Breaking Through Boundary Lines

(Join me on Jewels of Encouragement today as I talk about what it means to truly be free. If you are in Christ, you have been set free…from anger, hate, fear, anxiety, shame, bitterness, addiction, all those things that once held us in bondage. But to truly experience that freedom, we need to let go with both hands.)

Today’s post comes from Lynn Bell. Originally posted on October 11, it recounts one of my favorite passages of Scripture, the account of the Samaritan woman. In our day and culture, I think it’s hard for us to truly understand the significance of what Christ did when He met this scandalous woman at the well. As you read today’s post, I pray through it, God would show you the depths of His love, mercy and grace. For He came to seek and to save the lost, not the righteous, and to set the captives free.

What Do You See in Sychar?

One day when Jesus needed a break from the Pharisees’ antics, he left Judea and headed back to Galilee for a while. Instead of taking the typical Jewish route east across the Jordan River and up, he headed due north through Samaria.

As the disciples strolled into the village of Sychar, the alien territory vibes were strong. They looked around and saw a despised race of people who looked different, talked different, and worshipped different. Left to their own devices, the disciples would never have been there at all. Most Jews refused to have anything to do with Samaritans (John 4:9), and the disciples were not yet able to see beyond what their culture told them to see.

Jesus, doing the will of his Father, saw something entirely different in Sychar—something that made his travel route an unquestionable necessity. He saw a field ripe for harvest—a village full of people who were ready to meet a Savior.

The disciples left Jesus at Jacob’s well and went off to fill their bellies. When they returned, they were dismayed to find what looked to them like Jesus breaking a centuries-old taboo—conversing not just with a Samaritan but with a Samaritan woman.

What Jesus probably saw instead was a beloved child of God with a desperately thirsty soul—a cherished daughter who had been passed around from man to man for most of her adult life. Not only that, but he probably knew she would need only a sip of his living water before she would run back to the village and sprinkle it like quick-grow fertilizer over everyone she knew.

Ask any Jew, and you would probably be told that the Samaritans weren’t interested in the truth, that they would be the last people to repent and place their faith in the Messiah. Yet, the people of Sychar came running to Jesus, and many of them believed. A village was changed that day because Jesus ignored the boundaries of human bigotry and crossed over into Samaritan territory with a message of love and truth.

We each have a Samaria in our lives. At least one. A place of strange, unfamiliar people whom we go out of our way to avoid. Where is your Samaria? Is it an inner city neighborhood? Is it a community of illegal immigrants or with people of Arabic descent? Is it with people who doubt God’s existence? Is it an AA meeting or a homeless shelter? A hospice room inhabited by HIV positive women? A street corner where prostitutes earn their trade?

I heard about some women from a church in San Diego who visit strip clubs and deliver gift bags to the exotic dancers who work there. Imagine the impact of that simple but courageous act of grace by God’s people, who the world usually associates more with self-righteous condemnation.

When God sends you into Sychar, will you go and will you see what He sees? Can you cross over into hostile territory and reach out to some thirsty foreign woman who desperately needs a cup of living water?

By Lynn Bell, author of The Gentle Savior, a Bible study on seeing Jesus through the eyes of the women who met him. Lynn blogs at the Gentle Savior

The Gentle Savior:

The Gentle Savior – Seeing Jesus Through the Eyes of the Women Who Met Him

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did!”

This 10-week Bible study joins a thirsty-hearted Samaritan woman in inviting you to meet a man who looks into a woman’s heart and knows exactly what she needs. Who values women regardless of their marital status, professional skills, sexual history, or financial position. Who notices both the heroic faith of women in desperate circumstances and the quiet suffering of sisters racked by grief and chronic illness. Who invites women to work alongside Him and use their intellectual capacity to know him more fully. Who inspires women to give extravagantly and to stay by his side when all the world abandons him.

The women of the Gospels discovered in every encounter with Jesus that he was no ordinary first-century rabbi, but a gentle Savior who reflected on them the face of his compassionate Father.

**If you loved today’s post and would like to see it make it to the top three of 2011, FB share it, tweet it, like it, or leave a comment. And may Christ fill your thirsty soul to overflowing this December morning!

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