Monday, November 3, 2014
Bridge the chasm
It could have looked like this…
John 4:7-9 NIV
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
IT was an unlikely conversation. Crossing the room? This was crossing not one, but two cultural divides. Jewish men rarely acknowledged a woman’s presence in public, let alone initiating a conversation with one – that shouldn’t have happened in public. And a Jew talking openly to a Samaritan…!
“Would you please give me a drink of water?” Jesus asks. He is resting by a large well set in a burnt desert, the sun has been beating down for hours while he has been travelling, and He is tired and – thirsty.
This is the story of Jesus having an encounter with a Samaritan woman who was coming, on her own, to draw water from the well which was situated outside her village. This is a woman whose partner relationships she would have described, in Facebook jargon, as “complicated”.
Her reaction to Jesus is part incredulous, part just annoyed. “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for water?”
But He did. He settled on the right topic of conversation – water was the common need. Everyone near a well is interested in talking about water.
Jesus’ first lesson to us is this: Don’t look on a chasm as a separation, but look on a chasm as an opportunity to find a way to cross it. To find His way to cross it.
There are times when we need to stretch our boundaries. Going into unnatural or uncomfortable social situations might not be what we would choose, but it yields unbeatable experience. And different people always turn out to be interesting.
The Muslim world can be like that for us. We have a nearby town which is nearly one-third Muslim. A lot of us grew up in a world where the social expectation was distance and separation. Suspicion has been heightened by videos of extremists purporting to represent that faith, seen decapitating volunteer aid workers and journalists.
The truth is that they are probably more frightened of our possible negativity towards them because of the actions of terrorists who they regard as evil and ethnicity? Do I take an interest in cultures that are different to where I feel comfortable?
Take steps – big steps or little ones, bug take steps. That is what we see Jesus doing. If we want to keep in step with Him, those steps will take us across divides.