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Wesley Bible: A Study Guide

Journey of Faith: Session 7

By Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D.

"Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together But when I look up the white road There is always another one walking beside you"  ~T.S. Eliot in his "The Waste Land."

The journey of the Samaritan woman
John 4: 1-42
Lectio Divina, divine reading, 

  • Take a bite. Lift up in your heart the moments when you recognized the true identity of Jesus in your life.  
  • Stay with the words that are associated with Jesus' revelation of himself to the Samaritan woman. These may be words that speak the truth about the Holy Spirit who opens up places of understanding in our hearts and minds.   
  • Savor the essence of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Talk with God asking the Holy Spirit to open up a conversation with you or deepen God's conversation with you   
  • When the Word of God becomes part of you, pray how you can witness to what God has done for you. Remember it is not to "convert" others, but to witness to God's love. The result comes through the Holy Spirit.  

What do you see in this story?
What is happening?
What do you know about the Samaritan woman?
What is the reaction of the disciples?
What are some of the tensions that you see in the story? 

In your opinion, what are some of the extreme emotions that go through the minds of the Samaritan woman? Amazement, shock, conviction, disowning, assuring, anger, set up, fear….?
Have you been in a place in your life when you felt like an outcast? Have you come across persons who have felt that way? 

How does Jesus reach the Samaritan woman across the boundaries?
Does noticing the wounds of others matter? Why? Why not?
Do the perspectives of other person matter? Why? Why not?
What are some of the different perspectives that you come across in this story?
Does a person's sense of worth affect one's spirituality? Why? Why not?
Who are the Samaritan women of today? 
What are some of the oppressive forces that continue to create outcasts in today's world? 

Does the Samaritan woman come to terms with her past? Why? Why not? 
Even when her society and culture has imposed a destination for the rest of the journey in her life, the Samaritan woman's journey has a new origin and a new goal now. How does Jesus help her move toward a new life? 
How does she invent a new future?

The Samaritan woman became the first female evangelist. What are some of the risks that she takes in order to be a spontaneous witness to Jesus? 
Have you ever experienced moments in your life when you said to yourself, "My life should be devoted to things bigger than myself?" 
It is time to cross-over and build bridges with the outcasts in our midst. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Wesleyan Life Application: Care for the Outcast
…Somewhere in the court of the outcasts, Jesus is always waiting (page 1291).
Outcasts of Today:
The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children defines human trafficking as "The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms, of coercion, of abduction, of frauds, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation." 
The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000) defines "severe forms of trafficking" as: (a) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; (b) or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."  A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another in order for the crime to fall within these definitions. 
Most of the victims of human trafficking come from poverty-stricken homes. They are sold by parents or spouses looking for money, and are forced into slave labor or prostitution. Their passports are confiscated, and they have nowhere to go to. Since they often do not know the local language, they are not able to communicate their victimhood. 
The UN estimates that human trafficking is a $9.5 billion industry. International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor, and commercial sex exploitation. ILO estimates that at least 1.39 million victims are in commercial sex exploitation. ILO also says that 56% of all forced labor victims are women and girls. 
Wesleyan Life Application: Loving God
Love is such an easy word to say and such a hard thing to do. Ultimately love shows itself not by declarations of affection but by the service we render to the one we profess to love, especially service that inconveniences us or that calls for sacrifice. What is true in expressions of human love is equally true of our love for God. Jesus put the matter quite simply: If we love him, we will keep his commandments (John 14:15). This is the kind of practical Christianity that characterizes the Wesleyan tradition at its best. (page 1310). 

Our being as a response to God's love:  
Prophet Isaiah lifts up a list of things for a faith community in Isaiah 1: 16-17. "Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." John Wesley uses this advice several times in his sermon. In fact, the General Rules of the United Societies included the following three demands for a Christian living: 

"Do no harm.
Do good.
Attend upon all the ordinances of God." 

In the last General Conference in 2008, the three Wesleyan justice demands presented were adapted to a more modern use of language:
"Do no harm.
Do good.
Stay in love with God."

O God who cares for the outcast, and invites us to be in love with you by serving the least of these, give us courage, show us ways to amplify the cries of those who cannot speak out, and stand in solidarity with those who cannot defend themselves.

In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. 

Click HereJourney of Faith: Session 8


This Bible study was also published by United Methodist Publishing house; a print-friendly PDF can be downloaded from their site.

Last Updated: 03/17/2014

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