Monday, October 31, 2016

John 4:25-29 -- On Seeing People as Christ Does

"The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"
John 4:25-29

This is part of an interesting story of the woman at the well.  Christ meets her as she is going to get water, and he asks her for a drink.  They have an interesting conversation, including the fact that he knows she has has five husbands and the person that she now has is not her husband.  He clearly knows that she is a sinner, but as in other instances in the scriptures (such as the woman who anoints his feet and wipes them with her tears, and the woman taken in adultery), he chooses not to condemn her (see Luke 7:47, John 8:11).

Christ's interaction with this woman is an interesting contrast to what we often see in our society.  Not only was she clearly a sinner, but she was a Samaritan, which was a group of people that were shunned at the time by the group and religion that Jesus was a part of.  But instead of heeding the label and the general avoidance that was encouraged as part of his society, and despite the fact that he knew she was engaged in living a life that he didn't agree with, he not only refused to avoid (or "unfriend"?) her, but he specifically engaged in conversation with her, encouraging her questions, teaching her, and teaching the people that she brought to listen to him as well.  This story just says that he stayed there two days, and doesn't say exactly what happened later.  The fact that she left her waterpot at the well instead of actually completing her task is a good indication that she was amazed, and that it mattered to her.  Finding the Christ made her want to run out and tell people, and she immediately *did.* ... Something that should perhaps change us all.

I like the way that God taught her here as well.  He didn't accuse or condemn.  It wasn't a hellfire and brimstone repent-or-die preachfest, but just a conversation.  Because he respected her and treated her like a person and a friend, despite her faults, and despite the labels of society, she was willing to listen.  He saw past all of the nonsense, and saw her as a beautiful human being with stellar potential.

Wouldn't that be amazing, if we could see people as he did?  As he still does?  He didn't have to agree with her political views or her lifestyle in order to talk to her or love her.  Today, when society is wondering "why talkest thou with" someone who isn't voting the same way we are, or "what seekest thou" among whatever group is on the societal dartboard today... let's not join in the condemnation, or ostracize people until they live up to our standards.  Let's reach out and love and help and share with others, whoever they are, whatever they have done.  Let's follow Christ's example of engaging with the people around us, of loving and forgiving others, and of encouraging and accepting repentance rather than condemnation.  Let's remember that people can change, and support them in doing so... just as God does for us.

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