In the sermon yesterday, a point was made that I knew but the Scripture itself never seemed to jump out at me. Our minister was preaching out of John 4, the story of Jesus with the woman at the well. I knew one of the major strikes against her was that she was a Samaritan and Jews at the time just did not associate with Samaritans (which is why the parable of the Good Samaritan is so significant). In fact, Jews would often take the long way around Samaria just to avoid them all together. With that in mind, this verse jumped off the page at me.
"Now he had to go through Samaria" (John 4:4)
Is my Bible lying to me? We know that Jesus didn't have to go through Samaria; he could have done what every other contemporary Jew would have done. He could have gone around. But he didn't.
No, the Bible is not deceiving. Jesus really did have to go through Samaria. He had to because it was part of Jesus' mission- a mission that Jesus had to accomplish.
And I was convicted.
How often do we "take the long way home" to avoid driving through a bad part of town? How often do we see someone at work or maybe even at church and we take the long way around to avoid talking with them? Do we share Jesus' conviction that he had to go where it would be most uncomfortable?
Dr. Keith Phillips, founder of World Impact tells the story of when he was a student at UCLA how he would drive to Biola University (on the other side of Los Angeles) to help lead a campus ministry. On the freeways, he would intentionally avoid driving through Compton- the projects. Eventually he would become convicted that he was driving across LA to preach the Gospel (at a Christian university no less) but was ignoring a demographic who needed the Gospel the most. Eventually he started to get off the freeway, take the surface streets, and take time at the projects to "preach, teach and heal." The Holy Spirit convicted him that he had to stop there. And World Impact was born.
Where is someplace uncomfortable that you have to go to follow in Jesus' footsteps? Who is someone that you have to talk to and share about Jesus even if you don't want to?
You may have to go to a foreign country. You may have to share with someone of another race, another religion. You may have to serve a community that you don't think deserves it.
I don't know where you have to go, I only know what you don't have to do.
You don't have to take the long way home.