Suppose you wanted to travel between Judea and Galilee. The logical path would be straight through Samaria. But in the first century, Jews would go out of their way to avoid Samaria by traveling through Perea, essentially crossing the Jordan River twice in their travels. Why? There's a long history here, so let's just say there were cultural differences. But, where we might see division, Jesus sees restoration.
In John chapter 4, we read of the amazing encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well near Mt. Gerizim. In their conversation, Jesus skillfully cuts through the barriers of her sin, the public standards of male and female interaction, ritual cleanliness (by sharing a cup of water), and the cultural differences of Jews and Samaritans. And then he offers her the "living water" and declares he is the Messiah. What can we learn from this encounter?
The path of Jesus allows us to truly love and accept all people. Since God created everyone in his image, everyone is bestowed with infinite dignity and worth that is wholly independent from your circumstances and the things that this world values. And that makes everyone worthy of our unconditional love. Even the oppressed. Including people that do not look or act like you, or that worship in a different way. This is Jesus's model of game-changing love. All nations, tribes, and people will be represented in heaven (Rev. 7:9).
Truly following Jesus's message breaks down all barriers of race, gender, political affiliation, social status, and nationality. If the hatred and division you see in the world discourages you, then immerse yourself in Jesus's teaching. He is the ultimate radical. Following him will free you to love everybody, including yourself, but also your enemies. It is through Jesus that God extended his grace to us. His desire is for us to extend grace to others. Jesus is the only answer to this broken world. He is they key to the life-changing, radically transformative, right-side-up system of love that can free you from every destructive personal situation.
Teleios Board Member