samariaImmediately before his ascension, Jesus said this to his disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

It’s usually easiest to love those in Jerusalem and Judea. These are our neighbors– the people who are like us in culture, values, language, etc. It’s also relatively easy to love people at the ends of the earth. They’re far away– we can send them things and feel good about it. We can go to visit for brief periods to help them. But the physical distance and their “otherness” keeps them at a safe distance from us personally.

It’s the Samaritans that present the real challenge to most of us. Nearby, but different from us culturally. They may speak our language, but they don’t usually share our values or perspective.  We may not want our kids to play with their kids for fear of a “bad influence.” We may not approve of their lifestyle. We may simply not like them.

It’s those from Samaria who are the hardest to love. It’s easier to love people across the ocean than those on the other side of the tracks. There’s less history there. Consider yourself. Consider your church. Who are you neglecting? Who are your Samaritans; where is your Samaria?

The Community Transformation discipleship guide helps people make a difference where they live, engaging in personal involvement with others to facilitate positive change in our communities and beyond. Purchase the guide here.