The Lord God of the universe is a great God of color and design. This is very obvious when we admire a beautiful sunrise or sunset (see pictures). It is also obvious in the design of God in creating many people of different colors, shades, and hues. God is the designer and architect of every life and therefore every life is of great value in His eyes and every life matters. Understanding God in this light must have been very difficult for the first-century Jewish followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They had always considered themselves as the uniquely called, distinct, chosen people of God. When Jesus left the challenge in Acts 1 that they “should be witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” (v.8), I’m sure they thought Jesus was referring to reaching out to the Jewish populations in those regions. When in fact the Lord Jesus Christ had something very different in mind. He had already illustrated this principle by reaching out to the woman at the well in Samaria in John 4. He had also told the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10. To the Jewish mindset in Jesus’s day, the only good Samaritan was a dead Samaritan. And yet Jesus makes the Samaritan the hero in compassion and in caring for the broken man, who hadn’t experienced this through either the priest or the Levi. In John 4 as the woman leads masses of people to Jesus, He states (referring to the Samaritans), “My food”, Jesus said, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look to the fields! They are ripe for the harvest,” (John 4: 34 – 35 NIV). Jesus is talking about a great harvest among the Samaritans and reinforces that by staying there two more days, seeing a great abundance of people come to place their faith in Him as the Messiah (John 4:39-43).
In Acts 8 Philip goes to a city of the Samaria and preaches the gospel and many began to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and many are saved. Yet the Holy Spirit does not arrive and bless the Samaritans with His presence until Peter and John arrive to lay their hands on the believers already there (Acts 8:14-17). I believe this occurred because God did not want the Samaritans to be viewed as outsiders to the body of Christ, setting up their own separate organization apart from the leadership of the apostles. Again, Jesus had called the early disciples and apostles outside of themselves, to enter into a realm that would be very different from anything they had previously experienced. But it was the presence of the Holy Spirit working in and through the apostles and into the hearts of the Samaritan believers that broke down walls of division and prejudice. I believe that when we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit and acknowledge our prideful sin before God He can continue to break down walls of division and bring healing and wholeness to our churches and then out into our communities. The most important aspect of our change in life transformation is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and being filled with His presence to direct our steps (Ephesians 5:18).
Next week, Lord willing, we will consider Jesus’s call to Peter to go beyond himself and to go into the home of a Gentile (someplace Peter had never been before) to bear witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe the same power that was at work in breaking down the wall of separation between the Samaritans and the Jews can continue to work in and through us to use us as agents of racial reconciliation. What are some things in your life that may be holding you back from being all that the Lord Jesus Christ would have you to be? Let us bring whatever those things may be to the altar and allow the Lord Jesus Christ to speak into our hearts and lives so that we can serve Him with pure hearts and clean hands.
All for God’s glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo