Sermons

Summary: When disasters or crises occur, mature Christians get involved in the plight of the victims and help with their rescue and rehabilitation because it's the right thing to do, as taught by Jesus in one of His famous parables.

DISSEMENATING GOD’S GRACE BEYOND THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

Natural disasters, like hurricanes, that wreak havoc in the lives of so many people as well as wreck so much property, tend to bring out the best in all of us. Such was the case recently when untold numbers of heroic rescues, by unnamed rescuers, saved the lives of scores of victims.

Some rescues were captured on cameras but others went unnoticed. Yet, all rescuers regardless of who they were, must have had something good in common . . . Honesty compels me, though, to mention the probability that, in some instances, there might have been onlookers who witnessed the plight of victims but, for whatever reason, did nothing to help, directly or indirectly.

Suppose we attribute the highest of motives to everyone who did go to the rescue of the helpless: Out of the goodness of a compassionate heart, either they acted on their own or they sought the help of someone who would be able to go to the rescue. Surely no one’s response was due to any ulterior motive or lack of concern! We can only conjecture!

What we must come to grips with, however, is an uncomfortable truth about human nature: Inherent in all of us is a “bent toward sinning” (missing the mark) - to one degree or another.

That said . . . let me point out that one of the marks of a “Christian Culture” is the reshaping of moral thinking that occurs over time - so that most of us have had it instilled in us from childhood that we should “do unto others as we would have others do unto us”.

This sacred principle - “it’s the right thing to do” – had its origin in biblical teachings of both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus epitomized doing the right thing! The Early Church indoctrinated its members to live by the Golden Rule!

In our role as kingdom dwellers, quite naturally we go to the aid of fellow believers without hesitation or second guessing. Above all, we show love for brothers and sisters in Christ! We do this because:

As members of the Family of God, every one of us has been granted those attributes of discernment and distinction – and we act accordingly. Subsequently we were granted the attribute of dissemination – a unique ability to “spread far and wide, as in sowing seeds” God’s grace in various ways. Our motive for doing so is love for God + love for others. (Symbol of the Cross)

Putting this concept of “agape” into practice within the family, within the fellowship of believers, within the household of faith presents little or no problem to most of us. Rather easy and quite enjoyable! After all, “Charity begins at home!”

The “rub” comes when faced with an opportunity for ministry away from home or outside our comfort zone! The Lord Jesus, in His role as our Master Teacher, was expert at challenging us to practice what we preach beyond the place we call home . . . the walls of our sanctuary . . . the household of faith. As a matter of fact:

Basic to Christian Discipleship is the practice of our profession of faith not only at home but at large . . . not only here but there . . . among those “like us”, but also among those who are “different from us”. Thus, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37 . . .

Whenever Jesus told an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, usually He did so in response to a question, a situation, or a fascination about eternal life . . . Here (in this story) a lawyer asks “What must I do” to get accepted into the kingdom.

A common way of thinking among Jews and Gentiles alike! “Do this or that, and you’re in!” Not uncommon to this day! “Tell me what to DO!” Truth be told: Nobody could ever DO enough to merit salvation. Therefore, salvation had to be “by grace through faith”!

Once saved by God’s grace through faith, our role is to be about our Father’s business - disseminating God’s grace in various ways - first to members of the household of faith, then to those on the “outside” - as opportunities arise.

You might say that the real test of one’s conversion, the “proof” of one’s profession of faith, may well be the pattern we develop in our lives of responding to needs we become aware of: As a general rule, do we respond, or, as a general rule, do we avoid responding to dire needs?

When questioned here by the legal beagle, Jesus cut through the chase and went directly to the heart of the matter:

“Is the Shema you wear on your wrist inscribed on your heart? Has your memorization of the Great Commandment taken root in the fertile soil of your mind? Do you truly love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and soul?” If so, there would be no question about your type of response to your neighbor.

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