Summary: It is impossible to love from afar. Christians are called to share their blessings and get "down and dirty" in their sharing of the gospel and their service of others.
Much of the content of this sermon was taken from a sample sermon by Rick Rusaw, author of "Living a Life on Loan" Standared Publishing
We are people who have been created, loved, forgiven and called by God. God has touched our lives and moved in our lives in a powerful way. God’s movement in our lives is not just for our benefit, but rather we are blessed so that we can be a blessing. We respond to God’s love by loving others.
The question that now confronts us is, “What is God looking for from each of us as we invest our lives for him?” That is what this series Life on Loan has been about: How God has given us this life and what we do with it matters a great deal, and how we honor him with our lives.
How does your life count? How is your life of value? That is what we are looking for. It’s not that somehow the position we hold matters most to God. What matters is what we are going to live in a way that honors him. I want to look at two stories that Jesus told. He often told stories, and he told those stories to make a point. The first one you have heard before—the story of the Good Samaritan. We all are familiar with some version of that story. Here’s what Jesus is doing: An expert in the law came up to him and asked him what the most important commandment is, and how he could get to have life with God. Jesus asked him what was written in the law, and he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). And he went on to say, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Luke 10:27). Then Jesus tells a story to illustrate the point.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
We have heard that story, whether we have ever been in a church or not. We have seen it on the news sometimes—the Good Samaritan who stops to help out. What does it mean to be a good neighbor? Jesus tells this story: a guy gets beat up on a roadside, and Jesus, in an ironic way, puts the extra twist in it. He says to these Jewish people who were gathered together: Here’s this Samaritan, someone who hates Jews and Jews are hated by them, he stops and he is the one who ends up being the good neighbor. The guy with the religious title, he passes right by him on the one side. The guy who is on his way to teach the Law at some school, he also crosses the street. We all know a Good Samaritan story, someone who stops to help someone at a point of need.
There are five things the Samaritan that would be good for us to do if we are going to live an invested life on loan. The first thing he does, in verse 33, is assist the person in a time of need. That seems pretty obvious, but look what that meant: He didn’t just pass as the others did. This guy had a schedule, he had an agenda, and there was some place he was heading. But he stopped, and because there was this need that presented itself—he didn’t start out his day by saying, “Boy, I hope I find some guy beat up, naked, bleeding and half dead on the road. That would make my day.” That was not how he started his day. But here he comes along to this man in need. What does he do—he stops!
And sometimes for us, when things happen by chance, when things happen because we have the opportunity, when a circumstance arises, or a person with needs bumps into us, we get to choose at that moment what we will do. And the truth is, there has been a good chunk of my life when I have found a way around that issue. I flagged someone down to help out, or reported it when I got somewhere else—I found a way to find someone else meet that particular need. Whatever it may have been—it isn’t always someone left for dead on the side of the road. Maybe it is someone who calls you, or someone you bump in to at work, maybe it is someone you recognize that has some issue going on. It is easy to get so caught up in what we are doing that sometimes we pass right by the needs that happen.
Getting out of our own way is more difficult than I care to admit at times. Sometimes what I am doing—my agenda, my schedule, my plans - almost always, or at least used to, supersedes the things going on around me in peoples lives. It isn’t that we aren’t good-hearted, we are just busy, aren’t we? Somebody will help out, and maybe we will too, sometime. When an opportunity comes, do we choose to respond? Steve Sjogren, the pastor at Vineyard Church in Cincinnati, said it takes between 12 to 20 positive bumps—refreshing encounters with the Christians or churches—before people come to appreciate Christ, or God, or the church. Often times what you do in a simple act of service becomes a very positive bump for somebody, but so often we are too busy.