Not only didn’t Jews like Samaritans, they considered them heretics and socially unacceptable. No Jew in Jesus’ day would have ever invited a Samaritan over for dinner, or allowed them to enter the Temple, or spent any time praying for, or alongside, a Samaritan.
Yet in Jesus’ parable the Samaritan is the one who shows kindness and mercy and love to the Jewish man who is found beaten on the side of the road. Masterfully, Jesus urges everyone to “go and do likewise” which would mean acting like a Samaritan and identifying with them as other human beings who are worthy of love and compassion.
Keep in mind, when Jesus used Samaritans in his parable, he wasn't endorsing their religion or their lifestyle. Instead, he was hoping to upset the negative stereotypes surrounding them. He wanted to challenge the idea that their bad theology made it acceptable for the Jews to hate them and treat them as less than human.
I recently heard a real-life Samaritan story. It had the same effect on me as I’m sure Jesus’ parable had on his audience that day.
Are you ready to hear something that might pull you out of your comfort zone?
This is a true story.
Here we go:
One night two Christian women stepped into the swimming pool which was outside their motel room.
They met another woman at the pool. This woman had rejected God. She had a can of beer in her hand and she stood at the other end of the pool with her husband.
One of the two Christian women began to talk with this woman who was far from God. She asked the woman with the beer can a question: “Is it ok if my wife and I are close in the pool?”
The woman with the beer, who was far from God, said, "Well, I don't have to ask anybody for permission to hold my husband's hand and here y'all have been together 16 years. I think it sucks that you have to ask anyone that".
“You have shown more grace and love for us than most Christians ever have,” said the Christian woman, who was gay.
Then the two Christian women began to talk to her about Jesus. They told her that Jesus wasn’t like those who had heaped shame upon them. They talked about how Jesus saw everyone as beautiful and dearly loved. They asked her if she wanted to know Jesus in a personal way.
The woman with the beer thought that she had to accept the God of those judgmental Christians or become agnostic. She never knew there was another way.
For the first time in her life, this woman received the news that there was a God who loved her; a God that had nothing to do with any religion.
There, in that motel swimming pool, these two Christian women found common ground with an agnostic woman who was far from God.
Strangely enough, what had united these women together was an awareness that those Christians who had been cruel to the two lesbians and the Christians who had misrepresented the love of God to the agnostic, weren’t really acting like Jesus at all.
Eventually, one of the two Christian women told the woman with the beer something profound. She said, "The God you wanted to believe in has been there all along."
"I have never thought of it that way", the woman with the beer said, and as they continued to talk the woman just kept on repeating it over and over again. "I have never thought of it that way."
Before they left, the two Christians were able to give her some resources and pray with her.
That night, in the swimming pool, these two Christian women had loved this woman, and her husband, back to life.
Go now, therefore, and do likewise.
*Special thanks to my friend P.K. Langley for her permission to re-tell her story here.
*NOT A SIN?
*OUR MISSED OPPORTUNITY
*BLESSED ARE THE EUNUCHS
*A LOVE THAT'S BETTER THAN SEX