Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Samaria?

“…and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Have you ever wondered why Jesus included Samaria in this text? Probably not. It is easy to assume that Jesus is simply expanding the geography of the disciples’ witness of Him. And that is true. The gospel began with the Jews but was quickly taken to the Gentiles as well. The Apostle Paul would go first to the synagogue to present the gospel to the Jews then to the Gentiles. But why did Jesus include the Samaritans? Is there some reason they are listed rather than some other nearby ethnic group or geographic direction?

Here is another thought to consider. The Samaritans were a cult arising out of Judaism. They were Jews who had intermarried with non-Jews in the eighth century BC. They also moved their worship of God from Jerusalem to Mt. Gerizim against the commands of Yahweh. They still exist today in a village called Kiryat Luza on the side of Mt. Gerizim. They are a small sect of seven hundred adherents who hold to the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. Like most cults they claim to be the true followers of Moses and the Jews returning from the Babylonian captivity brought back with them a corrupted Judaism. Most cults claim to be this pure “one true” version of the group from which they split.

To some extent Jesus was telling his disciples to carry the gospel to those from whom they were alienated, heretics of their own faith. Today Christians have the same situation with the pseudo-Christian cults. Besides the fact that they are sinners like everyone else they are also exerting great efforts to convert people to their “one true Christianity“ with “another” Jesus and “another” gospel.

They come to our doorstep with God’s Name on their lips and God’s Word in their hands. What will we do with them in our effort to reach the world with the gospel? In Jesus’ day the Jews would take the long route around Samaria to avoid the Samaritans. Today Christians don’t answer the door or say they are happy in their faith but fail to give a witness. Will we take the long route around this modern “Samaria” to avoid them as the Jews did in Jesus’ day? Or, will we face the cultists as Jesus would have us do?

Watchman Fellowship exists to guide Christians through this modern Samaria rather than around it. We publish our literature and present our seminars to help you through these difficult encounters. Contact us if you want more information.