Friday, Jan. 26, 2007 Time Magazine, “A Shoe That Fits So Many Souls” by Nadia Mustafa. Blake MyCOSkie wanted to get away from it all. After founding and running four businesses all before he turned 30 years old and losing by a sliver on the 2 nd season of the reality TV show The Amazing Race, he escaped a year ago to Argentina, where he learned to sail, dance the tango and play competitive polo. He also visited impoverished villages where few, if any, children had shoes. “I was sitting in a field on a farm one day, and I had an epiphany,” says MyCOSkie, who had taken to wearing the resilient, lightweight slip–on shoes traditionally worn by Argentine workers. “I said, I’m going to start a shoe company, and for every pair I sell, I’m going to give one pair to a kid in need.”
He spent the next two months meeting with shoe and fabric makers in Argentina and named his self–financed company Toms: Shoes for Tomorrow. He modeled his product after the simple shoes traditionally worn by Argentine workers, but used brighter colors and different materials. “I’m a fan of Vans,” he says, but they can be clunky and sweaty. These aren’t. They fit your foot like a glove but are sturdy enough for a hike, the beach or the city.”
A 30 year old Texan who likes to read biographies, MyCOSkie had never worked in fashion. But with a hired staff of seven full–time employees, six sales reps and eight interns, he debuted a collection last June of 15 styles for men and women as well as limited–edition artist versions. They quickly found their way into stores like American Rag and Fred Segal in Los Angeles, where Toms is based, and Scoop in New York City. By the fall he had sold 10,000 pairs, averaging $38 each, online and in 40 stores. And, as promised, he returned to Argentina in October with a couple of dozen volunteers to give away 10,000 pairs of Toms along 2000 miles of countryside. “I always thought I’d spend the first half of my life making money and the second half giving it away,” says MyCOSkie, who doesn’t call himself the CEO of his company, but the chief shoe giver. “I never thought I could do both at the same time. Lots of companies give a percentage of their revenue to charity, but we can’t find anyone who matches one for one.” Toms already has orders from 300 stores, including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Bloomingdale’s, for 41,000 pairs from its spring and summer collections, and it will be entering Australia, Japan, Canada, Spain and France this summer. The company will introduce a line of children’s shoes called Tiny Toms in May and will unveil a pair of leather shoes in the fall.
MyCOSkie is also planning a second shoe drop in Argentina later this year, with more to follow in Africa and Asia. He says 240 customers have told him they would even pay to volunteer on his shoe drops, so next year he’s hoping to launch a company offering $2,000 vacations consisting of two days of sightseeing and four days of volunteering. “All these other businesses and deals have been preparing me for this,” he says. “I believe Toms is going to give away millions of shoes one day.” The boxes on his shoes say “Your purchase today guarantees a child shoes for tomorrow. So make more than a fashion statement.”
Jesus chose to travel through Samaria
I think Jesus would’ve like Toms shoes don’t you? Not just because they sound better than sandals, but because He liked to give things away too. Turn with me in your Bibles to the Gospel of John chapter 4. Verse 4 says in the NIV that Jesus had to go through Samaria. Which isn’t exactly what it means. Because lots of Jews took the longer route around it. Jesus didn’t have to travel through Samaria, He chose to travel through Samaria. Stopping in the village of Sychar. Which was extremely unusual. Because long story short: Samaritans and Jews didn’t get along. In fact, they didn’t even speak to each other. The Samaritans claimed to date back to the Old Testament priest Eli and the old place of worship in Shiloh arguing that they were right and the Jews were wrong for building the temple in Jerusalem. By contrast, the Jews said that Samaritans were the result of intermarriage between Mesopotamians and Jews resulting in an ethnic mix. But whatever their origins, by the first century, not altogether unlike the 21 st century, the primary difference of opinion between believers was over worship. Why is it that where and how we worship often becomes more important to us than who we worship? Anyways, the Samaritans said the proper place was on Mount Gerizim. And the Jews said the proper place was in Jerusalem.
