whew what a week! there is a season for everything under the sun and this week we find ourselves in deep mourning and deep celebration. i would like to say as a nation, but i know better. we’re too divided to experience these things collectively, communally. so as i have scrolled through my social media feeds, my eyes have feasted on both heart-wrenching anguish and heart-bursting celebration, with a side of judgement smothered with condemnation and shame. and bacon. we all know bacon makes everything better!
all joking aside, i have honestly seen some of the most hateful things posted on social media today. it is not surprising, but it does make me sad. it also reminds me of how easy it is to take up residence in the seat of judgement, a throne we were never, ever, asked to fill.
i am guilty party number one. i own up to enthusiastically being first in line to occupy the throne of judgement at various stages in my life. i left a trail of broken and damaged relationships in my wake. i have worked very hard to repair those relationships over the years. yet, i am still guilty of falling prey to the lure of power and authority that comes with condemning someone for beliefs, identities, and choices that don’t align with my own. i’m from the conservative midwest, cultured in the sexist and homophobic black church. i am a work in progress.
one of my favorite stories in the bible is of the woman at the well. it is an example of established social norms, generational discrimination, sex, and power; all things that make for a very juicy story. when that samaritan woman came to the well that day to draw water, just like every other day, she had no idea she would meet someone who would change her life for eternity. she had no idea that her insignificant existence would teach us lessons about mercy, love, and salvation thousands of years later. she definitely had no idea that her story would be one of my all time favorites! we never know how important our role is in changing someone’s life. we never know how powerful our words are in shaping their destiny.
as this woman came to the well to get her water, she was interrupted by a man who had no business speaking to her. being the confident woman she was, she called him on it. “you know your peeps don’t usually talk to my kind, right?” but he was in need and she obliged. so this conversation goes on for a while and they start getting deep.
he tells her about living water, she asks him where to find it, he tells her she’s looking at it, she asks for it, and he tells her to go fetch her man and they can both have it. er? now, i’m not a minister and i didn’t go to seminary so i won’t attempt to break this down at all. just know that i have always thought is was hella odd that jesus was like, i got living water for you homie, but i need you to go get your man before i share it with you. in my mind, this is the spiritual pick up line. it was his way of establishing a line of communication that allowed him to minister to her.
once she responded about not having a husband, jesus gave her an epic read. “yeah, i know. you’ve had a few though, and that joker you’re with right now, ain’t put a ring on it. so , yeah, you’re telling the truth.” see what i mean? epic read! but her response was not the typical, how-dare-you-put-my-business-in-the-street-you-don’t-know-me response. nope. she takes in what he says, believes it, and then goes and shares it with others. she had an encounter with someone who changed her life and she wanted others to have that same encounter.
what kind of atmosphere – what kind of spirit – did jesus possess for this sinful woman to feel comfortable enough to be okay with having her soul laid bare, all her socially unacceptable, judgement-prone behaviors exposed to a stranger, who revealed himself to be the living god? what kind of restoring love and overwhelming grace flooded her spirit when she encountered him at the well? and how powerful did that experience have to be for her to go home and gather all the people she knew so they could experience it, too?
i don’t know about you but that BLOWS MY MIND. that is what i want people to feel when they encounter me. i want them to know love and grace, not condemnation and shame. i want peoples’ encounter at my well to leave them filled with hope and joy, and not pain and despair. we can debate abominations and sins all day – who’s right, what does the bible say – but at the end of the day, there were two commandments we were given and they both dealt with the condition of our own heart:
“love the lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. this is the first and greatest commandment. and the second is like it: ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”
you have no idea how liberating it is to be released from my services as judge and jury (even if it was self-appointed!). but the call to love with all that we have – mind, body, soul – is revolutionary and hard. we are adapted to loving with conditions. the samaritan woman’s encounter at the well came with one condition, that she receive.
when i think about all the many gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgendered people who are celebrating the scotus ruling today, i celebrate with them, because in the end love wins.