One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: ‘Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus replied, ‘What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?’ The man answered, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. and, Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!’ The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied with a story: ‘A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ ‘Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?’ Jesus asked. The man replied, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Yes, now go and do the same.’ (Luke 10:25-37 NLT)
Okay, that was bit longer passage than I normally quote in my Pastor’s Perspective, but it was important to capture Jesus’ parable, and what prompted Him to tell the story. The religious leader may have thought of a neighbor as someone he knew well, and probably was friends with. Jesus blew that out of the water. Jesus taught us that our neighbor is basically, well, everyone.
In my Life Group we’re doing a study by Francis Chan entitled, Multiply – disciples making disciples. It deals with the fact that all of us who are disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ, are called to make other disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ.
We’ve been discussing how love, genuine love, is both a motivator for followers of Jesus, an indicator that we are followers of Jesus, and a generator of new followers of Jesus. In other words, our love for each other, and our neighbor, can so impact people that God uses our demonstrations of love to draw someone to Him.
One of the questions we’ve been asking is, "How can we show our love to each other, and to those around us?" Certainly our Share Life dinner nights are one way. Again, let me encourage you to start having your neighbors over for dinner. Make a commitment to have someone over at least once a quarter. I know, it’s not like we don’t already have plenty to do without throwing a dinner on top of it. But remember our saying, “It’s not about a religion. It’s about a relationship.” We have to live that out with those God has brought into our sphere of influence. When we work on building our relationship with them, we’re really working on building a bridge to the Gospel for them.
But let me tell you about another specific opportunity we have as a church to love our neighbor by living out the parable of the Good Samaritan. Traci Baird was driving down 540 back in January and she witnessed a terrible accident. It was a single car accident, and no one else was around other than Traci. The car went down an embankment so that no one would have even known there had been an accident, or where the car was, if Traci had not seen it.
It turns out that the man who had the accident has lupus, and apparently had a seizure. Miraculously, he survived the accident but just got out of the hospital last week. He has five children. Traci felt burdened for this man and his family. She went and visited his wife, who is quite overwhelmed by the whole situation. She is the sole provider and caretaker for her husband, who still has a long way to go. Coincidentally, (Not!) one of their daughters goes to Leesville High School. Apparently they have no family in the area, and they have no church family.
So, Cross Culture Church, who is your neighbor? I think we can all hear that story and realize that God put Traci at that precise spot, at that precise moment, for the precise reason of giving His followers an opportunity to show God’s love to a family that needs it, big time!
Traci has set up a Genius sign-up where we can go and reserve a spot for providing meals for the family. Just click the link below, (if it will let you) or copy and paste it into your browser, to find out more information, and how you can provide meals. Traci talked to the man’s wife about our church doing this for them, and I think she was truly blown away that people that don’t even know them would be willing to do this for them. Of course, she doesn’t know what we know, that she’s really our neighbor! I know God is going to use this. Thank you in advance for demonstrating the love of Jesus to this family. Thanks for being a good neighbor.
I love being your pastor,
Dr. J. Clay Stevens is Lead Pastor of Cross Culture Church in Raleigh, NC. He is author of the book I Get It! Discovering How To Really live In The Promises Of God. His life mission statement is: "To take people from where they are to where God wants them to be."