Go Through the Hard Places

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

I truly believe that when God wants you to know something He will bang you on the head until you get it.  Lately I have had a similar message from God:  Go to the hard places.

At Breakforth, Albert Tate, of Fellowship Monrovia in California, opened the conference with a message on the Woman at the Well.  We laughed and we cried and we were convicted by the Spirit on his message.  But the part of the message that really stuck with me, and I wrestled with, was the information about Samaria.

Samaria was the central region of Palestine between Judaea and Galilee.  It was the heart of the kingdom of Israel until the Assyrian conquest.  The Jews did not consider them pure blooded but diluted as the remnant of the Israelites left behind intermarried with other groups that relocated there.  They believed in God and used a version of the Pentateuch as their sacred writings.  However, they did not worship at the Temple but at Mt. Gerizim.  The Jews really did not like them because of this and many other reasons.  Albert Tate explained that the feelings and belief were bad that the Jews would go around Samaria just to avoid dealing with them.

However, Jesus did not avoid going through Samaria.

When Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard he was making and baptizing more disciples than John (though Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were),  he left Judea and went again to Galilee.  He had to travel through Samaria; John 4:1-4 CSB

Did you read that?  Jesus "had to travel through" to get to where He was going.  He didn't go around. He didn't by-pass it.  He entered into the place that was undesired, hard, and dangerous to do ministry.  In his message, Albert Tate states that that is what we are to do as Believers.  We are called to enter into the hard places, the uncomfortable places..."When we follow Jesus, we go through Samaria, we have the hard conversations"  We don't go around and avoid the hard things.

You can see why I am wrestling with this idea.  However, God didn't just leave me with that message probably because He knew I didn't quite get what He wanted me to know.  As we travel through Luke as a congregation, we hit the Luke 4:14-30.  As we were going through the verses I pulled out my phone....No I did not check Facebook....and opened my Logos app.  I then opened one of my Study Bibles.  The verse that hit me right away was verse 14.

Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity.  Luke 4:4 CSB

It seems simple enough but here is what the Faith Life Study Bible says about verse 14:  "Galilee  Jesus begins His mission in the most ethnically and culturally diverse portion of Israel.  The rest of the Jewish people viewed  Galilee as only moderately Jewish.  Jesus begins where He is most needed - among the marginalized."

Remember where Samaria was and remember where Galilee was...if not here is a map

Jesus didn't go around Samaria.  He went through it.  He didn't start his ministry off in Jerusalem where some might expect him too.  He started it in Galilee.  Both these places were not places that an upstanding young Jewish teacher would want to be.  It was the place that people looked down on.  It is the places that we would think would be dirty and dangerous....think skid row or the ghetto or the low income housing in your neighbourhood or city.  This is where Jesus went and these are the places we are called go.

We as believers :

1.  Need to go to these hard and undesirable places because that is where Jesus would have gone and these are the places that Jesus needs to be.  These are the places that the broken and the hurting need redemption and true healing.  They need help.  I wold encourage you to enter into the places that make you feel uncomfortable.  It can be as easy as going up to the least desirable person at church and talking to them.  Finding out about them.  It doesn't have to be hard and you might even meet a new member of your family.  One of my dearest friends is a person that we all just didn't want to talk to.  We were prideful and he made us uncomfortable.  He is amazing man of God who had some amazing insights.  See when we leave our status quo what we find.; and

2.  There are hard places in relationships we need to go into.  We can't skirt around issues and we can't avoid people.  This causes tension and dissension in the body of Believers (believe me I know).  We need to stop placating people and calling them on things.  We also have to own up to our part of disagreements.  Jesus never avoided an argument.  He entered into the uncomfortable conversations that people didn't want to have.  Look at the rest of John 4 and you only have to see the conversation that He had with the Samaritan woman.  Through His honesty and grace and entering into her hard places, she saw Him for who He truly was and she then went off to become an evangelist for Him.  Wouldn't it be amazing that the people we have hurt or have been hurt by could become our greatest cheerleaders.

So you can see, when God wants to let you know something.  He will.  I am going to be entering into some hard places that the non confrontational Michelle wants to avoid.  Through His peace and grace and wisdom, I am trusting Him to lead me and be with me in those hard places.

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