JESUS WAS HEADED TO JERUSALEM and, for a reason not stated in the gospels, decided to go through a Samaritan town. The Samaritans refused Him entrance, and two of His disciples grew angry. “How ’bout we just burn them alive?”
Jesus set them straight. “You have no idea who you’re acting like.”
A day later, following a tremendous ministry report from 70 of His disciples, “You should have seen what happened! Even the devils are subject to your name!” He told a parable. A Jewish man was robbed and beaten and left for dead. Along came three men, traveling in the same direction. The first two, devout men of the temple, passed the dying man by. The third man, a Samaritan, filled with compassion, gave of His time and money to save the man’s life.
A Samaritan. Why did Jesus choose a Samaritan for the parable? Just twenty-four hours earlier, two of His closest followers wanted to destroy an entire Samaritan town.
Jesus rescued people of all cultures and lifestyles, not just Jews. There was the daughter of a Syro-Phoenician woman, the son of a widow from Nain, a woman taken in adultery. A Roman centurion whose faith, Jesus’ said was the greatest He’d seen in all of Israel. Among His disciples were fisherman, a Zealot, a tax collector, a physician, men of various upbringings, different social statuses. Men and women of varying ages gave up homes, finances, family time, to support His ministry. And it was noticed. In those moments of Peter’s denial, the observers remarked on His speech pattern, saying, “Aren’t you a Galilean?”
The modern church has made too much of people’s appearance, what clothing they wear, if they have tattoos, if they don’t. “Didn’t she wear shorts last Sunday?” “My, he looks like he just got out of prison.” We’ve divided each other up by finances, skin color, hairstyles. Education, IQ. Music genres, speech patterns, extracurricular activities. Making some things people do, are good at, taboo.
<Lowers her voice to a whisper.> “Doesn’t she … dance?”
I’ve said this many times—We should walk into a room and not see our differences. We shouldn’t notice what we dislike but instead see God’s heart for that person. Whether she’s overweight or he has a mental disorder, whether her children are unruly, or they came from <insert the offending culture>, makes no different at all to the Savior. Nor does the money he spent on his car, or how many square feet their house is, nor what school that man did or didn’t attend.
Jesus died for whosoever. He died for all.
We’ve legitimized our opinions by creating rules. Rule #1 following salvation is to follow the church-culture dress code. Rule #2 is to accept you cannot do what you trained to do. Some of the most fantastic artists, musicians, and writers use their talents for secular culture because that is where God has placed them, that is who they can minister to. Doctors must heal the sick. They are not needed for those who are well.
When we all get to heaven, what will it look like? What did the Savior say when He taught the disciples how to pray? “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) Anyone who accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord will not be rejected in heaven for any reason, and it is the heavenly kingdom He brought to earth. The very life of the Father, eternal life present in the throne room, walked and talked and rose again for anyone who’d receive it.
Instead of worrying about making more fine print for men to follow, more laws, what sits on God’s heart is that we love one another. We love as much as He loves and let His Spirit do the change of heart, the promotion of skills and talents, the blessings. “For God sent God to earth, conceived by God, so that God could die and inherit what God willed God to have.”* Jesus came to give abundant life.
And we should look like Him. We should walk in the room and see beauty instead.
*Read more of "God Himself."
Suzanne D. Williams, Author
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