Breaking Cultural Walls

“Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” – John 4:9

There are two forms of greetings practiced by the Kamba people of Kenya, where I was raised: a verbal greeting and/or a handshake. Biological and social relationships determine which is used. It is a taboo to use the wrong form of greeting.

In greeting me, Jarra, a co-worker here in the United States, gave me a hug, and I immediately told her that I was married. I had thought that would make it clear to her that hugging was inappropriate, but she did not understand my meaning. I brought my daughter to work for Jarra to understand I was really married. She kissed my daughter and hugged me. I decided to have Jarra meet my family and she hugged all of us. Unknowingly, Jarra had broken down cultural “walls” and opened a new channel of thinking for me.

The woman in our focus verse asserted that Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. They were not to share a drink out of the same cup or well. Jesus’ disciples marveled that He would break with tradition. What was He after and why would He talk to the woman? Their reaction was probably much the same as mine when Jarra hugged me.

However, as a result of Jesus’ visitation with that woman, she received salvation and inner peace and wanted all the inhabitants of her city to have the same thing.

What would have happened had Jesus not taken the initiative? That woman who had a heavy burden, having been married five times, would not have had the hope of eternal life. Historians indicate that such a woman was not respected in her community. However, after her encounter with Jesus and her past was revealed, she had the courage and motivation to stand in public and declare, “Is not this the Christ?” The Bible says, “Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him.”

By taking the initiative, Jesus lifted the burden from this woman, restored her respect, and created an opportunity for a city of Samaritans to hear His message of salvation.

When we consider reasons not to help out or reach out, this prevents us from helping to lift the burdens of other people. Today, let’s purpose to share the joy of the Lord —even if that means we need to break through cultural, racial, religious, educational, or economical “walls.” Let’s help restore hope, and healing, to those in need!