Well, about a mile outside of Sychar was the well of Jacob. It was dug thousands of years earlier by the early Jewish patriarch Jacob and given to his son Joseph. Jesus stopped by the well at noon and started a conversation on his lunch hour with a Samaritan woman drawing water. Which most Jews would have considered outrageous on two counts. One, because He was talking to a Samaritan. And two, because He was talking to a woman. Sorry ladies, but in Bible days, many rabbis didn’t talk to any women, Jewish or not, outside their immediate family much less the kinds of women who drew their water in the heat of the day! When no one else would be around. So while His disciples are at Subway buying lunch, Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water. You remember the story right? John 4:9-12 [NIV]. She responded, “9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” ‘11Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’”
Jesus answered in John 4:13-20 [NIV]. “‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ 15The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’ 16He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back..’ ‘17I have no husband,’ she replied. Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. 18The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’ ‘19Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’”
Jesus acknowledged the fact that Samaritans had set up their own place of worship on Mount Gerizim instead of on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, but then, He announced that how and where one worshiped isn’t nearly as important as Who one worshiped. He told her, “A time is coming when you won’t worship God here on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you don’t know; we Jews worship what we do know, because the Scriptures teach that salvation is from the Jews. But let me tell you something. Starting now, true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth. That’s the kind of worshiper the Father is looking for.
Like many of us today, myself included, the woman didn’t fully understand what He meant. Yet at least she was receptive to Jesus. And that at first is enough. We don’t to have totally understand everything Jesus means. But that which we do understand, we need to be receptive. So she said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, and when He arrives he will explain everything to us.” But even though she was receptive, she was totally unprepared for Jesus’ next statement. He said, “That’s who I am! You’re talking to Him! I’m the Messiah!”
While she was standing there, in shock and awe, the disciples return from town. When they arrive, they are surprised to see Jesus talking to a woman. But they restrained themselves. And keep their mouths shut. Snapping out of her coma, obviously flustered by the group of strangers and the claim of Jesus to be the Messiah, the woman forgets her water jar and hurries back to town. But when she arrives, SHE can’t keep her mouth shut. She starts telling everyone who would listen, “You’re never going to believe this! You’ve got to see it for yourself! I just met a man who told me everything I ever did. I think He’s the Messiah!” And that’s what happens to people receptive to Jesus. They get excited because they begin to see themselves the way God sees them. As His precious sons and daughters. As a child of the king.
My daughter Lydia loves it when I read her these wonderful picture books called Gigi: God’s Little Princess and Gigi: The Royal Tea Party. Sheila Walsh tells the stories of a little girl who finally realizes that Jesus is the King of the Universe. Which makes her a PrinCESS of the Universe. Which is so overwhelming and exciting to her that she wants to tell all her neighbors and friends. Which she does very carefully, during royal tea parties, so they won’t faint when they realize how special they really are. And in the 2 nd book, of course, one of her friends does faint. Which is the funniest part. Which Lydia and I usually have to read more than once.
She realized Jesus is the Messiah
But it’s true. And that’s what happened to this Samaritan woman at the well. She finally realized that Jesus is the Messiah King of the Universe. Which made her a Princess, not a prostitute. Or whatever she was before. And when you begin to see yourself the way God sees you, you begin to see everyone else that way too. Even when they worship differently. Or on another day. Things that divide us divide us no more. Labels like liberal and conservative become irrelevant. People become more important than positions. Relationships become as significant as being right. And those around us begin to feel genuinely loved. The Samaritan woman obviously conveyed these truths well. Because the Bible says in John 4:39–40 that eventually, many of the Samaritans in that town believed and urged the King of the Universe to stay in their village longer than just two days.
