Summary: A Sermon on Compassionate Minsitry
From Servants to Friends
A Sermon on compassionate ministry
27He 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."
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
30In 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. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He 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. 35The next day he took out two silver coins 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?"
37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
It is appropriate that we come together here today to celebrate another anniversary of Helping Hands. As the pastor of the church that founded the ministry I am honored to be a guest speaker today as well.
Church of the Nazarene started in a compassionate ministry center. Los Angeles’ First Church of the Nazarene put great emphasis on what John Wesley called “acts of compassion and deeds of mercy”. They were involved in providing food, clothing, and shelter to the Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, starting homes for unwed mothers, and taking up collections for those who had financial need. Even our foreign mission work in those early days was rooted in social action, with the establishment of hospitals and medical services being one of the primary means by which we shared the gospel in other parts of the world. These acts, which some might call charitable, were a natural response for a people who had experienced the grace of God in their lives. They still embody the Spirit of Jesus today.
Celebrating the anniversary of Helping Hands inherently implies that we intend to see Helping Hands carry on its mission for years to come. That is noble and right. I know that Patrice has a vision to to nurture a network that can reach even more people. I applaud her for that.
There are certain elements that must be present if a ministry is to have longevity and ongoing impact. They are clearly in a ministry of compassion.
1. COMPASSION IS BASED ON WORTH NOT WORKS.
• It is easy to excuse ourselves from the process. The first two men who had opportunity to help the victim had “put in their time” already. They were “coming down” from Jerusalem suggesting they had already fulfilled their “ecclesiastical obligations. They felt justified in not stopping to render aid.
• Do you ever watch the old Sitcom M*A*S*H? There is one scene in particular that I find germane to today’s topic. Frank Burns is setting next to a patient in the hospital and he asks the wounded soldier what is troubling him. The soldier begins to respond and then says something like “Oh what does it matter, you don’t care anyway.” Major Burns responds by saying “Sure I do. The Army gave us orders that we have to be compassionate.”
• Compassion does not stem from “orders” it stems from an understanding of the worth of a human being. It draws its motivation from the acknowledgment that those in duress are worth and worthy of approaching.
2. COMPASSION IS BASED ON COMMITMENT NOT EMOTION.
• It is easier to cross the road or move on down the road and just call 911 that it is to stop and be God’s agent of mercy.
• If emotion motivates Wesley’s “acts of compassion and deeds of mercy” then we will quickly tire of the cause and turn to more stimulating enterprises.
• We have seen this all too often. That is one reason compassionate ministries have to resort to fund raising and awareness campaigns.
• But Helping Hands is not based on feelings … it is based on commitment.