I’m going to be straight with you: nothing of eternal import follows.
I get these odd spirituality-related thoughts that will never improve lives. My first wife* has little patience with my non-salient rumination, preferring to stick with matters that help us know God more intimately and – in her mind – relevantly.
*First out of one.
I suppose some frivolous questions can lead us to newer thoughts and perspectives, which in turn helps us grasp deeper issues. And then there’s the stuff I bring up to Wife while she’s netflixing.
Does Mark 8: 28 imply Jews believed in reincarnation? Did viruses exist before the fall, and if so, did they mutate at times like they do today, post-fall? Is it redundant to call someone a godless pagan, or does “pagan” imply the lack of a god? How would we understand the phrase “in the fullness of time” if half of humanity lived on that planet next to the black hole in “Interstellar”? And don’t get me started on the question of feline scientific worldviews.
Recently Wife read to me from Acts 8 about Simon and Peter in Samaria. A debate ensued, complete with thoughtfulness, discussion, and kicking. A leftover thought arose that evening as I was icing a bruise: Acts 8 comes before chapters 10 and 11.
Simon the Magician bedazzled in Samaria, yet Peter was there preaching to them in chapter 8. Philip labored in Samaria as well. The disciples and the early church traveled to Samaritan towns deliberately to share the gospel.
Much later – 2843 words later, according to my translation – the church came to grips with the fact that Gentiles could be saved.
My Sunday School teachers explained to us years ago that Jews hated Samaritans more than church kids hated Wednesday night adult choir practices that resulted in supper at 9:00 pm. The Samaritans were Jewish half-breeds, worshipped on the wrong mountain, and fought against the Maccabees. They once scattered bones in the Temple during Passover and may have massacred a group of Galileans during Christ’s childhood.
Why then did the disciples have no trouble visiting the hated Samaritans but drew the line at evangelizing the uncircumcised yet largely innocent Gentiles? Weren’t the Samaritans worse than Gentiles, collaborators with the enemy and possessed of mixed blood? Practicers of the sort of idolatry that lost the Jews their nation in the first place?
Sure, Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman so perhaps the disciples drew a lesson from Him. He healed a Roman and a Phoenician as well; miracle-receiving Gentiles outnumbered Samaritans 2-to-1 but it had no appreciable impact on the disciples’ evangelism philosophy.