Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Monday, October 26, 2015

He Went Out of His Way, a re-post

   I was reading something the other day where the writer was wondering about the story in the Bible of the woman at the well,  if Jesus went to Samaria to meet the woman at the well, or if she just happened to come there when He was sitting at the well.

  I have been thinking about it and decided to write a blog post about it, but as I got ready to do so, it seemed like I may have already blogged about it, so I started searching through past blog posts..... and sure enough, I blogged about it back on August of 2014. So I decided to edit it a bit and post it again:

One of my favorite Bible stories is in John 4. It is the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. And it is a favorite for a couple of reasons. It shows Jesus wasn't just here for good people, but for the down and out "not-so-nice" people. I also identify with the Samaritan Woman, so the story means a lot to me. And another reason: Jesus went out of His way to meet her. Samaria wasn't on their path. In fact, Jews avoided Samaria, but the Bible says He needed to go through Samaria. For one woman.

  I am sure they had a full day planned, and Jesus was a busy guy, but He didn't just take time out of His day for this woman. He went out of His way.

  I have a friend who is a fairly new friend, but is a great friend. He lived the gay lifestyle for several  years before turning to God, and now runs a ministry in Orlando, Florida for men struggling with same-sex attractions. Near the time I originally posted this blog post, he had a friend show up at his door around 3 am. This friend is gay and was trying to move out away from his boyfriend, so the boyfriend beat him up. Matthew stayed up all night ministering to this guy. Most Christians would slam the door on a gay guy who was just beat up by his boyfriend, but Matthew went out of his way to help this guy, who as far as I know has made no move towards Christianity.

  There's another story in the Bible involving a Samaritan, and it also involves someone going out of his way. The story of the Good Samaritan. Jew gets robbed and left for dead in the ditch. A couple of religious leaders come by and ignore him and pass on the other side of the road. Then a Samaritan, a natural enemy of Jews, comes along. He stops, bandages the wounds of the beaten man, takes him to an inn and pays for his room, and tells the innkeeper he will pay anything left on the tab when he comes back.

  Not many Christians want to do that anymore. Go out of their way, be inconvenienced, get their hands dirty. They'll sing a special, take up the offering, or anything else that will put them up front in church, just as long as it isn't an inconvenience. They'll put money in the offering plate for missions, do an ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for a disease, just as long as they don't have to go out of their way.

  We have become selfish Christians. We have our cliques, our plans, and have our days planned out just the way we want them to go. If someone is lying in the ditch, too many of us are like the religious leaders and pass by, afraid it will take up our time or it will get our hands dirty.

  I have talked before about wearing masks. What it is like to attend church and feel you have to wear a mask for fear of what would happen if people could see under the mask. Some might avoid you. Others might run. Still others might want to put a scarlet letter on you like in the classic book "The Scarlet Letter". And others might just ignore you. All of those reactions are sad. We are the Church, the family of God. We should be surrounding people with love when their masks fall to the ground or slip aside to give a glimpse of what is underneath.

  Our churches are full of hurting and struggling people. Often we have no idea what is going on, but other times we do know or have a good idea. And too often, we pass by and let them lie there in the ditch. We don't have time, we don't want to go out of our way, or get our hands dirty... or God forbid, we catch THAT from them.

  Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear over a cup of coffee. They need someone asking how they are doing, and really meaning it. I've been there. I have wanted someone to ask me how I was doing, and not be freaked out if I didn't use the Christian "f-word." (Fine). I've wanted someone to put their arm around me and tell me I was going to make it, that I mattered, that God does care and love me.

   And all too many times, it didn't happen. But that was then, this is now, and it has helped me understand  how important it is to be there for our Christian brothers and sisters. In fact, I have prayed that if God wanted to use my struggles to help someone else some day, I would be willing to be used.

  I had a friend confide in me recently that they are afraid of how people at their church will react and treat them if something gets out that is most likely going to get out. I think it is sad that it is even a worry. Isn't this the family of God?  Where "when one has a heartache, we all share a tear"? Or is it "when one has a heartache, we gossip, judge, and are just glad it isn't us in those circumstances?" That sounds jaded and even a bit snarky, but I am afraid it is true of a lot of people.

 We need to cut back on our golf games, our movies, reading, shopping, football games, and whatever else we think is so important that we do, and spend time on people. That's what Jesus did, and what He would do if He were walking the earth today doing His earthly ministry.

  And we need to love. And go out of our way. We need to get our hands dirty once in a while, and set aside our plans to be there for a hurting brother or sister.

  It wasn't convenient for Jesus to go through Samaria to meet that one lone outcast of a woman. But He did.

  And it was far from convenient for Him to go through the beatings, mockery, and crucifixion for us, so that we could have eternal life........ but He did it. He left Heaven and came here to die for you and I. It was so much more than an inconvenience, and yet we can't go out of our way for Him? We can't go out of our way to be there for others who are hurting?

 Myself included in this statement: we are too focused on me. Making me comfortable and happy. Doing what me wants, spending time on me. We even make the Bible fit what me wants. And we are so busy making me happy and comfortable, that we don't have time for others. Time to encourage and be Jesus to others. Me has to be entertained, fed, and made happy.

  If we truly lived selfless lives with eternity in view, things would be so different. But whether we want to admit it, too many of us are basically selfish down deep. We excuse it and call it other things, but we are basically selfish.

  May God help us all to go out of our way, to get our hands dirty, and to inconvenience ourselves once in a while, and not be so bound on making me happy.

He Went Out of His Way

Verse 1
She could not believe He would come to her city,
Come to a Samarian well
But He offered and got her to drink living water, 
Now she's got a story to tell

To make a way, He went out of His way
Came to me, left Heaven one day
He took a journey alone
Left His Father at home
To make a way, He went out of His way

Verse 2
He left the splendor of Heaven for sinners, 
For sinners He laid up His crown
He traded His glory to bring us this story
To Calvary Heaven came down

To make a way, He went out of His way
Came to me, left Heaven one day
He took a journey alone
Left His Father at home
To make a way, He went out of His way

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