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The Art of Neighboring - Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series on "The Art of Neighboring" by looking at Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18.  This is the passage where God commanded the Israelites to "Love your neighbor as yourself."

This passage has been called the fundamental definition of what it meant for Israel to be a holy nation.  Religion and how we treat our neighbor cannot be separated.

Who is our neighbor?

There was commentary and debate about this question in this passage.  From verse 10, it suggests even the poor and foreigners were included.  But from verse 17-18, some argued that it only meant fellow Israelites.

Jesus spoke to this question with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  His answer:

Our neighbor is anyone near us in need.

Why care?  What's our motivation for loving our neighbor?

God answers this question over and over in the passage:  Because "I am the Lord."

God is holy, so we must be.

God's holiness is the standard of His people's behavior and the foundation of their behavior.

We don't treat our neighbors with kindness to get more friends, to be more respected, or even because they need us.

We reach out to our neighbors because they're created by God.

God is our motivation.

We get caught up in ourselves and our own story.  It's not about us.  It's about God and what He wants for us.

The reason we act with kindness toward our neighbors is because of God.

How do we neighbor well?

This passage gives a practical list of ways to do that.  

Be generous and truthful.  Don't steal or take advantage of people.  Act with justice.  And so on.

Summary:  We love our neighbors as ourselves.

These aren't only about behavior.  They also are about how we feel -- don't hate, don't bear a grudge, and so on.

We should plan and strategize to help meet our neighbors' needs.  (Example is leaving part of the harvest to be gleaned.  That takes planning.)

Try to strategize to actively reach out to your neighbors.

With that in mind, we finished the service by meeting in groups with other people from our neighborhoods and prayed together for them.  And we're encouraged to actively look for ways to reach out.

The Art of Neighboring

Today, Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series on "The Art of Neighboring."  We began by reading the passages Luke 9:23-25 and Philemon 6.

If we're going to grow, there are 4 key relationships:

1)  We must be healthily engaged to ourselves - but the emphasis on this relationship must decrease.

We spend an enormous amount of time on this one, but Jesus instructs us plainly:  Our relationship with ourselves must decrease in importance.  (Luke 9:23-25)

2)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged in a relationship with God.

Matthew 22:37.  It's not easy, but vitally important.  We gather because we need all the encouragement we can get.  There also needs to be individual time for reading the Bible and prayer.

3)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged in a relationship with outhers who have a relationship with God.

This is vitally important, and is not a casual thing for us.  The New Testament is full of the phrase "one another."  You can't "love one another" when you're alone.

This won't fall into our laps - we need to work at it.  Things in our culture work against community.

4)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged with those who do not have a relationship with God.

Matthew 22:37-40.  Growing OUT toward the world in service and evangelism.

Jesus is saying, "Just tell them about me.  If they know me, tell them more.  If they don't know me, introduce them."

We don't separate those relationships from a sense of superiority or to exclude them.

Philemon 6 -- "And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ."

We can't fully know all we have in Christ without sharing.

Our Assignment:  Begin praying for your neighbors!

Pastor Ed told the story of one of the men in our church who now leads a wide ministry - and his relationship with God began when Ed's wife prayed for him for years.

Two concerns:  

"I think religion is a private thing.  I don't want to share mine."

"I don't know enough."

Neither of those objections is true.  Be authentic and talk about your life.

But we'll begin by praying for our neighbors!

Look at for a devotional guide this week.