We have formulas for everything. We can’t get up and get dressed without following some kind of formula. We know that you put on underwear before pants. In a previous post I discussed how in the Greek the word that would be translated formula or recipe is the same word used for the marks or impressions (holes) of Jesus hands. So Jesus is our formula. His life, death and resurrection is our pattern to follow. In some way, mostly outside our understanding, we are following a formula of Jesus. We die to our old self and old way of thinking. We put to death the fallen nature. We are raised again as a new creation with new wiring as a new kind of creature. We now have the capacity to see differently. We have the capacity to love as God loves. We are actually His home on this Earth. We are joined with the Holy Spirit and live as the very expression of Jesus to others. Still we really want our formulas.
As humans still participating in human things we need our order and discipline. We just can’t seem to give up our trust in routine and predictability. Even the most brilliant people, the ones who operate on another plain, find formulas for the answers. Einstein wrote about relativity. The basic idea is that the speed of light is constant. Light (photons) can’t travel any faster or slower. If you are on a spaceship and you have a flashlight you can’t impart a speed to the light of the flashlight because it is on the moving spaceship. If that were the case every time a tree moved in the breeze the image we see would get smeared and distorted with colors. So time has to be a variable. So if I am going fast, really fast my time must slow down since the velocity of the light is constant. Too much? The point is… even the stuff that stretches our brain needs a formula to understand it. God is way outside of formulas.
Jesus has this encounter with a woman at a well in Samaria that breaks all the rules of formulas. He has a conversation and she gets revelation? She hears stuff about herself that must be from God and Jesus gets fed? The finer points of theology regarding worship locations are discussed and dismissed as the concept of worship changes because of Jesus? Water becomes living? Harvest times are outside of time? Formulas are disproved. Here are a few excerpts:
John 4: 10 Jesus answered her, “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.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
This woman is already perplexed just because this Jewish man has a conversation with a Samaritan woman in the middle of the day. Not only that but Jesus asks her for a drink. This was unheard of, a formula breaking encounter in the extreme. Then He responds with this idea of living water? In the natural, living water was from a stream. It would be from the ground likely spring fed, bubbly and fresh. There aren’t any streams near by.
John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
This is the transition from formulas to trust. See when she wants what Jesus has but is still hanging on to her present reality? She wants to be free from her reality and step into His. The conversation continues and Jesus reveals stuff about her life that couldn’t be known by anyone except God. This is her “wonder” moment. Now she is shaking off her chains of formulas about worship, relationships between men and woman, and so much more. Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah. Now she is free indeed. She has met the one that is outside of formulas.
Take a look at John chapter 4 with a new set of eyes. Try to see outside of formulas. Don’t try to fit any of what Jesus says into a religious paradigm but instead see the freedom He is offering. In one short exchange on a hot afternoon in the desert Jesus disproves a number of formulas that were based on a limited perspective.
water and thirst
tradition and importance
well water and living water
men and women
Jews and Samaritans
food and hunger
worship and locations
worship and types
There are likely many more that I missed. The last one I want to leave you with is this idea of harvests and times. Jesus makes a reference to harvesting. You may have been taught this discussion was about Jews and Gentiles and Law and Grace. I believe, however Jesus is really trying to get us to see outside of time itself. Even though it appears the fields aren’t ready, for Jesus He sees the fields as ready independent of time. It isn’t a rebuke, it is vision.
John 4:35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest
When we see something one way and are stuck in our formula then all we see is stuff that doesn’t add up. Maybe you can’t see how to pay the next bill. Maybe you are stuck in a broken relationship with no way out. Maybe you have an addiction. Maybe you have lost hope in yourself or others. Maybe you are seeking God and can’t seem to find Him, He seems far away. Maybe you just want more understanding or wisdom. Maybe you just don’t care anymore.
All those lies, despairs, pains, circumstances are based on formulas that you (we) have. They aren’t God’s formulas. They are man’s formulas. Jesus worked outside of formulas. In His reality dead people aren’t dead. In His reality a boy’s lunch is a feast for thousands. In His reality storms are a nuisance. The key to live like Jesus is to live like Jesus. Jesus trusted His Father completely. Jesus wasn’t trapped by human understanding, wrong teaching, religious rigor, experiential disappointments, broken relationships, limited realities or any of our formulas. Jesus knew His Father. We also get to know our Father. We have the Spirit of Christ in us. We are no farther from our Father than our own breath. We can trust Him. Trust disproves any formula that chains us to some limited reality. God is unlimited. Miracles are just normal for God. We get to have the same reality as Him. He is our Dad. He loves us that much.