By Matthew Belwood

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.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (John 4:9-10)

Recently, I was called to go to court and testify in the proceedings of two Deaf boys. When I first arrived in the Hamilton County Juvenile courts, I'll be honest, I didn't want to be there. I wanted to avoid these kids that were present while I had to go through the proceeding. They were rough. They weren't like me, a guy who had a nice middle-class upbringing. I felt like I wasn't supposed to be talking to these tough kids.

Who knew why they were there? Theft? Drugs? Worse? Murder? They had a bunch of tattooes and piercings. I'm assuming most of them were poor and urban - at least that's how they looked to me.   

During a break between meetings with lawyers for the two Deaf boys, I saw people look to one side of the room fairly quickly. The interpreter with me told us that someone was screaming. Some cops quickly went to that area to take care of whatever the problem was. My mind was racing... What was going on? Was someone going to get hurt? Was I going to witness something I didn't want to see? I was nervous with the rough atmosphere.

Shortly after, a very tall, baby-faced teenager was called by a courtroom. He got up and he had some gangster-style clothing, his pants hanging off his rear end. The woman with him, whom I assumed to be his grandmother due to the age, but I could have been wrong.

The boy made some smart comments and as interpreted by the interpreter, the grandmother responded, "You are unruly."  The boy looked at her with an attitude like she was making up words. "What? Unruly? What's that??" Grandma sighed... "It means you don't know how to behave properly."  

I had not seen such a rough group of teenagers in my entire life. I didn't speak with any of those teenagers. I didn't want to make eye contact. I was not in my element. I hoped that I could get out of that place as soon as I could. But I was reminded of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus in John 4. There is a lot of historical context in this passage.  

The first thing you might already know, Jesus was Jewish. The woman at the well was a Samaritan. The Jews and Samaritans hated each other and were not comfortable around each other. They were such enemies, that Jesus and his disciples weren't supposed to be there. The Jews were so afraid they'd be contaminated by the Samaritans. In fact, when Jews travel, they usually avoid the area and take another route.

But Jesus went right into the Samaritan world. It was scandalous, since men and women, especially back in that day, weren't supposed to be seen together like that. Men and women weren't supposed to talk like this. Especially a Samaritan woman with a reputation for having five husbands.

Thirdly, Jesus already knew everything about this woman's life. There was nothing that surprised him. He knew all the details about her life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. She thought she could hide from him, but that just wasn't possible.  

A lot of us do not want to go into the world of others who we are not comfortable with, me including. We want to avoid that area and go around it. We don't want to be there. Many are like the Jews who do not want to talk to the Samaritans. We don't want to get caught looking like we are doing something we shouldn't, like a man talking with another woman. 

I'll be honest with you, back after I graduated from Kentucky Christian College, I had an offer to go to Cincinnati. I didn't want to go. I wasn't comfortable in that area. It had a reputation for being a very rough place. Even the Deaf teenagers I worked with were poor, urban kids with criminal histories. I still am sad when I think about the time one of the Deaf students I worked with was investigated for rape.   

But you know what? It's only when we go to uncomfortable places are we really able to share the abundant life that Jesus offers. We can't tell about the life giving water if we don't go where we don't really want to go to. We can't talk about the Father if we don't go to Juvenile Detention centers. We can't share the message that we don't have to be thirsty again if we don't go to Deaf schools.

May we press further outside of our comfort zone and into the most spiritually parched places and bring His Life-giving water there. May the souls of the youth be watered so they can blossom.

 

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