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R&V In the Word: A Mirror for the World

Image: Inga Gezalian

Read John 4:1-42 MSG

The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.

John 4:28-30 MSG

When I first started dating my now-husband, Brandon, it was the first time I connected with a boyfriend in a spiritual way since I became a follower of Jesus. Upon sharing my faith with Brandon, a whole other part of me unlocked and opened up. Brandon saw me fully in ways that no one else had yet seen me, so much so that he seemed to see things in me I wasn’t even aware of yet—potential, possibility, a future larger than what I could even dream of for myself.

In the last 20 years, Brandon has continued to see more of me than anyone else, a blessing and a curse of the “largeness of marriage,” as Eugene Peterson translates Jesus’ words in Matthew 12. He’s seen who I am at my core, my strengths at my strongest and my weaknesses at my weakest. He has seen me and he has known me.

Marriage is often used in Scripture to illustrate the intimacy and relational love that is possible between God and his people. This mystical connection between partners is but a glimmer of the same depths of knowing that are possible between us and God. The journey of knowing God more fully will last a lifetime, just as daily I feel I am able to see the depths of complexity and beauty in my husband more fully, ever surprised and delighted by the gift of his vulnerability.

I think our heart’s desire is to be known by someone else, to be seen for who we are, truly, and loved in spite of our mistakes and our broken parts. That is what Jesus does for the woman at the well in John 4. It is what compels her to become the first missionary to a community, declaring for all of the world to hear that there’s someone who knows everything she’s done and still cared for her, still extended the Living Water of eternal life to her. Her whole community already knew everything she’d ever done and discarded her, likely mocked her loose relationships and lax morals, or avoided her entirely. And yet here was Jesus, pulling back the veil on her life and reminding her that she was made in the image of a loving and generous God.

Perhaps that is what Jesus meant by “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Perhaps he meant that we’re supposed to find the image of God inside us and then hold up a mirror to the rest of the world so that they, too, can see the image of God inside of them.

God already fully knows us, but are we able to see ourselves the way God sees us? The woman at the well caught a glimpse so compelling she told her whole community about the God who saw her. Do we carry the same mirror? Do we shine the same light? If not, is it possible we just haven’t allowed God to pull back the veil so that we can see that goodness, that beauty, that light?

Points of Reflection

  1. What are the broken pieces, faults, failures, and weaknesses that you feel are keeping you from experiencing the love of God?
  2. Who is the person in your life who knows the most about you—the best and worst parts—and still loves you anyway? How much more does God, who knows your heart entirely, love you?

For the Kids

  1. Why do you think the woman at the well was so amazed that Jesus knew so much about her?
  2. What do you think it means for Jesus to be the source of Living Water?


In the hurried pace of day-to-day life, running to and from the well to get water, grocery shopping, working, and hustling to make ends meet, there’s not always time to consider those intimate spaces in your heart that define who you are at your core. Take a few minutes for yourself this week to journal about what defines you—not the things you do, but the character traits that make you who you are. These beautiful traits of yours were planted in you from the beginning and have been cultivated throughout your life. What traits are lying dormant and in need of tending? What traits are weeds that need to be pulled?


There are many tools out there for self-reflection that can help us to see ourselves and know ourselves better, which can ultimately help us love ourselves and our neighbors better. One that has gotten popular in Christian circles in the last decade or more is called the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. My pastor, Nate Bebout, wrote a book on the Enneagram and developed a test that helps you to see many facets of what drives your choices and impulses on a daily basis. His book, More than a Number: How the Enneagram Reveals Your Unique Lens and Essential Place in The World and his assessment can be found at

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