We do not know her name. We can only guess her age. But she probably had the longest one-on-one conversation with Jesus recorded in the Bible. It happened at high noon on a hot day. Jesus met her at a rest-stop where he waited while his disciples went into town to get some food. So far so good. Until the exchange began. Have you ever had an occasion to meet someone in a position of power, maybe the president of a corporation, or an official in government? Chances are you might exchange a few pleasantries. Likely you would not challenge that person in a first encounter. Not this woman. She challenged Jesus. In turn, Jesus challenged her. What was the big deal? That’s what we’ll talk about as we continue our series in Encounters with Jesus.
When you look at the lives of famous people you might wonder what it’s like to have everything – money, elaborate homes, cars, clothes. It must be nice to be part of a privileged group who seem to lack nothing in this life. There was a man in Jesus’ day who was part of a privileged group of people – he was a religious insider – a member of the Jewish ruling council. Yet after one conversation with Jesus, he was confronted with the idea that his religion is not enough. What a shock it must have been to hear that something he depended on was part of a bigger problem that needed a different solution. Those who met Jesus were often profoundly affected by their conversations with him. This week we’ll look at how a late night private encounter with Jesus changed this man’s life.
Jesus loved a good conversation. He spoke to everybody, no matter who they were or what they did. He didn’t mince words or shy away from the hard questions, either. Chances are, if you had an opportunity to speak with Jesus – at a wedding, on the road, at a conference, in a church –…
One of the largest dating web sites for singles has an ad campaign showing the excitement experienced by men and women who share the news that “I found someone.” Many romance novels and films create tension and intrigue by keeping audiences in suspense until the final scene when true feelings are revealed. And if you believe the storyline, they live ‘happily ever after’ – at least until the sequel. Whether you are single, dating, married or dealing with various degrees of separation, relationships seem to give us the greatest joys in life. And they can also give us the greatest disappointments. God has answers for all our relationship struggles. In the third part of our series, we take a hard look at our expectations of relationships.
Break ups are tough. There’s that awkward conversation where you try to lessen the blow. And the words come out: “It’s not you, it’s me.” On the other hand, gone are the days when you might actually have a face-to-face conversation. There’s the digital dump. In one study a few years back, more than 56 per cent of young people who experienced a break-up said their relationship ended digitally, either through text message, social media or email. The percentage today might be significantly higher. Relationship experts are quick to point out the common reasons why couples break up – whether it’s control issues, continuous disagreements about finances, to the number one reason – poor communication. What does the Bible say about the challenges we experience in connecting with others? We’ll talk about this in the second part of our series on Relationships.
An ongoing debate today is whether social media networks help us or hinder us in making and keeping friendships. They promise us the ability to connect with others anytime, anywhere, so that we’re never more than a click away from the people in our lives. We can continually monitor what’s happening socially with any number of friends and family. Interestingly enough, studies are starting to show that as our social networks grow, so can anxiety and loneliness. We become susceptible to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, fear of being left out, not measuring up to what others are doing, and even depression. In our increasingly digital age, have we lost the art of making and keeping meaningful friendships? Why is it that we’re all wired with the basic need to connect deeply and emotionally with others – yet it is often so difficult to do? Friendship and relationships are a central theme in the Bible. Join us as we look at these and other questions that will help us to navigate the world of relationships.