Unacceptance – it’s an ugly word. Just the sound of it conjures up images of anger, hatred, distrust. Differences scare us, and people who aren’t like us make us uncomfortable. Status quo is comfortable, but One came to shake up the parameters of our comfort zones.
The heat was almost unbearable. Normal, acceptable women would have gone to the well in the early morning light. They, who had their houses in order, wouldn’t be embarrassed to show their faces at the well. They, who were dutiful wives or daughters, could hold their heads high. They, who followed the law, could share the latest gossip as they drew water from the well. But she…. she wasn’t normal. She wasn’t acceptable – or accepted. She wasn’t a dutiful wife. She didn’t follow the law. She was alone.
And so she trudged up the hill on the dusty, gritty path. Sweat trickled down her body, and tears streamed down her cheeks, as she walked with her eyes downcast. Her mind wandered as she walked. She didn’t intend for her life to turn out like this. Why, when she was a child, she scampered gaily to the well with the accepted ones. She dreamt of marriage and children. Now, she merely survived. One day turned into the next, and they were all the same. Lonely… Oh, she was so ecstatic with her first marriage! That is, until he blackened her eye for burning the bread. That was the first of many episodes, and she slowly began withdrawing from the accepted ones. She knew they talked. She had heard the whispers as she walked by. When he divorced her, she married the first man who came to her. She had no choice! It was either marry, or…. She didn’t even want to ponder her fate if she hadn’t married.
The second marriage was even worse. He had a propensity for young girls, and hid nothing from her. Their marriage was a farce, a front for his unnatural desires. He even expected, no, demanded that she participate! When she refused, he divorced her. And so it went, each marriage worse than the previous one. She deserved it, she supposed. After all, women were mere possessions. She was flawed, and she knew it. So did everyone else. She no longer cared. She was a realist. The man she was living with had no desire to marry her, nor she him. He provided a roof over her head and food on the table. He kept her from living the life of a prostitute, although she was called that by the accepted ones.
As the well came into sight, so did a man. A man! Fear leapt into her heart, for this was no ordinary man. This was a Jew! And she was a Samaritan. A man AND a Jew! Even for her, this was unacceptable. What should she do? No one else would be near the well at this time of the day. As questions flew through her mind, He spoke. He spoke! To her – a fallen, unaccepted Samaritan woman!
“I’m tired and thirsty. Would you be so kind as to draw me some water?”
Puzzled, thinking the hot sun must have muddled her mind, she stated the obvious.
“You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan. You are asking me for a drink?”
And now the real story begins. Little did she know that her life was about to change. She was going to be changed from unaccepted to accepted – by Christ. Her former things would be thrown away. She was about to become new. But she didn’t know, yet…
To her amazement, this man spoke of Living Water, and never thirsting again! And He knew her – He knew about her marriages. He knew about her sinful life, and still he spoke to her. It was amazing! For the first time in her life, she felt love – pure love! And acceptance! She felt free; she WAS free! Free from the bonds of sin, free from unacceptance, free from being used, free from gossiping women, free!!
Can you imagine that freedom? How many of us carry feelings of unacceptance? Society mandates that we must dress a certain way, look a certain way, approve of certain things. But Jesus Christ makes us free from all of that. John 8:38 says, “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” Did the Samaritan woman still struggle with sin? The Bible only tells us that she was a witness to her community. I dare say that she still had the same temptations, but there was a difference. She was free and forgiven. She was accepted into His kingdom. And so are we who are in Christ Jesus.