Summary: This is a stewardship sermon based on the parable of the good Samaritan.
Because We Love And We Care
Today we enter the challenge phase our New Life Campaign. One of our reasons for building the New Life Center is because we love and we care. Our first love is our love for God, for the Scriptures tells us to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul and our strength. Our God is not some creative cosmos out there somewhere. Our God is personal, warm, and a daily living reality in our lives.
Love for God is not some fuzzy feeling inside, but it is demonstrated in our obedience to do the things the Lord calls us to do. To say we love God, and not have it affect the choices we make and the way we live is the equivalent of denying who God is. We care about how our actions affect the heart of God.
Our second love is for people. Loving people is proof of our love for Jesus Christ. There was nothing more important on this earth to Jesus than people. Jesus came into this world because he loved and cared about people. He then set a standard for all of us to follow as was read in our New Testament text. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."
At the heart of the New Life Campaign is a willingness to lay down part of our lives for the next three years in order to bring life into the lives of others. Jesus says in John 12:24-25 "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The one who loves his life will lose it, while the who who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
By our willingness to sacrifice now, we will grow tremendously in the Lord and make it possible for a lot of people to come into a relationship with Christ. The thing about the Lord, is that when there is a willingness to die or sacrifice on our part, he provides an abundance in ways we cannot have foreseen. Even when it comes to money, the Lord says, "honor the Lord with your wealth and your barns will be filled to overflowing. (Proverbs 3:9-10). Jesus put it this way in Mark 10:29-30 "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields).
God is loving and caring for us, years in advance of our response to Him because of the relationship he wants to have with us. God is also very concerned about the relationships we have with each other. When there is a break in the horizontal relationships we have with each other, there is a problem with the vertical relationship we have with God. One proof of our love for God, is the way we are willing to sacrifice on behalf of each other. If our sacrifice does not involve helping someone else, there is no sacrifice.
For instance if you were down to your last $100, if you said Lord, I’m going to sacrifice this $100 dollar bill to you. If you then took it and burned it up in the fire as an offering to the Lord it would not be a sacrifice. It would be stupidity. With all the needs in the world that the $100 could have impacted, what you have done is simply religious foolishness. Now if you took that same $100 and out of compassion gave it to someone who was worse off than you, that $100 became a sacrifice that was acceptable to God. It’s not possible to have a sacrifice without intending to benefit someone else.
Loving somebody always involves a sacrifice. The amount of sacrifice required let’s us know just how much we truly love. This is why we categorize people into family, friends, associates, acquaintances, and strangers. This allows us to feel pretty good about ourselves as Christians. We believe our obligations to each group continually decreases until we reach the point where for some people we do not have to do anything for them, even speak to them, because of where they fall in our categories of people. Yet we can say, oh yes I love everybody in the world for the most part.
There’s only one problem. That problem is Jesus. Before we discuss the Jesus problem let’s meet a couple of people. Father Jackson is a wonderful Jewish priest. He does his best to live according to the rules for a priest. His time has finally come when he will be serving at the temple. It’s an honor to be the priest on duty. He has made sure he followed all the rules to be considered clean when he enters the temple. His family is so very proud of him. They cannot wait for him to return home and let them know how his turn in serving at the temple went They have all waited for this day to happen. Father Jackson is so excited he traveles by himself to make it to his post.