We tend to see people in categories. Never is this really seen more than in high school. I remember the following scene from the movie Mean Girls…about the high school lunchroom…watch it below.
It’s interesting because humans naturally “group up.” We tend to gravitate toward people who are like us. In anthropology, we call that our “primary group.” It’s really okay to group into those small groups of people who are like us or have similar interests. Community actually happens because we have something in common.
The problem is when we start thinking that our group is better than all the other groups. We begin to look down on other people or even think they are less than people. When we begin to belittle their human dignity because they are different than us.
That’s a big problem, and history is full of examples of how that happens. Well…Facebook is full of examples of that. Today is an election day, and there are so many “Us vs Them” posts all over social media. That’s just one example…political parties.
The Example of Jesus
This week we talked about this topic in our student ministry. We talked about how Jesus moved the Samaritan woman (who, according to the Jewish custom of the day, he shouldn’t have been talking to) from a category to a conversation.
You see, the Samaritan woman did not fit into Jesus’ group (although Jesus had more than once broken the cultural norms). She was a WOMAN. He was a MAN. She was a SAMARITAN. He was a JEW. She was despised by society. He was considered a prophet or at least a religious teacher.
But there was something she didn’t know about Jesus when she asked him why he was talking to her. She didn’t realize that, as the MESSIAH, Jesus changes EVERYTHING.
In this case, Jesus was changing the way people see themselves and others. He changed the way the Samaritan woman viewed herself. He changed the way his disciples viewed her. He changed the way the little town of Sychar saw this woman who had been married five times (rejected by men at lest five times) and not even married to the man she was with now because, even to him, she wasn’t worth marrying.
But when Jesus came to town, he TALKED to her. He reasoned with her. And he REVEALED himself to her as the Messiah.
What does this mean for me?
For us, this means that we need to ask Jesus to change the way we view other people. Help us to move them out of a “category” of being different than we are. We need his help to take the step to initiate a conversation with someone who doesn’t necessarily “fit” into “our” group.
Imagine what the world would look like if followers of Jesus took the time to look outside their “groups” and made friends with people who were unlike them. I think it would probably look like Revelation 7:9.