But the disciples are still wondering: “Why are you talking with Her? Don’t you know who she is? What does she want?” But instead of asking Jesus what they were really thinking, they settle for this extremely deep theological question: “You still hungry?” Did you catch the irony? Here’s Jesus in an eternally significant conversation with a receptive child of God and all they care about is a footlong sub with veggies and cheese? How crazy is that? The disciples hadn’t learned that food can wait, but Heaven cannot. And besides, Jesus wasn’t fueled by sandwiches. He was fueled by knowing the Father. According to Luke 2:49, since the time Jesus was twelve years old, Jesus got His spiritual fuel from knowing and going about His father’s business. So Jesus declined the food telling them in John 4:32, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” Which HAD to mess with their heads even more right? I mean Jesus sends them into town to buy lunch, so they do, but when they return, He says He already ate! And then, which boggles their minds even more, the Lord of the Harvest adds these strange words that I want to zero in on today. “My food is to do the will of God who sent me and to finish His work.” My food is to do the will of God who sent me and to finish His work.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love food. Especially Indian food. I got addicted to Indian food growing up in Maryland where there are tons of Indians. Later in college at Andrews, I knew exactly which weekend the Adventist Indian church had their potluck so I could crash it and stay for lunch. And in a couple weeks, on January 17 in the evening, I understand we’re going to be hosting an Ordinary Outreach event called the International Food Fair. So bring your friends and neighbors out for that. They love food too don’t they? And maybe if we’re lucky, there will be some Indian food there too! It’s gonna be great! And by the way, the early church loved food too. Did you know that? Have you ever noticed how often the church gathered to eat? Matthew 11:19 [NIV] says, “19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” Acts 1:3-5 adds “3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait...for in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:42 [NIV] adds, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
It seems like if there was a meeting, they were eating. It’s a good thing they all got plenty of exercise walking miles and miles from town to town or they would have all probably gotten really fat! But notice, the food that gave Jesus the most strength wasn’t Indian. As hard as it for me to believe. The food that gave Jesus the most strength was going about His Father’s business.
God sent His Son to save us
So the logical question becomes: What is His Father’s business? Well, that’s a big question with ramifications we don’t have time to answer. But one of the most obvious answers making part of this question easy to identify is found in John 3:16-20. Let’s read that together in unison off the screen. You ready? Is it up there? John 3:16-20 says, “16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
What do you make of that? Is it just some bumper sticker? Some sign that, guaranteed, some Christian in the end zone will be holding up during the Super Bowl? I think its much more than that! Ellen White said that if we got rid of every verse in the Bible, we’d all be okay if we just had that one verse. Why would she say that? Because, for one reason, this verse reveals the will of our heavenly Father! Namely, that He’s dying to know you!
I think we’ve always known Jesus felt that way about us. Or He would’ve never gone through with the cross. But newsflash: Our Heavenly Father feels the same way! And if you think about it, He actually took the harder job! Now I’m not saying dying on the cross was some small thing. Far from it. It was by far the most barbaric thing that a human could do to another human. There was a reason Romans hung criminals at crossroads so the traffic passing by could see it. Crucifixion was meant to be a deterrent. But you know what’s harder than dying on the cross? Watching someone you love like crazy dying on the cross! Having the omnipotent power to stop it and choosing not to. Jesus wasn’t the only one dying on the cross. The Father was dying too. Because according to John 3:16, it was our heavenly Father who so loved the world.
How many of you parents wouldn’t trade places with your child in heartbeat if you could spare them some surgery or procedure or painful experience? I remember when Joshua had to get some shots and vaccinations. I had to hold him down and stuff. Have mercy what a nightmare! I hate needles too, but that day, I longed to take those shots for him. And THAT’s how God the Father felt about Jesus! He loved Jesus. But you know who He so loved even more? You! And me. And all the other children created in His image. By allowing Jesus to die on the cross, the heavenly Father chose the harder job! He allowed, sent, and watched His Son die the most barbaric death then known to man. He could’ve stopped it. He loved His Son. But He so loved the world even more. So that we that believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life!
He wants us to have eternal life
THIS my friends, is the will of our heavenly Father. To save a lost and dying world full of the children He treasures and misses most. And this was obviously the will of Jesus. Or He would’ve never gone through with it. And while I’m at it, for the sake of the Trinity, let me tell you that Scripture reveals that this is also the will of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26–27 [NIV] says, “26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
So let’s not pretend that we don’t know any of God’s will. We may not know it all, but that’s okay. Because if we knew it all, we wouldn’t need God right? So part of God’s will for us is not knowing all of God’s will. Which installs in us a holy discontent. Forcing us to need Him. Teaching us to depend on Him. Just like Jesus depended on His Father. Listen to how Jesus finished His prayer in John 17:25–26. “25Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
“My food”, Jesus said, “Is to do the will of the Father.” And the will of the Father is to save the whole world. He cares more about lost people than lunch. Even a good spicy curry. When Jesus looks all around the world, He doesn’t see prostitutes and tax collectors and gluttons and thieves. He doesn’t see Samaritans and Jews. Catholics and Protestants. He doesn’t see mechanics and day care providers. Those who like to worship at eleven o clock or those who prefer five. He sees children of the Heavenly Father. Bought with a price. He sees people who are ready to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Willing as Mark 8:35 says, to even lose their very lives for Jesus and the sake of the Gospel. He sees people who would faithfully follow Him to the very ends of the earth. Not just in Jerusalem. Samaria. And Sychar. But in Bangkok. Tokyo. And Toledo. And as His heirs to the throne, we are only beginning to see and understand what the Lord of the Harvest has in mind.
