Be Still Know
John 4:4 NLT
‘He had to go through Samaria on the way.’
In my work as a communications consultant, I often have cause to enable people to recognise just how partial our hearing is. Each one of us upon hearing information subconsciously runs it through a series of filters. Those bits that we don’t immediately connect with, we delete; those parts that do not fit with our own understanding, we distort; while all that we don’t naturally identify in our worldview, we generalise.
Jesus found himself journeying from Judea to Galilee, and passed through Samaria. As a Jew, he had a fair understanding of the impurity and false religion of the Samaritans. For the Jews, this was a syncretistic people mixing Judaism with local, pagan deities and practices. However, the Samaritans saw themselves as the true guardians of the ancient Abrahamic religion which the returning Jewish exiles from Babylon had adulterated during their exile.
For Jesus, it was insufficient to live from a series of deletions, distortions and generalisations. He made it clear that first he would take a journey to the very heart of Samaritan religion and engage directly with its adherents. The only way any of us can appropriately hear clearly and accurately, is by placing ourselves in close proximity to those with whom we disagree. It’s all too easy to dismiss and demonise each other from a distance. It’s only once we place ourselves within what we might assume is ‘enemy territory’ that we stand a chance of stepping beyond our prejudice.
Of course, to listen actively is not the same as agreeing with all we hear. Yet, to disagree constructively, with a respect and appreciation of the one we disagree with, is a more excellent way than hurling abuse, segregating ourselves, or worse. In a world in which religion is increasingly portrayed as a source of conflict, God might be calling us to engage in constructive and effective dialogue with those with whom we instinctively disagree.
QUESTION: What prejudices do you carry within? Are these from experience, and if so, what was that experience that gave such prejudice birth? Or are they inherited or taught, and so your instinctive reaction?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you said we were to love our enemies. Give me the courage to do that in my life.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright C 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc, Wheaton, Illinois 60189 USA. All rights reserved.