In the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), here are a few things that needed to die:
- her idea that shame about the past should keep her from God’s love;
- her belief that Samaritans and Jewish people had nothing in common;
- the disciples’ view that a Samaritan woman wasn’t fit to spread the gospel.
In short, this encounter put to death the idea that God’s work is limited to people who are deemed “acceptable.”
As we try to live as Jesus’ disciples, this story is a caution to make sure we engage unlikely people in the work of spreading the gospel. We can start by befriending people who are different from us. The good news is that we are all unlikely! As we are willing to show our own unlikeliness – in the form of awkwardness, discomfort, honest confession of our past – the Holy Spirit will appear. What will be born? New relationships build on honesty, mutual acceptance, and a fresh amazement at God’s forgiving love.
This week, we will hear the story of Jesus’ healing the blind man. Sadly, the miracle of healing is overtaken by the Pharisee’s debate that follows: Who healed him? Wasn't it wrong on the Sabbath? Was he really blind? The Pharisees defensiveness makes them unable to celebrate the miracle of healing.
We are quick to identify ourselves with the blind man and pounce on the Pharisees as self-righteous prigs. But again a caution; before we identify with the blind man, it serves us well to ask 'in what ways we are like the 'Pharisees?'
How are you blind to the joy and healing in other people’s lives?
Have you ever been so sure you were right that you couldn’t accept somebody with a different experience?
Are you resentful of someone else’s good turn?
From what specific spiritual blindness could you ask God to heal you?