A man was walking along San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge when he saw a woman standing by herself, obviously feeling lonely. He ran up to tell her God loved her. A tear came to her eye. Then he asked her, “Are you a Christian, Jew, Hindu, what?”
“I’m a Christian,” she said.
He said, “Me too! Small world.
Protestant or Catholic?”
“Me too! What denomination?”
“Me too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
“Northern Baptist.” He said,
“Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist, or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
“Northern Conservative Baptist.”
“That’s amazing! Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, or Northern Conservative Reformed Baptist?”
“Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist.”
“Remarkable! Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Eastern Region?”
She said, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region.”
“A miracle,” he said.
“Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”
She said, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”
He shouted, “Die, heretic!” and pushed her over the rail.
Miroslav Volf noted that the tendency to exclude the other, which religious leaders in Jesus’ day often regarded as great virtue, was regarded by Jesus as great sin. This often surprised the disciples.
One day on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus wanted to stop in a Samaritan village, but it was not welcoming. His disciples asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” They thought Jesus would be pleased by this offer. We’re going to take a stand. We’re going to be on Jesus’ side. Jesus’ followers sometimes think this way.
Jesus turned and admonished them. He was protecting the Samaritans and rebuking his followers. What an odd little story! In fact, the New Testament is full of these odd little Samaritan stories. Jesus befriended a five-times-married Samaritan woman, and she became a great evangelist of his. He healed ten lepers, and only the Samaritan returned to thank him. He told a story about an Israelite, a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan — and the hero is the Samaritan. — Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus by John Ortberg