The Core Issue


Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?
—John 4:19–20
Sometimes when we share our faith, people want us to go off on a tangent. When we start talking to them about their need for God, they’ll come back with questions like, Well, if God is good, why does He allow suffering? And what about a person who has never heard the gospel? What will God do with them?

While you’re answering one question, they’re moving on to another. It’s a diversionary tactic.

That’s what happened as Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman by the well. She was getting uncomfortable, so she tried to get Him off the subject. She said, “So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” (John 4:20 NLT).

The Jews and the Samaritans had an ongoing debate about where they were to worship God. The Jews, of course, believed they should worship God in the temple that He had established in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Samaritans had their own temple and their own views.

Jesus could have easily gone down this road, because it was a heated debate. But He answered it very succinctly, pointing out what was right. Then He brought it back to the big issue: “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (verse 24 NLT).

He brought this woman back to what really mattered, what was really essential. Her initial cynicism gave way to curiosity, and ultimately, she believed on the spot.

In the same way, when we’re sharing the gospel, we should try to answer questions to the best of our ability. But then we need to bring it back to the core issue: their need for Jesus Christ

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