God Loves the Unlikely - Do We?

When we read stories of the Good Samaritan or the conversion of Paul in the Bible, we often miss their inherent shock value to the original audience.  Paul converting would be like me telling the story of Osama bin Laden becoming a Christian and inviting you to come listen to him.  You can see why Christians were hesitant to accept him.  The Good Samaritan in modern terms would resemble a story where the pastor, the churchgoer, and the Christian book writer all passed by a hurting man on the street.  After them, along came a drug addict, a sex offender, or a gang member and they helped the hurting man that the religious people passed by.  Not only did they help him, but then shelled out the money to have them treated at the hospital.  The conversion of Paul was shocking and tough to swallow.  The story of the Good Samaritan was offensive to those ingrained in religion that focused more on rituals and keeping the law than on loving sinners and enemies.

Today I want to talk about a particular story that turned the religion of Jesus’ day upside down.  You probably already know the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. 

Before we begin, I want to point out some facts about the book of John in which this story is told.  John wrote his books later than most of the writers of the New Testament.  Most of the New Testament books were written in 50-60 AD.  It is thought that John wrote his gospel in 85 AD.  This is significant in that the stories that John told were chosen out of all of the stories he could tell to correct problems in the church.  So when we read stories in the book of John, we can see problems that were creeping into the church only fifty years after it was established. 

From the story of the woman at the well, we can see that the church was struggling with accepting the unlikely like Samaritans as equals in Christ. In today’s term the unlikely are no longer a race; they might be former or struggling drug addicts, sex offenders, drunks, the homeless, or some other person that we think God could never help.  Saying that a group of people cannot be transformed by the story of Jesus through His people living as Him is just wrong.  History reveals unlikely person after unlikely person who has surrendered their lives to Jesus. 

When I googled “God took the unlikely and made him into a servant” – I just want to note that is what I googled - I came to a page that was a former porn star who had given her life over to Jesus and was working with other porn stars to help people into a healthy relationship with God and a way out of the industry.  No matter where we are at in life, what terrible acts we have done, God offers forgiveness, reveals to us the worth He created us with, and is willing to use us to bring about His will.  No groups of people, whether they are Samaritans or Christian killers, like the stories in the Bible, or the modern day equivalents of people that society looks down on like porn stars, sex offenders, drug addicts, or whatever group of people we might hate, are too far from God to be forgiven and transformed. 

Alice Cooper was the first musician “to combine vaudeville and rock ‘n’ roll, inventing a genre that has since been emulated by such groups as KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson.”    He became a Christian in the 80s but never did the Christian music scene; he just claims to be a musician who is a Christian rather than a Christian musician.  He said in an interview, “"I've had a couple of people that were friends of mine that I've talked to that have vocally said they have [accepted Christ]. I have talked to some big stars about this, some really horrific characters ... and you'd be surprised. The ones that you would think are the furthest gone are the ones that are more apt to listen."  He also said, “"'I was one thing at one time, and I'm something new. I'm a new creature now. Don't judge Alice by what he used to be. Praise God for what I am now.'" 

As Christians and churchgoers, we have a sinful tendency to not forgive or forget people’s past, especially those in the church who might not have such a tarnished past.  We need to realize that God is a God who loves to heal the forgotten and bring the unlikely back to his purpose.  We can’t read the Gospels and avoid seeing that Jesus is for the unlikely.  The sinners.  People, if we’re honest with ourselves, like you and me.