The Social Gospel According to the Woman at the Well

A year ago, I was able to travel with a couple of colleagues to Flint, Michigan to distribute water in response to the water crisis. I never realized the necessity of water until educating myself about the crisis. The residents of Flint were only allotted one case of water per person every day at the water distribution area at the fire station. Unfortunately, one case of water was not enough for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning the house. From talking to some of the residents, going to the water distribution areas became a daily routine. These individuals would visit the fire station for the same reason: to receive water. This situation reminded me of a familiar story in John 4 about the Samaritan woman.

As we have noticed, the Samaritan woman was drawing from the well during the hottest time of the day. Women normally collected water around dawn and dusk when it was much cooler. Because the Samaritan woman had a reputation, she didn’t want to be ridiculed by the women in her neighborhood whenever she drew from the well. She didn’t want to be greeted by fake smiles and overhear the other women gossiping about her.

Thus, the Samaritan woman risked her comfort by drawing from the well during the hottest time of the day. I can only imagine how she must have felt walking from her home with her water jar and having to draw from the well in the unbearable heat. She was undoubtedly hot and bothered as the result of being marginalized by the society she was living in. Nobody was able to understand her painful past or even took the time to have a conversation with her.

All of us today have an experience of feeling hot and bothered by the world we live in. Some of us are treated poorly by others who think we don’t deserve to draw from the same well. We all have an unquenchable thirst for justice, acceptance, and equality. Nobody wants to be treated like second class citizens.

The Samaritan woman could relate to this feeling which is why she was stunned when a Jew named Jesus asked her for some water, and in return introduced the Living Water to her. It was that encounter that made a great difference in the Samaritan woman’s life. She realized that she had been drawing from the wrong things in her life when she met Jesus. After her encounter with Jesus, her thirst for acceptance was quenched and she had to share with others. She was able to draw many people to Jesus in spite of her past. By doing so, she became a walking oasis to her community.

God has called us, the Church, to be oases in a world that is hot and bothered with the injustices happening around us. The prophetic mandate in Isaiah 61:1-2 tells us that we are called to provide a safe haven for those who are marginalized, disenfranchised, and persecuted.

Now is the time to stop using prophecy as an excuse for not advocating for those who are silent. We are called to speak on behalf of those who are unable to speak for themselves. We should be open to participating in marches and community dialogues. We should also be able to educate ourselves with issues that impact our local communities such as immigration, food deserts, education, police brutality, healthcare, domestic violence, etc.

We must never underestimate the power of presence in times of crisis. We may not know the full context of the biography of the woman at the well, but what we can learn from this story is our responsibility for being a church that is open to everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or life experiences.

Darnisha Thomas is serving as the pastor for Student Ministries and Volunteer Engagement at New Hope Adventist Church in Fulton, Maryland. She also blogs on where she frequently discusses practical theology and life with a touch of pink.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Darnisha’s article serves as a reminder of what we need to be regardless of gender, class, or ethnicity in our Christian journey. I identify with the woman at the well for many reasons. First she left the water pot. Forgetting things and forgetting where I put certain items is happening more often. There is a change of heart and a change of purpose here. Leaving the water pot signaled a change in priorities. Are we willing to change our purpose when God asks us to? Does she hand out a great theological explanation? No. She testifies to what Jesus has done for her So many times our emphasis has been about our need to cover the “28” beliefs rather than sharing our story of our experience with Jesus. Perhaps the reason some of us are so poor at evangelism is that Jesus has never been given the room to do anything for us.Indeed, if you think not, consider the contrast between Nicodemus and this woman. The teacher of the Law comes by night, becomes a secret disciple and tells no one. The sinner tells everyone she can. Even more telling is this: this sinner asks about doctrine. She cares for the things of God; she wants to know the truth. By comparison, some of us should blush with shame. There are many lessons as Darnisha has pointed out in this biblical story. Thank you for reminding us!


One thing I get from the story is that Jesus did not restrict the benefits of his goodness and grace to people of his own tribe, race, or religion. As I understand it, Samaritans were considered by the Jews to be heretics at best, heathen at worst, much as many Christians regard Muslims. Isn’t there a lesson here for our present day? Don


Yep. Elsewhere I questioned why Sabbath yesterday was business as usual, in light of the events that unfolded in Charlottesville, VA. Until we as a church can speak a prophetic voice of truth to power, we will be a hollow shell of the church we should be. If I were a preach, yesterday, I might have dropped the notes I prepared earlier in the week and picked up the Bible and opened it to, say, Isaiah 1:16-17.

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,

17 learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

If there was ever a time that the SDA needed to be a prophetic voice, it is today.


Notice that a person has to stop taking time to do bad things before they do good things.

“cease to do evil”?

Don’t almost all SDA including Spectrum posters strongly embrace the position that we can’t cease to do evil?
Just think of the stigma associated with the LGT crowd.

I asked in a large Sabbath school class this past Sabbath, by a show of hands, who thinks that humans can stop sinning before they die or the 2nd coming…4 hands out of 50 attendees.

You see…evidently the creator of the universe, omnipotent , almighty God can’t even, with the cross, resurrection, gospel and grace, get SDA, people of the book, a royal priesthood, and the remnant, to stop sinning.

Hmmm, anyone got a clue as to why SDA are labelled lukewarm Laodiceans?

Well some walk pigeon-toed…some walk bow legged, some walk with a limp…some even skip.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 JN 1:7

Not as popular a verse as the one 2 verses later which most lip service believers use.

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Have mercy. Don’t throw me in with that crowd. The relationship between our walk with God and our relationship with the community has NOTHING to do with sin and perfection but with the walk. The walk is all that matters.

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:7-8