In this world of electronic communication, it is difficult to imagine a world without phones, email, Facebook, or Twitter. It is almost impossible to picture a world where information moved slowly among the people and word of mouth was the fastest way to find out the town gossip.
Our modern world has lost the magic of conversations with strangers and forgotten the importance of human touch. As a culture, the concepts of genuinely interacting face to face are frightening and foreign. I believe this is one of many challenges to building a faith community the Church faces today.
This inability to communicate person to person is not a new problem, but one shared by the Roman Jews in Jesus’ day. They had issues of racism, prejudice, systematic objectivism and other societal problems that prevented one group to speak to another.
If they had these issues 2,000 years ago, how did the early Church handle them? More importantly, how did Jesus spread His Gospel message without the aid of bright lights, guitars, blogs, and social media?
He spoke with people, individuals, with whom He intentionally made contact.
Let’s take a look at one in particular that broke all sorts of social norms and rules.
Jesus meets with a Samaritan Woman at a Well
If we are honest with ourselves, there are certain types of people we do not naturally interact with for various reasons. Sometimes it because we disagree with their politics, lifestyle, their looks, or the feelings we have when around them. The Jews and Samaritans do not get along, haven’t since 700 or so b.c.e. (see 2 Kings 17) Jews would walk many miles out of their way to avoid going through Samaria, and the Samaritans avoided heavily populated Jewish areas as well.
They have different beliefs in regard to scriptural canon and the places of worship.
But here is Jesus, cutting through Samaria and He stops at a well in the heat of the day to rest. A woman is there drawing water.
Let us stop here for a moment. First of all, she is a Samaritan. And second, she is a woman. Jesus, a Jewish man, would be looked down upon and scolded for even being in her presence. But Jesus strikes up a conversation by asking a question. “Will you give me a drink?” She was shocked and informs Him that Jewish men should not be speaking to a Samaritan woman.
The conversation is pleasant and kind – an exchange of questions, comments, and opinions. At one point Jesus asks her to bring her husband, but the woman declares she is single. This would’ve been odd for a woman of her age, but Jesus is not surprised. He states that she has had 5 husbands and lives with a man who is not her husband. This would have been a matter of contention in the religious community for this commentary reflects a life being lived outside of the confines of the Torah.
It is interesting to note that Jesus states her situation as a fact, not contempt or disgust. She does not argue with Jesus’ statement and quickly changes the subject to religious dogma and ceremony. Jesus answers her questions and reveals Himself to be the long awaited for Messiah.
Jesus knew her life circumstances, understood who she was, and still took the time to speak with her. He didn’t throw the Law at her. He didn’t avoid her. He didn’t curse her. He engaged her in a dialogue based on where they were and what they were doing.
And it made all the difference.
The disciples returned and were surprised to see Jesus engaged with a Samaritan woman, but didn’t confront Jesus about it. They respected His decisions and waited to see the outcome.
Turns out that the woman was so impressed by Jesus she told everyone. And many in her village believed in Christ that very day.
A simple moment that changed the lives of so many for generations. Jesus could have ignored her. He could have sent her away. He could have avoided the area all together. But He took time to speak to the fringiest member of a despised people.
How many opportunities have we taken to speak to people outside of ‘our group’? How many times have we sat down and listened to someone of a different political opinion, or race, or fashion, or lifestyle, or social-economical status? This is not a cry for forced conversation, but natural face to face words spoken out of love.
That is how Jesus changed the world.
Are we ready to change the world?
Captain Lauren Boatman is a dedicated servant of Christ who has been a pastor in The Salvation Army for thirteen years. Currently, Lauren has the privilege of serving others in Alabaster, Alabama.
The Salvation Army in Alabaster is actively engaging members of the local community through events, social services, and Bible Teaching. We welcome you to join us for Sunday Worship or engage with us through volunteering.
The Alabaster Salvation Army Corps is located across from the Alabaster YMCA at 108 Plaza Circle. Drop by Monday through Friday from 9am-3pm. We would love to meet and talk with you!