Monday, March 28, 2005

Jesus Talks With The Samaritan Woman

Debate is raging over at Gerrymander about the contextualisation of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the well (John 4) to refer to gay people today.

The typical Jew in Jesus' situation wouldn't have even interacted with the Samaritan woman, she would have been a total nonentity to him. However Jesus saw beyond the social structures of his day to the humanity of the woman and her need to know God.

The Samaritan woman shows that she already understands her sin. When Jesus confronts her about her five husbands, (and it could only have been confronting, there is no nice way to tell a woman that kind of thing) she does not argue or justify herself but acknowledges him as a prophet by seeking his guidance on possibly the most pressing theological question for any Samaritan - a question that went to the root of the exclusion of the Samaritans from the rest of God's chosen people.

The passage does not include repentance because it was implicit in the act of believing - to believe was not just to assent to an ideological construct but to be transformed. The repentance is clear as the woman rushes back to tell her neighbours about Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus ministered principally to those who knew they were in sin but thought there was no way out. Prostitutes, tax collectors are the most prominent examples, but lepers, cripples, the demon possessed and the Samaritan woman figure in this picture as well.

The (principally) Jewish outcasts Jesus ministered to knew the Law and their condemnation under it, they didn't need a rehash of the law, they were ready to receive grace now. In today's society, their equivalents are the people who grew up in church, or at a Christian school, or who have left the church because of legalism.

Most unchurched people we minister to today though lack the grounding in the law that the people of Jesus' day had. They either claim to have it all together, or know they don't but can't pinpoint what isn't together exactly. Consequently, our ministry style today will be more like Paul ministering to the Gentiles - constantly retelling the story of Israel and reminding his Gentile converts about the call to righteousness.

The key is to not feel like we have to be constantly reminding gay people of what we believe. One of my good friends at school "came out" in year 12. He already knew where I stood on the issue of homosexuality, and we haven't talked much about it then, but we are still able to talk about twenty million and one other topics, from computers to languages to politics. The door is still open for me to minister to him, whereas if I was obsessed with constantly reminding him of my views on homosexuality, that door would be closed.


Baggas said...

I love the last paragraph of what you wrote Joel about not needing to constantly remind people about our position on homosexuality, but being able to maintain an open friendship and discourse on so many other levels, thus keeping the door open for ministry - I think you've hit the nail on the head there. This would be a much better position for Christians to hold, both on a private and a public level.

11:47 AM  

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