Summary: Based on the story of the Good Samaritan, this message prepared this congregation for a community event.
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LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
* (SING) “And like a good neighbor…who is there?” Most of us would say or sing “State Farm.” Well this week I did an internet search on “Like a Good Neighbor” and was surprised at what I found. State Farm was the lead link. The second link was titled “State Farm wants to steal your money and send you to jail.” That page told a story about people who had their car stolen and burned. The insurance company refused to pay and charge the owners with fraud. The case is open but it doesn’t look good.
* This week I was in the doctor’s office and saw about 5 minutes of “Little House on the Prairie”. I heard Michael Landon make a case to the banker that “I’m a hard working man, honest, and a good neighbor.”
* We have already read the story which we call “The Good Samaritan”, but it seems to me that we have focused on the wrong thing. Jesus was not so much highlighting the lineage of the Samaritan as much as He was answering the question that He was asked. Let’s revisited this story and pull out some helps.
* The story opens with a very learned person, a religious person, and a church goer, trying to find out exactly what had to be done to go to heaven. To read this story is to understand that he was trying to do “just enough” to get in. While he didn’t want to miss eternity, he certainly didn’t want to do more than just the required. To answer this man’s initial question, Jesus turned to the law which the man knew so well and asked, “What does it say?” His response is admirable and shows a great command of knowledge of the Pentateuch. He quotes two sections of Old Testament writings. First he quotes Deuteronomy 6 and says, “Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Without taking a breath he then quotes Leviticus 19 and says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” To this, Jesus probably nodded and gave His approval knowing all the while that there was more to come. And there was, but;
* Let’s pause just for a second and consider this “Royal Law” as James calls it. To love God like has just been spoken is to give Him everything we have. Moses finishes this thought for us in Deuteronomy 6. (Read and explain). The first step in being a good neighbor and fulfilling the Royal law is to invite Christ into your life, not as an insurance policy but as a Savior. There is no way to love God without coming through His Son.
* Leviticus 19:18 is a telling verse. (Read) Have you ever truly considered the teachings of Jesus about LOVE? At the end of His earthly ministry he taught, “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for a friend.” This is piggy backed on the teaching that even the pagans love friends, “Love your enemies.”
* Make no mistake; being a follower of Jesus’ requires attitudes and actions which are foreign to us and impossible without Him as our personal savior and guide.
* Perhaps you have not made this decision in your life. Why not do it now? This second.
* Now we arrive at point of asking the same question which the lawyer ask, “Exactly who is my neighbor and how do I become a good neighbor?” Since we are familiar with the story Jesus told, let’s see what we can learn from it.
* When we see someone in need how do we respond? Candidly, this church, as a whole, responds to dire physical need about as well as any ‘body’ I have been associated with. Most recently, the young family who was burned out of their house has been responded to in a great way. This is Christianity at it best. This is what give the church influence.
* Chuck Colson has observed that when the Communists took over Russian in 1917, they did not make Christianity illegal. Their constitution, in fact, guaranteed freedom of religion. But they did make it illegal for the church to do any "good works." No longer could the church fulfill its historic role in feeding the hungry, educating the children, housing the orphan, or caring for the sick. What was the result? After 70 years, the church was largely irrelevant to the communities in which it dwelt. Take away service and you take away the church’s power, influence, and evangelistic effectiveness. The power of the gospel is found in combining the life-changing message of Jesus with selfless service of His followers.