Goodwill to Men…Crossing the Bridge with Susan and Andy

He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:16-19 NIV 

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
John 4:9 NIV 

As we celebrate this Christmas season, we would all do well to ponder “goodwill to men.” 

Merriam-Webster defines goodwill as a kindly feeling of approval and support:  benevolent interest or concern” It is also defined as “willing effort.”

In one of our Friday letters on race,Tom who blogs over at realchange4u reminded me about the relationship between the Jews and Samaritans.

“Relationship” may be an overstatement because the Jews did not mingle with Samaritans.

Yet, Jesus went about “doing good” and regularly connected with those who were considered the fringes of society. Swearing fishermen, tax collectors, crippled beggars, and the infamous woman at the well were just a few.

Jesus made a “willing effort” to minister to those unlike himself.

“But He needed to go through Samaria.” John 4:4 NKJV

Jesus did not confine himself to “Jews like him.” He did not segregate Himself the way many of us intentionally and often unintentionally tend to do.

 “And he was a Samaritan.” This account of Jesus healing the lepers is miraculous without these five words.

However, I believe these words were included to demonstrate that Jesus did not differentiate between the Samaritan and the Jews. I suspect there is an even greater message in the fact that only the “foreigner” returned to thank Him!

The divide between people will only close when people choose to close it. Doing this requires a conscious decision act differently. It demands a willingness to renew the mind daily and submit to the Holy Spirit.

I would have missed out on so many blessings had I not been receptive to the kindness of people unlike myself.

We tend to prematurely judge people based on what we learn from family and friends, or worse, misinformation in the media. Our personal experiences either affirm or defy our preconceived notions.

Still, when we broaden our vision and view people as God sees them, we can acknowledge each person’s individual merit instead of categorizing someone and hastily applying a label.

If we remain stubborn and defy the Holy Spirit we will always miss out on God’s best. Our blessings are often disguised in the people we would least expect to deliver them.

goodwill-to-men-12-2016-b-is-for-blessed-devotional This Christmas, don’t speak of “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” but live it.

May we be peacemakers, willing to extend ourselves beyond our usual boundaries. May we make the effort to connect with others. Those first tentative steps may very well bridge the gap between where we are and the blessings we seek!

And speaking of bridges, Susan, Andy Oldham and I will continue our conversations into the New Year under a new category titled Bridges.

It is our desire to include more people and topics in our conversations. We welcome your comments and are grateful to you who have joined us on this journey. If you care to contribute a post please let us know! Andy adds his voice to the conversation next Friday and we will begin anew in January.

As this year ends, may we all give glory to God in the highest, promote peace on earth and extend goodwill toward men.

Merry Christmas!

31 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this Lilka. I always appreciate how Jesus pretty much went out of his way to break down prejudices. And love how the one person healed came back to say thanks was “And he was a Samaritan”. So very precious.

    God bless. Trust you are well Lilka! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jesus loves all people…in that, we should also love all people. Jesus did not approve of everything people did, and in that, we cannot approve of all the things people do either. But we lead others by examples of a Godly life. The “judging” part will be left to Jesus on that final day…

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great insights here, Lilka. As all have said here, so needed today.

    I think it’s instructive that Jesus went out of His way to love the marginalized, the hated, and demonized by His culture. Like the healed Samaritans, these were the people who truly were grateful and receptive of what Jesus came to bring. Conversely, a religious spirit does not receive these things. The Pharisees didn’t receive grace from Jesus because they didn’t show any grace toward others.This should also be instructive to us.Not that God is withholding grace from us, He loves unconditionally. But that we are the one’s resisting His grace and, thereby, hurting others.

    The bottom line is, the proof that we truly know God is by our love for others, including our enemies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your last sentence pretty much says it all Mel.

      Just as we are commanded to forgive as we have been forgiven much, we should extend grace as it has been extended to us by our Father.

      If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21

      Like

  4. Yes and Amen. Broaden our Vision and open our minds. Be receptive to all people or as much as humanly possible. God has been speaking that wisdom to my heart for several years. Many of my co-workers are Muslim. Good. Hard working. People. Emphasis on the word people. Not the labels the media or society places upon folks with different belief systems. Over the years I’ve worked as a museum security guard I’ve developed close relationships with many Muslim Ladies. God showed me that we are more alike than different. We have the same hopes, dreams and goals in life. We laugh, cry, pray and serve. Many of the Women have called me Sister.

