Mike S. Adams wrote an intriguing book titled “Letters to a Young Progressive.” One of the chapters is titled “The Law of the Outliers.” If I understand him correctly, he is saying that outliers are those who are outside the mainstream of society that want us to bend to their way of thinking and behaving. How are we to respond in a multi-cultural society when it seeks to undermine biblical principles? Basically, we can only respond in Christ’s love and by showing them through practical and biblical means that God has standards that are righteous and he will hold us accountable to those standards either here or in eternity.
In John 4 Jesus meets an “outlier” or a “Five Time Loser.” She is not seeking for others to change to accept her ways, but she teaches us what it must be like to be the “Scarlet Woman” in society. We can learn some valuable lessons in what he does and how it turns out. and thus gives us a challenge.
John interweaves dialogue with theology using Jesus’ words and pictures of water. Ch 2: water is turned into wine. Ch 3: man must be born of water and spirit. Ch 4: water is seen as both refreshing and life giving. Into this John retells Jesus’ encounter with the “five-time loser” woman who is castigated and imprisoned from society much like Hawthorne’s scarlet lettered woman. She is the “outlier” or “outsider.” In chapter 2 John introduces us to Nicodemus, accepted as the teacher in Israel, outwardly pure but inwardly unrighteous. Jesus opened his eyes to see his spiritual need and he left still wondering. Chapter 4 offers a contrast and a glimpse into what society rejects: the outsider, the unclean, the women of ill repute defiled by Mosaic Law. These are our today’s street people, the homeless, and the addict. What are we to do with these? Houston, TX vote showed us one way to respond: reject that which is unbiblical. But also there are states now that say marijuana should be accepted. Really? Is that Jesus did?
This woman who has been married five times and now is “shacking up but is unmarried” is what I call the “five-time loser.” She has learned how to move and live in a world in which she is unacceptable. Into this, Jesus steps as a pilgrim weary and thirsty to reveal her spiritual need and He as Messiah. She says “give me” and this what he world asks without considering the long time ramifications. Yet Jesus will offer her something greater: a life-giving transformation if she is willing to take and drink. Jesus met her where she lived and moved and that is what we as disciples are to do even if it means on a street corner, or at a coffee shop or a well. The need is the same: all need living water and Jesus is the giver of it. We must meet their spiritual need.
The end result? As the scarlet woman’s heart is opened we see her go and tell others to “come and see.” Do we do the same? From the lips of the townspeople: “They said to the woman, “No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world.”
Who is the outsider in your world that needs the life-giving drink from the fountain of life: Jesus the Messiah?