spiritual.

She’s open to exploring the spiritual part of biblical realism as the volley continues.

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?

In all the messages one can get from this Scripture, I love the confident volleying of realism in this passage. Like a parent watching a child reaching for something truly profound, I always imagine Jesus with a genuine twinkle in His eye as he meets a woman who likes to debate and doesn’t shy away from engaging His intellect. I’d like to think that Jesus got kind of a charge out of someone so steeped in realism that she wanted to know the real deal. And rewarding her efforts, Jesus said, “I who speak to you am he.”

Ponder today: how biblical realism can be a virtue

Bible characters of the day: the Samaritan woman at the well and Jesus Christ, the real deal

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on September 21, 2016

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