Living With Diversity Or Dealing With Outcasts

Jesus and his followers for the next 300 years or so understood that they lived in a multi-ethnic society. They did not expect that the whole neighborhood, city, country were just like them. They had a message about how to live life in the Spirit and wanted to share it.

I grew up Methodist in a Lutheran town (pop. 1,000). We were taught there were vast differences between us. So, go figure when the first “hillbillies” moved into town. Wow, the old women started talking. (I spent time with my great-grandmother, so that’s the group I heard.)

Now, look at the New Testament. Jesus, Paul, and the rest. They dealt routinely with people from a variety of cultures. Of course, there were people who “kept to their own kind.” But not these people.

Our politicians in Washington are debating immigration again (still?). Politics is one thing, and I don’t care to discuss it. But much of the argument comes from attitude. That, I’ll discuss. They’re not like us. They speak a different language. Have a different culture. Eat different foods. We still have people who wish to keep to their own kind.

Look at the example of Jesus (recorded in John 4). In two quick stories, back-to-back, John tells about Jesus talking with a woman (gasp) alone by a well outside the city. Oops, she’s also from an outcast part of the area (Samaritan). That’s two strikes. What is he up to?

Then he stays two days in the Samaritan town. Remember, Jews at the time would walk for miles to go around the area of Samaria rather than even walk through it. Can you imagine Jesus’ disciples? What were they thinking when Jesus said, “OK, let’s spend a couple of days here.”

The very next story concerns a Roman. Even worse than a Samaritan. Jesus heals his child.

The Samaritans believed. The Roman believed. There are no comments in the text. It’s just business as usual for Jesus.

Just so for us. Many of us in the Midwest grew up in homogeneous towns. Many others grew up among the same type of people even in cities. Some still live apart from others.

Following the example of our pioneer leaders in faith, we need to learn to live with diversity. Understand that others are also human, with the same needs and desires. We all need to live in the Spirit of God.

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