Summary: 2nd in 5 part series. This is an all church campaign/study put out by Zondervan in order for us not to just go to church but be the church.
Faith In Action - Week 2
How do you feel when you see this sign? (Detour sign) I doubt that there is anyone in this room that says when they see this sign, “Alright! I get to take a detour!” Instead you might feel a little anxious because you’re not sure where this detour will take you. Or frustrated because you are pressed for time and this detour will mess up your schedule.
But what would you do if you saw a sign that it made it completely your choice whether or not you took the detour. Maybe it said, "Detour our Your Usual Route - your choice!" What would you tend to usually do? In my more honest moments I have to admit I would be prone to take my usual route, especially if I knew the detour might cost me time, money, & personal frustration.
Well, today as we continue our series “Faith In Action,” we’re going to talk about detours. Not the kind of detours that you encounter while driving, but the kind of detours that come at you as you are traveling the highway of life, life detours. Some detours in life come at you, and there’s no way you can choose to take your normal route. A serious illness, you’re laid off from your job, a loved one dies, a spouse walks out... those detours don’t give you a choice. But there are other times in your life when you have a choice to get off your normal path and take a detour, a detour that will enable you to help someone in need. When the chance to serve someone comes are you the kind of person who will follow the sign that says “Take your normal and comfortable route” or take the “Detour Ahead?”
Well, Jesus Christ asks us that very question. Tonight we are going to look at a person in the Bible who decided to take a detour on his road of life in order to be of service to someone else. It wouldn’t surprise me if you have heard of him. He is known as the “Good Samaritan.” You see tonight we’re going to take a page from the late Mr. Rogers and ask, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” As we look at this story I want us to see how Jesus wants to challenge and change us in the area of serving others.
I. DETOUR: JESUS CHECKS OUR MOTIVATION:
First, I want us to see that when it comes to serving Jesus checks our motivation. Let’s begin by reading the background to this story. Here’s how it came about. “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?’”(Lk 10:25-26) Sometime during Jesus’ ministry, he encounters a religious lawyer of his day. Now, this is not the kind of lawyer who goes to court in a civil or criminal case. This “lawyer” is an expert in Old Testament Law. He is a religious lawyer and the question he asks Jesus is basically: “What do I have to do to have eternal life?” Basically, he is asking, “What must I do to be saved?” But it is clear that his thirst for knowledge is not his primary motivation. Vs: 25 tells us that he asked the question, not with a teachable heart but this properly schooled lawyer was testing the popular, but unofficial, teacher to see if he could expose that Jesus couldn’t handle a tough theological question. But Jesus, being the Master Teacher turns the question around in v.26 and basically says, “Hey, you’re the expert, don’t you know the answer?”
Well, the lawyer can’t resist the temptation to show off his religious sophistication. Actually his answer shows a good bit of insight. He answers: “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.” Jesus says, “Good job! You get an A+” I think the guy is smirking, feeling good about himself. If only Jesus would of stopped there. But He doesn’t and says, “Do this and you will live.” In other words, “Does your walk back up your talk? Are you just a lawyer with right answers or do you practice what you preach?” You see it’s one thing to know the right thing, it’s quite another thing to do it. Jesus knew this guy’s heart... and knew that the motivation for asking the question was not near as pure as his answer.
Let’s read verse 29. This is an important verse, because in it you see this lawyer’s second motive. “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” You see his first motive was that he hoped to expose Jesus to be someone uneducated, but secondly, when that doesn’t work and he is confronted with something uncomfortable, he begins to defend or justify himself. He does this by trying to narrowly define a word. “What is your definition of “neighbor?” Now, I think it’s important to understand that the classic interpretation for “neighbor” by the Jews at this time meant “one who is near,” near in terms of race and religion. To the lawyer “love your neighbor” meant love those of your own race and religion, and if the person doesn’t fit these qualifications, then they aren’t a neighbor, and the law doesn’t apply.