Crossing the Divide

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” … 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

 (John 4:7-9)

29 He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him … 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  
(Luke 10:29-37)

 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  

(Galatians 3:28)
We are talking this week about how we can glorify God through our friendships. But have you noticed that some friendships are easier than others? Most of us instinctively build relationships with those who look and think like we do. Whether it is age or race or gender or education – we typically build friendships with people like ourselves.

Jesus, on the other hand, shocked those around him by his willingness to cross the divide. He intentionally pursued friendships with people who were not at all like him. He came down to earth from heaven. That’s a big divide to cross, for starters, but then he went further. As a man in a culture where friendships were formed strictly according to gender, he deliberately forged friendships with many women. As a Jew in a world where the Jews hated the Samaritans, he deliberately reached out in friendship to Samaritans too. He even told the Parable of the Good Samaritan – a contradiction in terms, according to Jewish culture – and he used it to urges his followers to cross the divide with him. We live in a world that is divided in many ways. Jesus calls us all to become bridge-builders.

Praise God, our Everyday Church family is full of men and women from many different backgrounds, nationalities and races. We are fast becoming the multicultural church family that the Lord wants us to be. But unless we are proactive on an individual level, we will still end up forming most of our friendships with people who are pretty much like ourselves. When the Lord says that it is not good for any of us to be alone, he is not simply calling us to pursue friendship. He is calling us to glorify him by pursuing diverse friendships that intentionally cross the divide.
1)   Who are your closest friends at Everyday Church? Take a moment to consider whether they are mainly like you in terms of gender, background, nationality and race. How much do your friendships cross the divide?

2)   What do you think stops us from forming deep friendship with people who are unlike ourselves?

3)   How could you be more deliberate over the next few days and weeks to imitate the attitude of Jesus in this? How can you become more like the Good Samaritan, building bridges to forge friendships that cross the divide?
Father God, I thank you that I live in this generation, where people from every race and culture and nationality live shoulder-to-shoulder with one another. Help me to cross the divide and to build friendships with those who are different from me. Help me to do this for your own great glory, Lord. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.