Read John 4
Focus on verse 9
Cultural barriers have been an issue for humanity probably back to about the tower of Babel in the Old Testament, or perhaps ever beyond that. A cultural barrier occurs when the differences in the way one group of people process their relationships and world views is so different from that of another group of people, that it becomes impossible for accurate communication to take place.
In the days before people traveled globally as easily as we do now, the opportunities for clashes of cultures seemed to be less frequent, though when they did occur they tended to be more violent. In our current age there seems to be a deliberate push toward globalization by some world leaders with the intention of bringing the world together. One of the chief obstacles that stand in the way of this utopian dream are cultural barriers that cause conflict between groups and nations of people because we are different. While it is not a bad idea to attempt to cross cultural boundaries, it is vital that this is done with respect for the culture into which a person penetrates.
In today’s reading Jesus does something no other Jewish rabbi would have done. He purposely journeys into Samaritan territory, and then to add insult to injury, talks to a Samaritan woman! This is so out of character for a Jewish person the woman actually asks Him about it.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
In the conversation that follows, Jesus not only breaks down the cultural barrier that existed between Jews and the Samaritans, He also crossed the prejudicial barrier that existed between men and women in that culture. It would have been surprising enough for Jesus to talk with a Samaritan man. For him to talk with a Samaritan woman was beyond surprising, particularly in light of how respectfully He treats her.
This is the beauty of the message that Jesus brought to humanity – it is not bound by cultural or prejudicial barriers. The hope and life that Jesus offers us transcends all the man made rules that we adhere to within the protective cultural barriers we have erected. As we submit ourselves to His authority, in our personal lives, He makes it possible for us to have positive meaningful relationships across even the most significant cultural boundaries because we have a common love and submission to Christ.