Faith: Tailored to You
We want to have it all – but how much can one man really offer?
What if a man really could ‘complete’ our lives? We explore what grace has to offer.
Do you ever feel like the internet can read your mind? This morning, I turned on my computer to check the price of a new book I wanted. Before I’d even had a chance to look, an email popped up from Amazon, personally addressed to me, offering the book half price. Win! Email subscriptions, ‘Likes’ on Facebook and Twitter followings allow brands to track our interests, searches and tastes in order to tailor their marketing to what they know we want.
This is great, but can get a bit awkward when the sidebar on your Facebook page is flooded with online dating websites. ‘I promise I have never Googled mysinglefriend.com!’ we cry. Sure you haven’t. And the sinister side to this kind of marketing is that, inevitably, they are trying to get something out of you.
I used to feel like this is what Christianity was about. Something insidious, hiding its true intentions and tracking every decision I made with the ultimate aim of controlling my actions and choices. Promising something ‘better’, but trying to force my hand to take it.
Looking back, I realise these thoughts were clouded by ideas on ‘religion’ rather than ‘grace’. Religion tries to dictate our actions and make us fit a certain mould. Grace, on the other hand, liberates, and comes down to meet us where we are, offering more than we could ever give. And it’s not exclusive, it’s offered to everyone.
We see grace working like this when Jesus meets a random woman by an old well. He asks her for a drink (of water, not for a date!). Here’s what happens in John 4 vv.9-15:
‘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.)
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… whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
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.”’
He had offered her what she truly wanted, far more than she expected and more than she could ever give in return. Unlike the rest of His society, He didn’t care that she was from Samaria and therefore a racial ‘undesirable’. Her tainted past didn’t sway Him either. When she confesses her past to Jesus in vv.17-18, His response is very matter-of-fact:
‘”I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 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.”’
It’s as if He could read her mind. He knew each of her past decisions, each of her actions, but He also knew what she wanted. He saw what she was searching for beyond the depths of the well, and tailored Himself to her needs without judging her choices. She was looking for water and love, but the water from the well and her string of five husbands didn’t seem to satisfy. So He offered her something more permanent – His endless love. If someone could meet your deepest desires, what would they offer you?
Written by Yosola Olorunshola