Summary: The Bible says that our love for our enemies is proof that we are believers in Christ.
One of the more famous stories in all of literature comes from the earliest parts of our Bible. Cain and Abel, the children of Adam and Eve, are in conflict Cain actually murders Abel. God quickly confronts Cain with these words: “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9b)? It’s a rhetorical question to enforce the Bible’s command that we care for one another. I am my brother’s keeper. Say this with me: I am my brother’s keeper.
For the next few Sunday’s, we are going to focus on our relationships in our community in a series, entitled, Won’t You Be Our Neighbor? Many of you have seen our videos featuring Mr. Rogers in recent weeks. More seriously, we are asking many of you to read The Art of Neighboring as we progress through the series. This is a light read that you can move through in a matter of a couple of hours. In fact, one of the simplest pieces is this tool: where you are asked to identify the names of your eight closest neighbors. As we have been preparing for this day, our staff called this “the chart of shame.” I discovered this week that one of my neighbors had been in the hospital nearly 60 times in three years. We’ll come back to this chart at the end of today’s message.
On Food Truck Sunday, we'll be turning our south parking lot into a Food Truck Park. Everyone has to eat lunch after church, right? So let's just do it together! What if you invited a neighbor from your apartment complex to come that Sunday? During the month of October, we'll be tackling projects all over the community through our Love Loud emphasis. What if there is a Love Loud project on your street that you just don’t know about yet? Wouldn’t Trunk or Treat be more fun if you knew the kids behind those masks, because you took time to get to know their parents between now and then.... When we take the time to get to know our neighbors, we're not competing with the church - we're being the church!
Christianity is revolutionary because Jesus came along and said, “You please God by how you treat others.” “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). The Golden Rule: love just as you want to be loved. And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40). This entire series highlights one of our church’s core values, what we call generous living.
The Bible says you cannot please God unless you love your neighbor. So that all my the longings that I have for my own safety and health and success and happiness I now feel for that other person as though he were me. This is novel; this is revolutionary. And we really need to recapture this in our day.
1. It’s Needed Now
The Need Is Within Our Community. Over 10% of all Fort Worth ISD students have attempted suicide at least once in 2017. Nearly 30% reported they feel sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row. I discovered that government leaders have noted: People who have close bonds with their neighbors live longer; Where people know the names of their neighbor's crime is 60% lower; When natural disasters strike your neighbors are your first responders. There’s a chaotic pace to our lives where we need to slow down. The recent school shootings are not just about gun rights but we all see there’s a growing need to build strong relationships with one another.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)?
1. It’s Needed Now
2. It’s Been Our History
One of the distinctive features to historical Christians has been we’ve taken the Golden Rule seriously. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43–44). The Bible says that our love for our enemies is the proof that we are believers in Christ.