Summary: This message answers the question who is my neighbor?
Welcome to the Neighborhood
March 2, 2003
A plain sweater, white canvass sneakers, a warm smile and a simple song welcomed us every day to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Fred Rogers became a PBS legend. This past week Fred Rogers passed away but his work will live on because he did his best to be the kind of person that every child would want for their neighbor.
As a child I watched Mr. Rogers and as a parent I watched it with Abigail. Over the years not much changed with the show; it was the same house, the same trolley to take you to a world of make believe, the same puppets and the same opening song. Every episode Mr. Rogers always asked the same question in his song: “Would you like to be my neighbor?”
This morning I want to look at a familiar story and a similar question.
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 In 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He 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. 35 The 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?" 37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Keys to Living in the “Neighborhood”
I. Stop ignoring people in pain
A. The traveler was injured
The traveler was attacked while going to Jerusalem. The attack left the traveler robber with no money, stripped with no clothing and beaten with severe injuries. There can be no doubt that the traveler was in a great deal of pain.
B. The pain of our world
We are surrounded by a great deal of pain. If you doubt me, take a good look around on your way out of town this morning. Everywhere you look in our society people are plagued with pain. Some are struck with injuries or illnesses that place them in physical pain. Some are dealing with stigma and scars of emotional pain. Some are living in the darkness and despair of spiritual pain. The mission of the church is to reach out to those in pain. Our purpose is to reach out with hope and healing to a hurting world. Our purpose is to reach out with the love of Christ.
II. Start getting involved
A. The traveler was in need of compassion
The traveler was robbed, stripped, beaten and left for dead. He most definitely needed someone to have compassion on him.
The priest saw the man and went on by. How amazing that a man who was to work for the welfare of people ignored this man in need. His focus was more on the duty of religion than on devotion to God
The Levite approached the man but decided not to act. No reason is given for the man’s inaction but it could be as a result of fear. The thieves could still be nearby and he could be their next victim. If other people passed by the Levite might be blamed for the attack. Perhaps assisting the man was too much trouble and the Levite continued on his way.
B. Christ acted with compassion
Christ sets a model for active compassion for us to follow. We see brilliant examples of Christ’s compassion throughout the gospels but none were so definite than His plea for the forgiveness of those who had crucified Him. Everywhere that Jesus went He showed compassion on everyone, even those who rejected Him. “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Jesus showed compassion on those who needed it most. He ate with tax collectors. He touched lepers to heal them. He openly associated with sinners. He openly loved people.