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!