“Woman, believe me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the father . . . but an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the father in spirit and in truth . . . .” John 4: 21-23
There’s a Polish proverb which millennials often use today: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” It’s a way of saying, “Don’t drag me into your drama and your issues—I’m not getting involved.”
My daughter used this phrase once and it captured me, because Jesus used this thinking often. The Samaritan Woman at the well in John 4 is a perfect example. We know the story; when Jesus asks the woman to call her husband, she says, “I have no husband.”
And what does Jesus say to this? He tells her something he would not be expected to know; that she has had five husbands and is currently living with a man who is not her husband. Stunned I’m sure, she responds, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.”
Let’s pause for a moment and say collectively, “No kidding!”
She goes on however: “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain and you people (Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
Jesus response? In the words of the Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” In John 4:21-23 he cuts right to the heart of the matter, saying it doesn’t matter where we worship; it matters who and how we worship.
I love it. Jesus never got sucked in to religious debates on non-essential issues. He was about one thing: Reconciling men and women with his father. To Jesus, peripheral matters were a waste of time.
When we reach out to those who enter our centers, clinics and maternity homes, we can count on faith questions. But just like the Samaritan Woman, many of these questions will be peripheral, such as “Do you believe in this doctrine? Do you believe a Christian can do this? That?”
Most of the time, those seeking answers to peripheral issues want to find a dividing point; a way to say, “You don’t believe like me, so I won’t listen to you.”
If we wish to reach others with the love of Christ, our mission begins by finding the heart of the matter, like Jesus did. A few moments after the Woman at the Well asked her non-essential question, Jesus’ response—piercing her heart—led her to say, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that one comes, he will declare all things to us.”
Aha. Jesus prodded her to something new, something bigger than her “where do we worship?” question.
Then, Jesus said, “I who speak to you am he.”
Wow. All because Jesus found the heart of the matter. For Jesus, the “where to worship” argument was “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” And within minutes, a heart was changed.
It’s a good lesson for us. Let’s seek the wisdom to lovingly say, “Not my circus, not my monkeys” to some of the questions we are asked—and seek the heart of the matter. For someone searching for true answers, it can make all the difference in the world.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
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