    Recently one pregnant young Muslim woman has confided in me the poor treatment she receives from certain Christians. Why?

    As she is young enough to be my daughter I treat her as my child. She is grateful for my kindness and compassion. How could I be anything but Love to her. This young lady carries a new life within her. A baby girl. A Baby Girl who deserves to be born into a world into our country America where she is not despised or hated because she follows Islam. As Corrie Ten Boom took in persecuted Jews during World War Two I will continue to defend and protect my Muslim Sisters as best I can.

    We are All ~~ People of the Book ~~ Children of Abraham.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen! I don’t see any adjectives that God used to specify which people to love. When we do our part, loving our neighbors, perhaps the Love shown to them will make the receptive (and not defensive) to more of God in their lives. Hate never heals, only destroys. When we are obedient, doing all we can, it creates an atmosphere for God to do what we can not. There are too many Christian “Sauls” who have yet to transform into “Paul” Thanks so much for once again joining the conversation. Peace to you and B Blessed!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Extremely well-written! It makes your reader(s) think and take-notice of their own lives. (we seldom ‘STOP’ log enough to evaluate ourselves ~ we allow Satan to keep us too busy ad distracted by trivial things that just won’t matter in the end.

    Jennifer Lewis

    http://www.jenniferkaylewis.com (Kindly, consider leaving me a comment and/or a like)

    “Thank You!!”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree that distractions by trivial things steal time from us to pursue more eternal matters. Human nature has us evaluate/criticize others far quicker than we would ever look in the mirror and see the truth about ourselves. Thanks for stopping by today and joining our conversation!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Excellent post! I have written about our divisions, even those within the church as our denominations can divide us and separate us from one another! It does begin with us as individuals to reach out to one a other! Thank you for sharing your walk of faith!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much Rick for joining us! Yes divisions among God’s people even within the “church” can be just as divisive and destructive as racism. Many have been hurt and even left the faith due to man’s dogma, not God’s. We can allow small matters to separate us even as we all strive to see the larger message of Christ Jesus.
      B Blessed and thanks for joining the conversation. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Lord let this message go forth and burn deep into the hearts of all people.Father help us to hear the call,pastor’s and lay people alike. Call us to prayer that we would know your love for all mankind. As Pete said now is the time to answer this call.Give life to the dry bones and let them rise up as one in Christ Jesus and we will proclaim the name of Jesus through out the world.

    Blessings Lilka to you and your family

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “Still, when we broaden our vision and view people as God sees them, we can acknowledge each person’s individual merit instead of categorizing someone and hastily applying a label.” So true, Lilka. If we close ourselves off to entire groups of people, we not only close ourselves off to those blessings, but we disobey God in the process.

    We must turn our eyes and hearts back to Jesus, to the One who commanded us to love each other.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. If we would but obey that second command to love one another, how much better would we be. Disobedience has led to the mayhem in which we now exist. You are so correct that we must turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus in all areas of our lives and not just “selectively” at our own convenience.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Reblogged this on Susan Irene Fox and commented:

    “This Christmas, don’t speak of “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” but live it.” Lilka’s wise words once again call us to unity rather than division. I pray you will read her words with an open heart and let the Spirit open your eyes to the many blessings before you.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Thank you for being a part of the Bridges Community. This s such an essential thing in our environment today, and I believe will lead us to better fulfill the call of 2 Chronicles 7:14. It takes a humbling of ourselves to realize we need to change in order to fully empathize with people who are different than us. I have problems in this area and that is why I want to participate in Bridges – to learn and to grow in Christ’s love. The call is to the church, and I believe now is the time. Be nlessed

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree there is a call to the church now more than ever. We can remain complacent or facilitate change as we obey God’s command to love our neighbor. Pride will always obscure our vision but when we make the effort to love like Christ and not just meander along is when we really live as God intended. B Blessed Pete and thank you so much for adding your voice to ours!

      Liked by 4 people

  11. I love what you said about being stubborn in our lives. We don’t stop to think that when we defy the Holy Spirit it is because we are stubborn to not only accept God’s will for and ourselves and others but to accept His leading. I look forward to our conversations each Friday Lilka. Blessings to you and your family this Christmas.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If find that when I am stubborn I remain in situations that are frustrating until I humble myself and allow God to guide me. We claim to follow Christ but often to refuse to obey and expect a good outcome. I am looking forward to our future conversations as well. May we be peacemakers this Christmas and beyond. Merry Christmas Andy to you and your family. Enjoy the blessings of the season 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

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