Sometimes I never know what I am going to write about. I pray about it and then God shows me. This is one of those times. Yesterday our minister shared the story of the Samaritan woman at the well when Jesus shows up asking for water. This morning as I was pondering what I would write it was during my devotional time and the same story popped up. I began to think more about this story. I asked God is this what you want me to write? These are things He was asking me and bringing to mind when once again I read the story today.
The story is found in John 4. Stop and read the story. I will be here when you get back. Ok, so I trust you have stopped and read the story. According to Pastor Kay and what my Bible dictionary says the Jews regarded the Samaritans as a people foreign to themselves in spite of an obvious shared heritage. The Samaritans according to Pastor Kay were outcasts. Now we go one step farther and find this woman as well was an outcast.
From all my readings it was (also from Pastor Kay) normal for women to go and draw their water for the day during the early morning hours. Living in Texas in the summer I certainly would want to go and draw water in the morning hours as well. While there I am sure the women chatted and probably told a story or two and maybe even gossiped a little. We know from the story it was about noon when the woman at the well showed up. There are no other women there to draw water. So we can assume she either likes to sleep late or she likes to show up when no one else is there. We also know from the story that she had five husbands and the man living with her was not her husband. From my experiences and from my own guilty self I know women usually look down on other women who have had more than one or two men in their lives. Ok, so the first two died from illnesses; you were unlucky, but three, four and five…really?
So she shows up Jesus is there and he proceeds to tell her about her life. He begins to witness to her and she listens and even asks questions. She is impressed and I believe she took to heart what he had to say. So, instead of keeping it to herself she runs back to Samaria and tells the others to come and see this man who told her about her life. Something she said must have grabbed these people’s attention because they have excluded her in their circles yet they listen and go find the man she is talking about. You know how the story ends. We have heard it many times.
As I was dealing with this after recently hearing Pastor Kay’s sermon on it and then again this morning some things popped out at me; well more like God was teaching me. The question recently was asked the same day she preached the sermon, “Who is my neighbor?” God was asking me a different question.
God was asking and telling me, “Who are those today society looks as downcast? Who has society written off the pages of a book? Who do they look at and frown? Those are the ones I want you to share the Gospel with.” Wow! Really, Lord? Seriously?
I find it so easy to share my faith with others in a church or a Bible Study setting. I can even share my faith with friends outside the church that I associate with and call friends, but Lord what are you asking? You want me to go to those who are down and out, who society does not want to have anything to do with and speak God to them? That is a tall order.
I realize those same people are the ones I often help with at my volunteer site. I do share my faith with them, but they come to me. I don’t go to them. Most of the time I feel comfortable sharing with them; it feels natural, but it is a setting that has limits and boundaries. I am wondering if this is a first step for something else. I don’t know.
We often follow God’s calling and we do share our faith with others, but we often do it when it is safe and comfortable. We do it when there are boundaries and limits. Now I am not promoting going out on your own and sharing the gospel or God in an unsafe neighborhood by yourself. What God is asking me and I am asking you in our churches today do we seek out those who are outcasts or do we seek those who are like us and have money to put in the plates so we can have more programs, build more buildings and help our own? How many times do we take a mission trip into a Samaritan village? Where could we go and meet people who are like this Samarian woman today?
God is asking me some tough questions. Who are those people I pass each day or see in the grocery store that needs a smile or a hand up and I pass them by because in my mind they are outcasts? Mark 12:31 says, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Who is my neighbor? Is it the person next door? Is it the people I go to church with? Could it possibly be the one who has a tattoo body? Is it the neighbor who is from a different nationality and I don’t trust that nationality so I stay away from them and don’t talk to them? Or what about those who have piercings all over their body; lips, eyes, brows, etc.?
This is not one of those easy lessons I am learning. I am being questioned about who I share my faith with and who I turn away from. Let’s think for a minute. What if Jesus had not spoken to this woman? What if in the distance he sees a woman from Samaria at the well and since he knows her life decides not to go until after she leaves? She would not have heard about the everlasting water or life eternally, she would not have dropped everything and went and shared her faith with others. The town of Samaria might not have ever invited Jesus to their town and listened to him. Maybe lives were saved because he spoke to the outcast woman. What lives could we save if we spoke to the outcasts?
I know a couple who volunteer in a Dental Ministry for the homeless. Now you talk about outcasts. How many of us think of them as outcasts? Yet these people one Friday a month goes and works in this clinic and I am sure shares their faith when they get a chance.
I know a young lady who has become friends with a Christian Gothic group on Facebook. These are young men and women who wear black and are gothic in nature. They are struggling with faith because people shun them. This young woman shares the gospel with them and talks to them about faith and how much God loves them. Many of us think of those and shudder and turn away.
When I read the story of the Samaritan woman I think I will forever be touched and changed. I will probably be disturbed the next time I see someone who I think society has put out to pasture and I hope I find some way to share the gospel with them; even if only a smile or a “You know God loves you.” I hope I am brave enough to start a conversation with them.
I ask each of you to go to God and ask God to help you find your place; to find a Samaria place where the outcasts are and a place to share your faith. It may be he’s calling you to volunteer someplace, or join a group on Facebook, or maybe it might be to just speak to those we meet on a daily basis and look down on. Picture this: you are going pass Samaria. You know the reputation, but you are thirsty and dry and need a drink. There is a water fountain, but someone else is there; someone you don’t associate with. Do you wait or do you go and start a conversation with them as you wait for your turn? Will what you say to them make a difference? That is exactly what Jesus did and we are called to follow him, will you?
Dear God: I know this lesson was for me. I know I look at people and sometimes cross the street because I am fearful. I know I don’t say hi to people or even smile because they are dysfunctional, or don’t dress like me, or aren’t from my neck of the woods, or just because they look different. I turn away like the Jews did to the Samaritans and disassociate myself from them. Be with me as I seek out my Samaritans. Give me the courage not to turn away, but to speak to them about your love for them. Let me share my faith when I can and as often as I can. Thank you Lord for dying on the cross for me but let me be reminded you died for them also and they will only know that if I tell them. Help me to tell them God. I pray all these things in your powerful name who will give me courage, strength and faith. Amen.