Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21–24 NLT)
In his first talk during the 2021 Triennial, Efrem Smith taught on this interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Examining this exchange at Jacob’s well, he spoke about how Jesus became a guest and a servant in our world. In a sense, the way Jesus interacted with the Samaritan woman was a microcosm of his mission on earth and how he interacted – and continues to interact – with our world and those of us who inhabit it. As Efrem Smith put it, “God, in Jesus, cuts the distance between God and broken people.”
Because God is Spirit, any attempts to cut the distance would necessitate God initiating the relationship. Put in simple terms, the incarnation is the ultimate cross-cultural interaction. On our own, we cannot bridge this gap between the realm of flesh and bone and the world of the spirit. We have a better chance of traveling to the moon on a bicycle. Since we could not enter into God’s space, he came into ours. Jesus “gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:7).
If we are to be like Jesus – if we are orienting our lives around following his example and acting as he would were he in our shoes – then we too must live cross-cultural lives. Sometimes this means opening up our lives to people from different countries or ethnicities, of different ages, or who have different backgrounds or experiences than our own. More often, though, it simply means serving as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, living in such a way that those around us can’t help but notice we are different than the majority of the culture. This means we must, like Jesus, choose to be with people.
In what ways are you serving cross-culturally, allowing yourself to be a guest and a servant? How are you serving as God’s ambassador in this world?