Summary: This sermon challenges us to consider who our neighbor really is and what we can do for him or her. It implores us to think about our community and not just our programs as a church.
Do you ever wonder what kind of an impact you have on your family, friends or people in general? Do you stop to consider how your life matters in this world? Life is precious. It is a gift from God. And every one of us matters to someone. But sometimes I stop and wonder if I am making my life count. Am I making the most of my opportunities to bless others? Am I making an impact? Don’t you wonder this?
As the pastor of this church it is my responsibility to evaluate whether we as a body of believers are making an impact on our community as well. You see, the job of the church is not to impact the church, but to impact the world around us. It’s like a huddle in a football game. 30,000 people don’t pay 35 dollars a ticket to watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers huddle. What if you went to the Bomber game tonight and for 2 ½ hours you watched 11 men stand in a circle and talk? That’s not what you paid for! 30,000 people pay 35 dollars a ticket to see what a difference the huddle makes. What they want to know is, having called the play in secret, does it work in public? So the challenge for our church is not what we do when we call our Sunday morning huddle, but what we do when we break the huddle and head to our weekday assignments. When life’s struggles line up against us, what difference does it make that we are Christians? What impact are we making?
This has been on my mind for some time and I wonder if it’s just me. As I searched my heart and the Bible for answers it was the story of the Good Samaritan that the Spirit impressed upon me. We have heard this story a thousand times. It’s been analyzed to death; we know who the bad guys are.
So I will not dissect this story entirely but will pull out the critical questions to answer this: How can impact my neighbors with the love of Jesus?
What must I do to inherit eternal life?
When women share their problems with their husbands, how do men typically respond? Men respond by saying, “This is what you should do…” Or they try to do it themselves. Now in our enlightened age we men should know by now that women are not sharing their problems so that we will solve; they just want u s to listen. But engrained in all of us is this compulsion “to do.”
When the expert in the law tests Jesus he wonders how he can impact God, as it were. How can I impress God so that I may gain eternal life? “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus responds in his characteristic teaching style by throwing the question right back at him. “You are a student of the law. What do you think the law tells you to do?”
The law expert responded, “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.”
Note what Jesus says next: “Do this and you will live.” There is a hint of mirth in Jesus’ reply. He knows and the expert in the law knows that it is impossible to keep these two commandments perfectly. It is unfortunate that he is asking about a way to life instead of a way of life. There is an important difference here. We think, even with our knowledge of God’s grace, that there is something that we can do to be significant, to avoid a wasted life. If I keep busy enough, then maybe…
Doing is important but there is something more to making an impact. Being shaken by the challenge to love God and neighbor, the expert in the law tried to ease his conscience knowing that he had not loved every person equally: he asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
Who is my neighbor?
I want to answer this in a practical and personal way. You know who the neighbor is in the story. But who is your neighbor?
If I think of my neighbors literally in Kleefeld I would have to say Tyler & Melissa, Chad & Darlene, Annie, Tiff & Tamara, Eldon & Adeline, Ryan & Jeralyn, Fred & Vinnie, Dave & Janet, and Merv & Eunice. All of these people either go to our church, to KCC, to Rosengard Church or to Southland. My neighbors are all church goers. So in a sense we return to the original problem that if I or you want to have impact we are not to impact the church but we should seek to impact our community. But my neighbors are mostly the church. And so are many of yours.