February 5: Invisible People

Read John 4:1-42

Every culture has its share of invisible people. They aren’t “invisible” in the sense that they can’t be seen. Instead they are observed but ignored. People view them, then they look past them. People see them with their eyes . . . right before they roll them. They are the kind others write off without a second thought.

Such people were present in Jesus’ day as well. As you read the gospels, you discover them. They become obvious through the responses of others. Tax-gatherers made up one of those groups. They were avoided by others and considered in a camp of their own. Lepers were avoided like the plague when seen. Even children seem to have been among those undeserving of public attention. But these people whom others considered invisible, Jesus saw with crystal clarity and drew close to.

John 4 records an encounter in which Jesus spent time with a “doubly invisible” person. He crossed two impenetrable boundaries in reaching out to her. First of all, this woman was a Samaritan. This was not only a region but also a spiritual understanding that represented a tainted slant of Judaism. Samaritans were “invisible” to Jews and Jews did not associate with Samaritans (v. 9).

But she also went unseen because of her gender. Men at that time would not publicly engage in conversation with women. To be sure, cross-gender relationships should be approached cautiously, but this cultural norm had more to do with the perceived value of women than with maintaining moral purity. But rather than ignoring this Samaritan woman the way others of the day would have done, Jesus engaged her in conversation. The result was her conversion and that of many in her hometown.

Who are the invisible people in your world? Who do others look past? Who have you ignored? Can you today intentionally reach out with kindness and grace to someone like that?

sbk

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