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Stop stereotyping!

By Emily Owen

Being approached by a stranger can be really awkward. You don’t know whether to avoid eye-contact, pretend that you haven’t noticed them, or maybe just run away. I always try and cross the road if a stranger walks towards me with a clipboard wearing a brightly coloured raincoat looking like they want something from me.

I wonder what the Samaritan woman, in John chapter 4, thought when Jesus started talking to her at the well? Was she confused as to why this stranger wanted to talk to her? Was she scared? Did she try and ignore him, maybe she tried to cross to the other side of the street to find a different well.

My guess is that she was pretty surprised. Jesus wasn’t just a stranger, he was a Jew. Jew’s and Samaritans never mixed, let alone held casual conversations in the middle of the day when most normal people would be resting indoors avoiding the midday heat. However, I think the unexpectedness of the situation is one of the reasons that she stuck around to hear him out – I’m also sure that Jesus was pretty good at interesting conversation too.

Whatever her reaction was to Jesus, this unexpected encounter teaches us a few key things a evangelism.

1. Stop stereotyping.

If Jesus had looked at the woman and thought, ‘she’ll never speak to me, she’s a Samaritan’, then their conversation would never have happened. Have you ever thought of a friend and decided that their lifestyle doesn’t suit being a Christian. We need to break away from stereotypes to see people as individuals. The Samaritan woman had a pretty bad reputation, having had multiple husbands but Jesus saw past that, he didn’t care about her reputation he just cared about her heart.

Have you ever thought of a friend and decided that their lifestyle doesn’t suit being a Christian. We need to break away from stereotypes to see people as individuals.

2. Stop planning.

What I love about this story is that Jesus was super tired. He stopped for a rest and ended up seizing an opportunity. I’ve made plans to take friends to church when I know that the ‘good’ worship band is playing and that the talk will be exciting, but that isn’t how it works. Jesus met the woman in the heat when he was probably not looking his best after walking across the desert. But he still just went for it.

There’s no such thing as being ‘evangelistically prepared’ or finding the ‘ideal location’ to introduce someone to God. We need to be ready to share our faith with others at all times, even if that’s when we’re hot, sweaty and tired after trekking through a desert…

3. Stop worrying.

When I read this story I think, it’s easy for Jesus to evangelise – look who he is!! He already knows everything about this woman so of course he’s going to know what to say. We need to remember that if we believe in Jesus, then we too have God’s power in us. We don’t need to be scared about sharing Jesus with others. If God provides us with the opportunity to tell someone else about Him, He will help us through it.

In approaching the Samaritan woman, Jesus shows us that we don’t need to be afraid of sharing Him with those who believe something different to us. By reaching out to the unexpected we show that Jesus’ love is for everyone.

The Author
Emily dreams of being paid to travel the world writing about the amazing things that God is doing along the way... between making that dream a reality and working as a fundraiser she can be found trying to get better at running or shopping in charity shops.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.