Each morning I spend time reading scripture and this morning 4 simple verses popped out at me.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4: 39-42)
A little background information here. The Samaritans and Israelites at this time hate each other. While originally a “Samaritan” was simply an Israelite in the Northern Kingdom, hatred arose when the Southern Kingdom decided that the Samaritans had BAD BLOOD. Why? Because they were invaded by the Assyrians (a group of Gentiles) and intermarriage happened. Jews and Gentiles up north got together, started families, and the Jews simply allowed these Gentiles to set up shop. So not only did intermarriage happen but pagan worship and foreign gods were on full display (2 Kings 17:29). To be “holy and set apart as God’s chosen people” (Deut 7:6) was no more. And by the time the Southern Jews returned to Jerusalem (where the Samaritans were dwelling) quarrel ensued. Anger, hatred, bitterness, and good-old fashioned family feud was rampant (there was/is more to the story as there were theological and historical debates that continued to drive a wedge – but you get the picture).
So there is some history…however by the time our text takes place (with Jesus at the center of this encounter) things were much worse. Now not only did you talk bad about each other, now not only did you tell hateful stories about each other, but now if you were a Jew you AVOIDED Samaria and Samaritans at all costs (and vice-a-versa). If you had to go from one place to another and Samaria was in the middle and clearly the shorter route? It didn’t matter. You took the long, treacherous and barren route. You’d risk death and starvation before setting foot in that heathen land! Things were bad between these two groups of people.
With all that said, what was it that struck me in this text? Well, Jesus is a Jew and he had just spent time talking with a Samaritan woman (John 4:1-38). He spent time with her and knew her story. He knew how unclean and broken she was by her past and yet he didn’t care. This Jew (Jesus) spent time with a Samaritan woman. And what does she do after that meeting? She goes back and tells all her family and friends about it and how amazing it was and they return…well, then we get our text up top. They see Jesus…are amazed at who he is…and invite him to their home. And not only does Jesus accept their invitation but HE STAYS FOR 2 DAYS.
These Hatfield and McCoy’s cross barriers, boundaries, gulley’s, trenches, and bomb fields and spend time together. But not only that, they spend 2 days together. They ate breakfast together, they talked in the early morning together. They had a snack together. They had lunch together. They took a siesta together. They took walks together. They ate dinner together. They laughed together. They shared a cup together and told stories together. They broke bread together time and time again – and then they all went to sleep TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN THE NEXT DAY.
Where was the division? Where was the anger? Where was the hatred? All those things left and were forgotten simply because two different people sat down and talked.
I remember taking a course on Islam back in Seminary and learning about a custom that many Muslims in the Middle East still observe to this day. That if I come to your house and you invite me in and we share a cup together…I am no longer considered a stranger to you. I am now your brother. Even if me standing at the door I am considered your enemy and yet somehow I get into your house? You now will defend me, love me, and cherish me as I would you. No more are we separate.
- It doesn’t matter that I am white and you are brown
- It doesn’t matter that I am Christian and you are Muslim
- It doesn’t matter that I am middle-aged and you are younger.
- It doesn’t matter that I am a rich and you are poor.
IT SIMPLY DOESN’T MATTER.
I am tired of seeing our divisions continue to divide us. I am tired of hearing how building a wall is going to solve our immigration problems. I am so tired of being sucked into watching trash on TV that talks crap about another religion. I am so tired of watching people who worship the same God talk down to each other. And I’m simply EXHAUSTED watching countries become divided and polarized. Yes, I’m talking to Republican and Democratic Leaders and all other air-breathers of this world.
You and me? We exist the same. Even if we don’t believe the same thing there are far more things between us that are similar than different. But how will we know that if we don’t spend time together? How will we not know things if we don’t break bread together? How will we not know that we laugh at the same stupid things, cry at the same things, and cringe at the same things if we don’t sit down together and get to know each other?
So before we gawk at someone we don’t know… before we tense up at a “foreigner”, “immigrant” or simply someone who doesn’t worship the same God as us…let’s spend time with them. Take them to coffee. Hear their story and SEE OURSELVES IN THEM. Let’s build relationships and reunite brother and sister. Let’s build bridges instead of throwing rocks. Let’s remember that we all are not only cut from the same mold but but we are also the same whether we want to acknowledge it or not.