Men’s speaker looks for common goals

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 23, 2004

Dr. Tony Evans sought spirit, truth and common ground among those at Friday’s leadership breakfast. If the applause was any indication, he found it.

Evans, senior pastor at Cliff Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas and a speaker at this weekend’s Men’s Conference, spoke to a crowded Carl C. Morgan Convention Center Friday morning. Evans, who is also the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys, based his speech on a story from the book of John.

According to Evans, Jesus gave people the example for finding common ground on a trip, which took him through Samaria. While his disciples went to gather food, Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

Evans said the conversation they had was important because it showed that Jesus found common ground between two peoples instead of their differences. Jews and Samaritans disliked each other, and Jews would never willingly pass through Samaria. Jesus, though, traveled through the city and asked the woman at the well for a drink – a social faux pas.

“Jesus didn’t stop being who he was to help someone,” Evans said. “He’s just saying, ‘Whatever you are, don’t let it get in the way of doing the will of God.”

Jesus’ used sociology to begin talking about theology, Evans said. The Bible states that Jesus told the woman that, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Drinking from a Samaritan’s cup found common ground between two races, and Evans said people needed to follow that example today. Referencing the book of Revelations, Evans noted that John saw all races in heaven. To refer to someone as a “black Christian” or a “white Christian,” though, would be incorrect. “Christianity must be the adjective,” he said. “Your Christianity must define your culture.”

Evans used a verse from the book of Galatians to drive his point home. Peter was eating with Gentiles until fellow Jews saw him. To accommodate his friends’ prejudices, Peter backed away from the table as did his associates. “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews,” Evans said. “They were good enough to eat with until members of his own race showed up.”

Paul, however, condemned Peter for his actions, saying that Peter had a new identity because of his affiliation with Jesus. “Paul had a standard that he operated by,” Evans said. “Paul’s argument was that this is about truth. There are differences between people, but they should never get into the way of spirit and truth.”

Jumping back to the story about the woman at the well, Jesus told his disciples upon their return that he didn’t need their food since he had food to eat they didn’t know about. “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest,” Jesus said.

And the disciples looked up and saw the woman bringing a group to hear Jesus’ word. “It didn’t take years to find that common ground,” Evans said. “It took hours.”