When we consider loving others, our minds can easily be drawn to loving those around us. We may find our focus on loving those we come in contact with on a regular basis. They are the people in our circle, so to speak. And some of those people, even though they are around us, can be really challenging to love. It could take all you have to simply tolerate them, much less love them. And we hear Jesus teaching us to love one another. So we think he is probably pushing us to consider loving this person that really grates on our last nerve. But what if that is only scratching the surface of the type of love he is describing? What if that is just the beginning and we have considered that the ultimate? What if we are missing what it really means to love our neighbor because we get hung up on the people that we struggle to spend five minutes with.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the one of the woman at the well. She is struggling. She is seeking, even if she doesn’t realize it. She is searching to be seen and loved. She meets Jesus. Jesus isn’t like her. He isn’t from her group, her tribe. He is a man. He is a religious teacher. He is everything that she is not. And so there is no good reason for Jesus to see her, much less talk to her. But Jesus goes beyond both – he sees her, he talks to her, he loves her. He sees her value and her worth. He offers her all she is seeking and more. He offers her life.
The key for me is this woman is not at all in Jesus’ circle. She is from a different region. She is among the despised. She is a woman with a questionable reputation. She would be anything but his neighbor. We might think that Jesus should worry about loving the 12 knuckleheads he called to follow him, and that would be challenging enough. But Jesus sees this woman and loves her. Oh, he loves the 12, but doesn’t stop there. So why should we?
It just might be that Jesus is calling us beyond our circle. To love others may be a call to love those not like us. It might be that loving others is a call to love those that don’t look, behave or believe like us. These might be just the people we are called to love. Who is outside your circle that you can begin to love?
5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
Photos included in Devotions are captured by David Cain – The Cain Gallery. Photos are available for sale by contacting The Cain Gallery