The harvest is ripe
Look at John 4:35 [NIV]. “35Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Now I know that doesn’t make sense to many of us. It didn’t make sense to the disciples either. But that’s what Jesus said! He goes on to explain some stuff about sowing and reaping which we’ll get into in the weeks ahead. But for now, let’s not miss Jesus’ main point! There is a harvest. And it is already ripe! Even though we haven’t done a thing!
I think this is especially significant because Jesus said this to the disciples before the Samaritan woman even had much of a chance to tell anyone about Him. She hadn’t planted any seeds. Even heard of Kindness 2 Go bags. Given away any gasoline. Rehabbed any home. Mailed any brochures. Or extended any extra ordinary invitations. But confounding all logic and farming techniques known to man, Jesus told the disciples that the harvest is already ripe anyway! Why? Because He knew the Father was still at work in the world! Including ours. Including yours. There are people all around us who don’t know Jesus. But would like to. They might be sick of religion, but they’re hungry for Christ! They may have heard about Jesus, but they don’t know the difference He makes in their life. And some of those kind of people may even be inside this church. I know this is true, because I used to be one of them.
But as I told you last time, when I shared my story with you, Jesus rekindled in me a relationship with Him. And an enthusiasm for a life worth living. The devil is wrong. Christianity is not a bore. It’s a roller coaster worth the ride! If He can do that for me, He can do that for you! And if you come to our third service starting Wednesday March 7 right here at 7PM, I’m going to go into more detail about how that happened. We’re gonna sing a little, I’m gonna preach a little, but we’ll get you home in time for the 2 nd half of American Idol. If you’d like to help me out with the music or child care or whatever, please let me know or drop me an email. I’m gonna need some help. We’ve got 4 weeks to pull this thing together. Maybe by next week I can get you a postcard or a little flyer to share with your family and friends. So you’ll be hearing more about 3 rd service. But for now, Jesus said it’s enough to just open our eyes and look at the fields all around us. And believe what He said is true. In Matthew 16:18, He said, “18I will build my church.” One person at a time. One Samaritan. One Jew. One man. One woman. One child. Wherever two or three are gathered. In the heat of the day. Or the dead of the night. With or without our help. The harvest is already ripe.
He’s not giving away tennis shoes! He’s giving away eternal life! To everyone who knows and grows closer to Him. John 17:3 [NIV] says it this way. “3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Let's be about our Father's business
So let me ask you my new church family. Is Jesus enough for you? Is He what you really want? If it is, I invite you to stand up and as we get ready to sing our closing song, I invite you to walk forward and pick up one of these silly little Kindness 2 Go bags and take it back to your seat. Don’t put it in your kitchen or on some shelf at home. Bring it with you wherever you go this next week. Take it inside the restaurant when you go out to eat. Read and pray over the Scriptures inside that bag. Ask God to send someone into your sphere of influence that you can simply encourage no strings attached. Remind them that they are royalty. Sons and daughters of the King of the Universe. Heirs to the throne and precious in His sight. You can even take my name in vain if you want! I don’t care. I have no commandments about that! Tell them your pastor wants you to give these away for Jesus’ sake. It doesn’t matter. Together this next week, we will be about our Father’s business. THIS is what a church should want—Jesus to build it.
Our Heavenly Father, Thank you for showing us what you’re really like by sending us Your Son. Help us to open our eyes and choose to see ourselves the way you already see us. And thank you for staying so active in this world. Including ours. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.