...Where could one such as her ever worship? She wants to know. Truly. Jesus is the only learned Jew she has ever felt safe to ask. And in response, Jesus treats her like a serious and worthy theologian. As he honors her capacity for understanding, he elevates her and all women along with her. He drops the most significant teaching on worship in all of scripture on her alone, there at the well. The entire, sweeping theme of the New Testament and covenant, and the implications of everything else he does and says, he lays out plainly for her. He doesn't shroud it in parable. He can see she's ready for the fullness of light to shine. He tells her that worship is ultimately without ritual or rite. That it is found in spirit and truth at the very core of a person. That, whether in Jerusalem or at Gerizim, such temples are already obsolete. This means that people are the very temple of God. And this suggests to her she has as much access to God as some self-important high priest who loathes her. And she always has.
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When I hear Christians rail about the differences between "Allah" and "Yahweh," I have to wonder: When did this become the kind of question you can answer with two columns of verses chosen from different books? And when did it stop being the kind of question that can only be answered in the deepest recesses of a human heart?
The real thing to realize here is that making Jesus exclusive in the way a lot of us do does not make him greater. It makes him smaller. A tiny God for a privileged few... Essentially, if you ignore the inclusiveness Jesus models - beyond any religious or non-religious affiliation - how can you be honoring him? You are "holding the line" in a battle you were never asked to wage. You are fighting over national borders while claiming to serve the King of the Universe. And when people trumpet John 14:6 to say "no one comes to the Father except through the Son," they are missing a crucial detail... It's Jesus' call. Which means... It's. Not. Yours.
Despite the cliché not making it any easier for many in our society and generation to swallow Christianity, people continue to feel that speaking it covers them somehow, or that it means something substantive simply because they hope it does.
Who are we kidding?
I mean, do "religion" and "relationship" have to be so mutually exclusive? Do you have to pick one over the other? Can you not have both? Can you not be in "relationship" with God and have that inform what "religion" is and looks like for you?