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Religious Things

Religious Things

02 August 2009

Scripture:

1 Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is baptizing and making more disciples than John” 2 (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 3 So he left Judea to return to Galilee. 4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” (John 4:1-4,7 NLT)

Religion said, “Rivals – Compare and compete.” Jesus and John said, “Same team – Cooperate and complete.” (John 4:1-3)

The Pharisees made religion a competition, Pharisees against Sadducees, competing for influence among the Jews. Jesus and John refused to play the “Who’s winning?” game. John pulled the plug by saying, “He will increase and I will decrease.” Jesus left Judea and went to Galilee.

Religion said, “Foreigners – Go around and exclude.” Jesus said, “Friends – Go through and include.” (John 4:4)

Orthodox Jews were so prejudiced against Samaritans that they had to add nearly two days to the trip from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north to avoid walking on Samaritan soil. When Jesus made the same trip, he “had to go through” Samaria.

Religion said, “Sinner – Reject and ignore.” Jesus said, “Seeker – Accept and engage.” (John 4:7)

The Jewish religious customs dictated that men don’t talk to women in public, especially unmarried women, especially Samaritan women. Jesus engaged her in conversation and asked for a drink of water anyhow.

What religious lines have I drawn, what religious attitudes have I got that would make me think and act unlike Jesus?
• Do I compare and compete? Or do I cooperate and complete?
• Do I avoid and exclude? Or do I encounter and include?
• Do I reject and ignore? Or do I accept and engage?

Prayer:

Father, in me is both religion and the reality of relationship with you. Both are part of the Christian culture I operate in. Both influence my attitudes and my actions. I purpose to be more guided and prompted by the Spirit of Jesus in my heart than by the attitudes of religion. Help me to do better. Amen.

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