The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” John 4:19-21
There is an axiom in business, “don’t reinvent the wheel”. It means we need to learn some things from those who came before us so we don’t squander our resources solving problems that have already been solved. Of course, we also have a countervailing axiom that we deride as the nadir of imagination and progress, “we’ve always done it that way.”
Knowing when to accept the “received wisdom” and when to cast aside old inefficiency can be a tough call. In our text for today, Jesus is addressing the Samaritan Woman at the Well, who asks Him about a then-current conflict, where to worship. The Samaritan fathers said it had to be on Mount Gerizim and the Jewish fathers held for Jerusalem as the only appropriate place. Jesus’ answer is really, “neither”.
An important clue for us in this text is that both the Samaritan Woman and Jesus refer to “father” as their authority. (Even in the Greek Bible it is just a different grammatical form of the same word, “father”.) But the two references are talking about two very different fathers.
We also have to deal with conflicting advice, just like whether to “reinvent the wheel” or do things “the way we have always done them”. But one lesson we can take away from Jesus’ exchange with the Samaritan Woman is that we should never confuse our fathers with God. His ideas supersede our conflicted human advice. He has a better way. He has the only way.
When you have to make hard decisions, including who in your life to listen to, be sure to seek the counsel of God Almighty. He may have a plan and a word for you that obviates the whole complex issue. In fact, it is probably a good idea to seek Him first, then you can avoid the whole dilemma and get straight on to following Him in spirit and in truth.