Ancient Israel was divided into three regions. In the north, there was Galilee, where Jesus spent a lot of his time in ministry, and to the south there was Judea, which is where Jerusalem and the temple resided. In the middle was Samaria, whose name literally means “watch-mountain” or “watch-tower.” Although Samaria was a natural bridge between Galilee and Judea, Orthodox Jews avoided the region since to them, it was pagan and unholy.
Rather than interact with this sect, Hebrew travelers would add days to their journey from north to south just to avoid them. Except Jesus. On several occasions, our Savior purposefully traveled through Samaria, at one point even stopping at a water well to talk to a Samaritan woman. This intentional interaction makes it clear that the Lord had a heart for this region and its people, because He loves to ascribe dignity to the outcast, even if He doesn’t approve of their actions.
You see, friend, when people have adopted a lifestyle that you know is wrong or unholy, it doesn’t mean you should stop interacting with them or loving them. Like Jesus, you can march confidently into Samaria and show love, compassion and empathy to sinners without worrying that their choices will somehow “get on you.” Ascribing dignity to others where they’re at is the first step in softening their hearts and opening their eyes to the goodness of Jesus. Choose to love Samaritans and sinners and you will become a force of healing in a divided world.