Neighbors Week 1
Today we are starting a series of messages- That we are going to call, “Won’t you be my Neighbor?
I don’t know about you but there are definitely times that it is easier just to live inside the 4 walls that makeup my house. I can look at it as if I am in complete control and no one can make me do things, I can have that gratification of thinking I am in complete control. Guess what though, that is not how it works. God has called us to live in community, he created us for himself.
So lets look briefly at a coupe of items before we get in to what I would consider the call we see in the Bible to be neighbors.
One hope of the Gospel is that of a City of God on earth. The Master who gave men this hope charged men to seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. He expected his people to adjust life on the basis of God’s purpose and to set about the work of building a Christian society. Therefore we ought to expect that the city where we live will through the grace of Christ be transformed into a City of God; and we work, and we ought to teach men to work, that this great purpose may be realized.
There are many people in the churches who have vision and aspiration and really want to serve the community. But many do not know what is involved in a single question; they do not know where to begin and how to take hold. Other persons are looking for a task that has some honor but no hard work
hoping that some day they may be given a plan that is guaranteed to solve all problems and save the world overnight, without any one lifting a burden or carrying a cross.
The City of God must be built within men, in their minds and hearts and wills, before it can ever be a visible city on earth. That city must be an ideal, a passion, a religion, a cause that claims men’s uttermost devotion, before it can be an actuality of streets and homes and people.
Man is social by nature, lets look at how this Pandemic has caused us to be isolated from what would in many times be our neighbors, that sense of community.
The experiences of the world tend to drive us together, to unite us. We see this in conflict, when we unite to battle a common enemy, we see this when we work together to conquest nature, we saw this in response to tragedy, consistently we are driven together...towards one another.
instinct for fellowship;
a consciousness of kind;
the advantages that are found in cooperation.
Too often the cities have been built by men of force and greed, and too often they have been ungodly and murderous things, destroying at once the physical and moral life of people.
The time has come for the men and women of God will to break this tradition and set to work to lay the streets in wisdom and to build the walls in love, that way the City of God may appear on earth
In the book of Genesis we see that the history of man began in a garden,
8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had formed.
but in the book of Revelation we see what is yet to come, we see the vision of a city-
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
What an amazing thing we start in the Garden with the fall and we see a new beginning, where everything is Holy, everything is right. Why is this important, just as individually we are to over time live lives that closely resemble Jesus’, when we live in community we can see the towns and cities in which we live transformed in to something that more closely resembles the New Jerusalem.
That is tough, that is weighty. It is so hard to imagine in a day like today where we celebrate sin, where we defile or bodies and think nothing of it, where we prioritize “me” over God.
It is so complicated,
so what does new Jerusalem look like?
In this City men and women serve God
they see his face
men and women reign with Christ forever and ever
We hold fellowship with God
in this City we live life with one another.
no one goes hungry
no one is marginalized
there is nothing to hurt us or scare us
our doors will not need to be locked at night
In that City our strengths will be used for the good of all.
All the treasures of the City will be accessible to all no matter what our nationality is or our stature in society
I think this is a good for us to stop for a second and pray,
Father God- we love you
We ask that you guide us
That we humble ourselves
That we put you first,
That we submit to what you have for us.
We cast our cares on you to get us closer to where you want us to be.
We love you, we thank you for all that you have given us, all that you provide, for your grace
So how do we do that? How are we going to be better neighbors?
We are going to shift gears here and look at one of Jesus Parables, it is probably one that you have heard many times. The Parable of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37
25 Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the law?” he asked him. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.” 28 “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus took up the question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. 34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”
I don’t know about you but I think that we could definitely use some more people that share the spirit of the Good Samaritan, and it should really be seen in each of our lives.
The setting, like most stories that we read from the Bible it is always good to have an understanding of the setting, we need to know what context the story is told in
We have a lawyer who is an expert in the law of Moses is asking Jesus a question, to test him.
What do I have to do to have eternal life?
Jesus asks him, what is written in the law?
What does it say to you?
The lawyer says “you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself. Jesus responds saying that is correct, Do this and you will live. But the lawyer wanted to question who is a neighbor.
In this passage, Jesus is not discussing how to be saved, but wants the lawyer to see a heart attitude issue. He thought that keeping the law was the most essential issue, but using a simple story, Jesus shows him that it’s a matter of the heart.
So who are the characters in this story?
The religious passers by
Now lets look at the characteristics of the Good Samaritan
- He opened his eyes
all three physically saw the wounded man, only the Samaritan looked and stopped to help.
Before we can meet needs, we must be aware of them.
- He opened his heart
The difference between the priest and the Levite’s gaze and the Samaritan’s was compassion.
The Samaritan saw the helplessness and suffering of the dying man, and his heart went out to him.
Even though he knew that pausing on this dangerous road could result in being attacked and robbed himself, his compassion overruled his caution.
Instead of being preoccupied with his own safety, he focused on the suffering of another.
- He opened his hands
The Samaritan didn’t just feel sorry for the wounded man, he relieved his suffering by pouring oil and wine on his wounds and bandaging them.
But if he had just treated the wounds and left him on the road, it wouldn’t have been much help.
Better yet the Samaritan didn’t leave him behind, but got him onto his donkey, took him to the nearest inn, and took care of him.
- He opened his purse
Because the Samaritan was on a journey, he needed to keep going to his destination even though the injured man needed time to recover.
Instead of simply leaving, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper to look after him.
Then he promised to return and repay him for whatever more he had to spend for this man’s care.
- He opened his schedule
The Samaritan was willing to have his journey interrupted to offer aid to helpless man.
He put his journey on hold for a while in order to do that which was more important—show compassion and care to someone in need.
What we see here in the good Samaritan is a real Christlike attitude.
Even Today we have opportunities to be good Samaritans,
We have to see the needs, feel compassion, and be willing to be inconvenienced in order to give of our time and resources to help.
As we allow the love of Jesus to flow through our hearts, we will understand more and more what it means to love our neighbor.
We are all called to be good neighbors, we need to be present, we need to have those relationships we need to open our eyes to what is around us. When we open our eyes to those around us the process starts.
We have to make time to be a good neighbor.
Again my challenge to you today is to take the first step, learn your neighbors name, it starts with that.