Today’s readings (click below to open in a new window):
Psalms 56; 149, Genesis 12:9-13:1, Hebrews 7:18-28, John 4:27-42
How do we approach people we assume to be our enemies? Today’s readings feature two stories about people traveling through presumably hostile territory. They start with very different mindsets, and have very different results.
When Abram and his beautiful wife Sarai arrived in Egypt, he instructed her to pose as his sister so the Egyptians who wanted to woo her would treat him well. Otherwise, he feared, they might murder him to take her. Word of her beauty reached Pharaoh and soon she was living in his home. Displeased with this situation, God afflicted Pharaoh’s household with great plagues. His lie thus revealed, Abram was forced to flee with Sarai.
While passing through Samaria, Jesus stopped at a well. He had a very candid though compassionate conversation with a woman he met there. Once he revealed himself to be the messiah by showing he knew undisclosed details of her life, she was not afraid to challenge him about his relationship with non-Jews. After the people of her town heard her story, they invited Jesus to stay and he spent two days with them. As a result many Samaritans became believers.
Abram told an easy lie, and Jesus told hard truths. The Egyptians treated Abram well for a while, but no relationship was established. In the end, the lie forced him away. The Samaritan woman respected Jesus because he told the truth, and returned his frankness. The initial conversation between them does not read as comfortable, but in the end he formed an unexpected and important relationship with the Samaritan people.
The world tells us never to trust our enemies, and to do unto them before they do unto us. Jesus teaches and shows us another way. It is a more risky path, as we can never be sure of our enemy’s intentions, but it also opens a door to the possibility of reconciliation. If we refuse to hear someone’s story, or respond with judgment, that door stays closed. Being the first to offer a hand in peace is not a sign of a weak resolve, but of a strong faith.
Comfort: Jesus doesn’t want a relationship with your Sunday best, he wants one with your honest everyday self.
Challenge: Do you have any enemies you could get to know better? Try to do so.
Prayer: Prince of Peace, teach me the ways of peace. Amen.
Discussion: Who do you consider your enemies? How do you communicate with them?
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