As I ponder what Jesus did by going through instead of going around Samaria, I wonder what the church might look like if in addition to asking ourselves WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), we would begin asking ourselves WDJG (Where Did Jesus Go).
What would the world look like if God’s people decided that the irreligious message of Jesus demanded that they go to those who most need God’s love? What would the church look like if we chose to lay down our prejudices and headed into the places we typically walk around? What would happen if, instead of hoping that the harvest comes to us, we went to where the harvest is?
Several years ago, while pastoring in Ohio, I saw how being in what many would consider the wrong place can mean being right where the Lord wants you to be. One of my favorite eateries in our little town was a bar called Flappers. A couple of times a week I would go in for lunch. After a few months I became a regular.
After several months of building relationships and cultivating trust I was in Flappers with a pastor-friend when an elderly lady fell while getting up from her table. John and I jumped up from our meals and darted over to see if we could help. When we got to her she began to cry and started pouring her heart out to us. She was battling cancer and she was tired of fighting. She had lost her husband and she was lonely. She was embarrassed that she had fallen and wondered what everyone would think of her.
A couple of minutes into her impromptu confession she looked at John and me and said, “I don’t know why I just told you all that.” We smiled and told her that we knew why she had. We told her who we were and she was a bit surprised that two pastors were eating lunch in a bar. We told her that Jesus loved her and that He had not forsaken her in her pain and loss. She broke into a fresh stream of tears as we reminded her of His love and care. And with her still sitting on that dingy floor I asked if we could pray with her and she said yes.
I can still see the scene. Two young pastors, surrounded by the wait, kitchen and bar staff, kneeling beside of and praying for an elderly woman in a little bar called Flapper. To my surprise, all of the employees bowed their heads as we prayed and at the conclusion of our prayer they all thanked us. In that moment I knew that John and I needed to be right where we were because right where we were was right in the midst of the harvest.
So, I have to ask, where is your harvest? Who are the wrong people in your world? What prejudices or pre-judgments do you need to overcome in order to minister as Jesus did? What places do you continually walk around rather than go though? Are you; am I, willing to risk our sanitized idea of what it means to be a Christian in order to follow the example of Jesus? It just might be that the “wrong place” is the very place you need to be.