28 The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus.
39 Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of his word, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.”
This week we are focusing on Jesus’ interactions with people who are marginalized.
At the well in Samaria Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman. Then she went away and told other Samaritans about the Messiah. Perhaps this was one of the first examples of a woman preaching about Jesus. This was surprising because she was a woman, and a scorned one at that. But did you notice how it was announced, “We no longer believe because of what you said….”? Maybe the woman’s friends and family wouldn’t believe until they heard about salvation from a man!
Yet Jesus speaking to this woman was particularly questioned and questionable because she was also a Samaritan. The Samaritans and the Jews did not get along. The Samaritans were criticized by the Jews for worshiping at a shrine on Mount Gerizim, instead of in Jerusalem. Earlier in John 4, Jesus announced that “neither will you worship on this mountain or in Jerusalem.” (See Part 1 devotional from yesterday.) Jesus was saying that it does not matter where you worship, as long as you “worship in spirit and truth.”
So one particular disagreement with the Samaritans is over religion. Perhaps there is no greater discounting of one another, than the way people distrust and discount others who believe differently! Consider today’s arguments over faith and the levels of distrust and hatred present in those debates. When I am honest, I know that there are people I too have discounted because their beliefs are different from mine.
But God doesn’t simply accept others who believe differently than me. Jesus’ message goes much further than just accepting others in the face of differences! Instead, it is about loving others. We must see the other people we dislike or distrust as lovable. We must treat “others” as Jesus treated the Samaritans: as people we will stay with, talk to and eat with.
In his sermon last week, Pastor Joe talked about this kind of love, which goes far beyond just tolerance or even acceptance. (See his sermon from August 21st). We must be in community with ALL others. We don’t just tolerate their beliefs, but we learn to love others — whatever their beliefs — all along the way.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
What is a group that you find yourself distrusting/disliking for their beliefs? How might this be marginalizing to any of God’s people? What would it take on your part to really love someone or the others from this group?
Prayer: Merciful God, weave our hearts and minds together. Let us learn to trust and love all of your children as you have called us. Help us to love like Jesus for all whom we meet. Amen.
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