The enemy has been working through cultural hostilities to cause God’s people to become polarized, radicalized, politicized, and ultimately tribalized against the “Other Side.” The Gospel says, “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN” (John 3:1-5), not “YOU MUST BE ON OUR SIDE.” In these days of rage, we need to awaken to an unreached people group right in our midst, “Contemporary Samaritans.”
Thanks to the COVID pandemic, the corresponding social isolation, racial tensions, the divisive political season, and the ever-present “cancel culture,” this past season has been nothing less than a total firestorm of hostilities. America has long been the leading global exporter of pornography, and now it seems we have become the leading propagator of “outrage porn” (according to Wikipedia, “Any media or narrative that uses outrage to provoke strong emotional reactions to expand audiences”).
We know that partisan news media uses techniques to stir up outrage. Marketers have long realized that the most powerful tool at their disposal to get people interested in their sites is hostility. Anger sells, and more eyes on their pages means more advertising money in their pockets.
We hear words describing techniques to stir anger, such as “Filter Bubbles” and “Echo Chambers.” Filter bubbles use algorithms to predict what types of sites get your attention based on your digital footprint, and information gets pushed your way that confirms your existing biases. This process leads to digital “Echo Chambers,” where they consistently feed perspectives to you in order to stir up your anger. You become hardened to your point of view and angry at the other side. It is good to remember that the media that influences you does not follow the truth as much as the money.
Right in the middle of this darkness, God places His people to show His better alternative. God’s family, the church, was made for this moment. Dark times provide an opportunity for God’s people to shine as “the light of the world, a city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14-15). As Paul said, “creation is waiting eagerly for God to show who His children are..the world is confused…but they long to be set free and share the glorious freedom of His children” (Romans 8:19-22).
One of the most significant problems that prohibits the church from moving in her calling is that God’s people get caught up more in outrage than in Jesus. This causes them to move in a spirit that isn’t God’s Spirit. As they do, they miss a significant unreached people group all around them.
A Biblical Example of the problem
- Luk 9:52-56 and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. (53) But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. (54) When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (55) But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; (56) for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.
The Samaritans were descendants of two of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. They were God’s people, but when the Assyrians conquered the northern 10 tribes of Israel, they deported some while others remained in the land. The Assyrians settled their people there, and God’s people backslid into disobedience, intermarrying with Assyrians and spawning a whole alternative religion.
The Samaritans became a mixture of spiritually corrupted, backslidden Israelites, and pagan foreigners. They worshipped false gods and created a false religion for themselves that was detestable to the Jews. Like much of liberal/progressive Christianity, they drifted away from God’s design and intermarried false gods. Orthodox Jews hated them. They were “THE OTHER SIDE,” and both sides loathed each other. This hostility sounds a little like our polarized culture today.
Jesus did something interesting with His disciples. He traveled through Samaria (something orthodox Jews would not have done), as they headed towards Jerusalem to worship. Jesus took the disciples through a bunch of backslidden pagan worshippers and liberal Jewish sell-outs.
The Samaritans were angry that these Jews were going to Jerusalem to worship and would not receive them or give them a place to stay. The Samaritan outrage stirred anger in some disciples, and they wanted to nuke them all!!! “How could these backslidden liberal pagans try to keep us from worshipping the true God? DESTROY THEM!!!!!”
Jesus pointed out something critical then, as well as today, about anger, outrage, and missional opportunities,
You do not know WHAT KIND OF SPIRIT YOU ARE OF; I DIDN’T COME TO DESTROY LIVES BUT TO SAVE THEM.
When we become caught up in “OUR SIDE VERSUS THEIR SIDE,” our outrage causes us to see groups we are against rather than individuals God wants to save! The nature of God evaporates in us and leaves us with a demonic hatred that reacts, bites, and devours.
Jesus continued to show God’s heart towards the Samaritans as He encountered an immoral Samaritan woman at a well (John 4). When the disciples returned from getting food, they found Jesus speaking with this Samaritan woman (liberal, pagan worshipping, sell-out, who was also living in sin). Jesus had already dealt with them about the wrong spirit they had before, and now they were a little more discreet but still held on to their hatred, “They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, ‘Why are you talking to her’ or ‘what do you want from her’?” (John 4:27).
The Samaritan woman is an excellent example of some of the current spiritual Samaritans all around us. She was broken, in bondage, and her liberal religion offered no hope. Jesus identified her condition by the Spirit and spoke good news to her, “God is seeking people to worship Him in Spirit and Truth” (John 4:24). Hope rose in her. She was set free and evangelized other broken people with the good news Jesus had brought to her.
Example of my wife
When I met my future wife, she was an example of a contemporary liberal Samaritan. She grew up in a mainline denomination that had drifted away from orthodox Christianity. Her parents were faithful churchgoers, yet did not fully understand how liberal ideas were affecting their lineage. My wife told of a time in their “Youth Group” when the leader helped them conduct a Seance in which they contacted the dead. This abomination was the youth group activity for the evening (I still get hot when I think about it)!!!! Did I say this was a “Christian” church? This sounds like Samaritans to me.
When she went to college, it was no problem for her to eat the fruit of liberal ideas, and now she had a host of liberal professors helping her deconstruct any faith that remained. This didn’t lead to freedom, but bondage.
When I met her and began sharing the things of God, she didn’t resent it. Instead, she saw freedom in Christ that captured her. She had never even heard of being born again or filled with the Spirit. She gloriously met God, gave her life to Him, and experienced new life in Jesus.
Liberal and pagan forms of Christianity offer no hope. They leave people bound, not free. God wants to save them. Don’t succumb to a wrong spirit, weaponized by media outrage, that wants to bomb the entire group “In the name of Nationalistic Jesus.” Let’s engage them with the heart of God as Jesus did the woman at the well. Show love, listen for the Spirit and move in the power of God, who wants to save lives, not destroy them. Pray and follow Holy Spirit to make a gospel impact on contemporary Samaritans all around us.
- Ephesians 6:19 Pray that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
- Colossians 4:3 pray that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ.