Much of Christianity is very adept at hanging “sin tags”
on people. Our multi-layered religious structures nearly always become a kind
of club where there are “insiders” and “outsiders”. The club has rules, and
these rules, if broken, allow the club to expel or reject an offending member.
Clubs are generally careful to admit only those persons
that look like them, talk like them, and most of all, believe like them. The rules
are subject to change, based on the desires and goals of the leaders.
In the 1st Century, it was not the custom for
Jews and Samaritans to associate or do business with each other. Jews viewed
the Samaritans as “dogs” and the Samaritans viewed the Jews as thinking they
were “better” than everyone else.
In The Gospel According to John, chapter 4, verses 1-30,
Jesus is walking through Samaria with His disciples and they stop near the
Village of Sychar, at Jacob’s Well. The disciples go into the Village to buy
food for lunch. Meanwhile a Samaritan woman comes to the well with her water
Jesus asks her for a drink. She is shocked that he spoke
to her. During their discussion, Jesus demonstrates that he knows everything
about the woman; she has had five husbands and the she is currently living with
a man out of wedlock.
The woman is shocked that Jesus knows so much about her. Then
the disciples come back and see Jesus talking to “that kind of woman!” The “sin
tag” was applied. Notice in this story (John 4), Jesus does not chastise the
woman for living with a man out of wedlock. Instead he tells her to go bring
her household to see him.
The woman’s life-style was not as important as her life.
Likewise, in Joshua chapter 2, we read the story of Rahab the prostitute. God
saves her and her family from the destruction of the city of Jericho. Nowhere
in the scripture do we read about God, or anyone else, condemning her
life-style. Her faith was shown by her actions.
These kind of stories are all through the Bible, but they
don’t get the same notoriety as the ones used to condemn people by the
religious structures of today. Christians have usually been the people readiest
to condemn others based on doctrine rather than factual biblical instructions.
When Jesus tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself”
(Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:31), he doesn’t qualify the statement by saying,
“except those kind of people.” In fact, the major qualification for a believer
is to “believe”: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son so
that all who believe in him will never die, but have everlasting life.”
Since God made the rules; believe, love God, love your
neighbor, we are obligated to love all of God’s creation, including “those
kind of people.”
Blessings and Peace to You
ST. ANDREW’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
555 E. Third Street | Grove, OK 74344