I’m Every Person


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Observations from sermons on the parable of the Good Samaritan from Morris Hill Baptist and St. Peter’s Episcopal today. Yep, two sermons, two denominations, same Gospel passage, two different perspectives, one Truth. God has a point for me to get today.

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25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coin and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ~Lk. 10:25-37

“The lawyer realized that the only way he could possibly fulfill the Law’s demand was to limit its demand.”

Do you just fulfill the letter of the Law, or compassionately, do you go the extra mile to serve your neighbor who needs mercy? 

Faith is not a noun, a definition understood; but an action, a show of behavior like that of our divine Father. We are chips off the Divine block. And we should behave in such a way toward those our Father places in our path each day.

My takeaways:

We are all the lawyer, desperately seeking in vain to fulfill the law in our own strength.

We are all the broken man in the road, rejected by someone at sometime in life.

We are all the priest and the Levite at times, holding on to prejudices and selfishness, putting ourselves, our beliefs, and our rituals above others.

We are all the Samaritan, people made in the Image of God who are capable of inconveniencing ourselves, motivated by compassion and mercy, to reach out and show love to the ones we are least likely to show love to naturally.

In the words of singer/songwriter Dennis Jernigan,

Who is my neighbor? Anyone the Lord leads you into contact with! The person who lives next door…the mailman…that checkout clerk at Walmart…your waitress at IHOP…your child’s basketball coach…the man begging for food…the person you sit next to at the theater …your plumber…you get the idea…those you have any type of relationship with! Ministry does not require that you have expertise in a person’s field any more than it requires that you have experienced their particular sin or hurt. But ministry does require a few things.

Ministry requires that you love your neighbor as a potential new creation in Christ and, if they are a believer, to love them in spite of your discomfort with their particular struggle. Love does not require the other person’s agreement. You can love someone without agreeing with their political, spiritual, or moral beliefs.

To save the lost around us, we must establish relationships with them – loving people how they are, where they are.

So, who is the neighbor you need to go out of your way to love today?

Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?


“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” ~ Jesus, Luke 14:12-14

I have to be honest. The whole “Appreciate Chick-fil-a Day” that’s planned for this coming Wednesday isn’t sitting well with me. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why I have a problem with it, but I think it may be a collection of things.

For starters, anyone who has ever been to a Chick-fil-a at lunch knows that they are not lacking appreciation. Lines are typically out the door to Dine-In and around the building to Drive-thru. We love Chick-fil-a, and they know it.

The fervor with which most are supporting the event gives away that their heart is more speaking out against homosexuality than it is speaking for our First Amendment rights to free speech. Whether it is the intent or not, the whole thing just feels like an “us vs. them” spectacle.

I haven’t said much of anything about the Chick-fil-a kerfuffle. I just haven’t been able to put words to my heart.

But tonight I heard Tony Merida bring a message from the Word about meals and hospitality, and it impressed upon me an urgent need to ask people to consider carefully your decision on Wednesday.

In the Gospels, the method of ministry Jesus used was breaking bread with people. Tony said that you can trace Jesus’ path through Luke, and He is either on His way to a meal, at a meal, or leaving a meal. He met people at the dinner table, and we should, too.

In the verses above, Jesus tells his host that the next time he has a party, he needs to invite the marginalized of his society. Those that Jesus describes, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, are those that the Pharisees had declared unclean, unfit to worship with them. They are on the outskirts, they are the marginalized. They are “those people.” Jesus ate with both the Pharisees and with “those people.”

He ate with the Pharisees to call out their sin.

He ate with sinners to call them out of their sin.

The Pharisees rejected Him, but the sinners loved Him.

One thing I’m sure Jesus would never have done was go to a meal specifically held to remind “those people” just how marginalized they are. Jesus invited the marginalized to dine with Him. The lost around you are going to expect you to be one of “those Christians” on Wednesday. They will expect you to exclude them and go with all the other Christians to Eat More Chikn together.

Perhaps a better way of showing Christ to a watching world will be to do the exact opposite of what “everyone else” will be doing on Wednesday. Instead of taking a conservative/Republican/evangelical stance about the Great Chicken Debate, stoop in humble service and meet a marginalized person where they are.

On Wednesday, take Jesus to those who are not invited to Chick-fil-a.

Invite an unbelieving co-worker to join you for lunch. Let them pick the place and you pick up the check. Ask them questions and be genuinely interested in their life.

Take lunch to a shut-in member of your church. Heck, go buy Chick-fil-a for you both and then spend some time in fellowship with someone who knows what it means to be lonely.

Prove to your gay co-worker you’re not one of “those Christians.” Eat lunch with him or her and don’t attempt to convert them to heterosexuality.

Hang out with some homeless people. Spend time at cancer treatment unit. Or an AIDS support center.

If you really want to support the good work Chick-fil-a does with their camps and college scholarships and marriage retreats, take the money you would have spent on your meal and donate it directly to the Winshape Foundation.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:1-2

Instead of counting yourself in the number of good First Amendment-supporting Christians, just consider counting yourself in the company of Jesus. Receive sinners and eat with them. It will speak volumes to those who already know what the church thinks of them. Show them instead what Jesus thinks of them. I think He may care more about who we eat with than where we eat.