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 4:9
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. I think there’s a lot there about communication in general (I have a business interest in marketing, on multiple levels) and in sharing my faith in particular.
A lot of times it’s difficult to know how to begin to “have that conversation.”
Do you see here that “the conversation” didn’t begin with something Jesus said at all?
It began with Jesus not fitting the expectation the woman had of him, based on his social identity and standing, combined with what she’s been taught and experienced.
He busted the stereotype.
For me, there are two takeaways:
- Jesus was identifiable as a Jewish male. This is important. He wore the label, so to speak. I don’t know how she knew he was Jewish, but she did. As a Christ-follower, it’s important that I be identifiable as one, or takeaway 2 is useless. Jim Petersen calls this planting the flag and it needs to take place early in a relationship (basically, you let it be known who you belong to and then you drop the subject).
- Jesus didn’t fit the stereotype of a Jewish male (he wasn’t concerned with being seen in public with a Samaritan woman). This is also important. This is what made her sit up and take notice. Enough notice to initiate conversation with him.
You can have a jar labeled Pickles. If the only pickles you’ve ever had were dill pickles, you’d naturally assume that a jar labeled Pickles would have dill pickles in it.
Imagine your surprise when you open the lid and get your first sweet smell of bread and butter pickles. Mmmm. You can’t wait to taste them.
That’s what happens when you and I, believer, are readily identifiable as Christ-followers, but bust the stereotype.
When we don’t live down to the caricature society has of us, but live out the transformed life Christ lives in and through us.
THEN “the conversation” will get started and the adventure begins!
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. —2 Corinthians 2:14