“The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” –John 4:9-10
There can be many reasons why it is difficult to be a peacemaker. One of those is we tend to divide ourselves into small groups and see our differences as our only defining traits. At times, we only see our racial differences, our cultural differences, our religious differences, or our economic differences and we allow them to determine how we look at other people. When we dwell on our differences we can miss out on opportunities to be a peacemaker, while making special connections, and friendships from the rich diversity of people in God’s kingdom.
The story of the woman at the well in John’s gospel demonstrates the importance of being willing to be a peacemaker with people who are different than ourselves. John tells us that Jesus is resting from His travels at a well. While He was there a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well. Jesus asked her for a drink. Her reply in John 4 shows the great division between the Jews and Samaritans. She did not offer him a drink, instead, she replies, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” In that moment, where so many possibilities existed, the woman did not see any commonalities, only differences.
Thankfully, the story does not end with her question. Jesus continues to talk with her and her time with Jesus becomes a life-giving and life-defining moment for her. Her life was blessed because they did not allow their differences to define their interaction and end their relationship before it even began.
As a lover of Jesus, we want to be known for genuinely loving people first, not for dismissing people in favor of our own opinions or needs. Listening can bring us together and help us to offer a bit more empathy, compassion, and healing to each human story we engage with. Listening well makes us better spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, and leaders. Maybe we won’t always see eye-to-eye, and that’s OK but, hopefully, if we listen a little more, we can become better peacemakers by overcoming our differences.
I wonder how often we miss out on special moments in our lives because we don’t engage with other people who are different from us. There is real value in our differences.
- How should we view our differences?
- Are there any situations in your life this week where you can be a peacemaker?