It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell us that we live in a confused culture. All you have to do is turn on prime-time TV to see the muddled messages we are feeding our heads and hearts.
As a pastor I feel like I’m supposed to know how to address these significant cultural issues. I feel like I’m supposed to be more knowledgeable, more theologically educated, and more prepared. Yet I often find myself just praying and wishing that Jesus was standing right in front of me so I could watch exactly how He would handle these difficult issues.
The other day I was reading one of my favorite Jesus stories found in John 4. Jesus comes across a Samaritan woman at a watering well. Jesus reveals to us that this woman had previously had five different husbands, and the man she was currently with wasn’t her husband at all. I think it’s safe to say that this woman was confused and looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places.
When reading this story, I was amazed that Jesus did not scold the Samaritan woman for her “lifestyle.” Nor did he use the Bible as a weapon against her. Instead, He saw past her distorted behavior to the need and emptiness that were driving it. Seeing her sin, Jesus loved her.
I love Jesus’ orientation to her. But I also wonder if many modern-day Christians would be annoyed that Jesus wasn’t more harsh with her. It seems to me that Jesus is so loving and forgiving that it can annoy us sometimes. It may seem crazy to say, but some people want Jesus to hold a grudge and show His moral superiority against people, yet Jesus never responds that way. I have a lot to learn from Jesus.
We live in a day and age where the cultural messages coming at us are constant and confusing. It’s important to remember that we are talking about issues involving real people, with a real need for Jesus. The way we love and respond to these individuals is incredibly important.
The Samaritan woman, after meeting Jesus spoke, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)
Jesus didn’t shame her, scold her, or isolate her. Instead, Jesus shared truth, He loved her, and His response led to the Samaritan woman wanting to be around Jesus even more.
May we learn from Jesus, and may we navigate these difficult cultural issues with the same grace, love, and availability that Jesus does!