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The Art of Neighboring - The Good Samaritan

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his series on The Art of Neighboring by looking at the parable of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus in Luke 10:25-37.

He began by looking at the expert in the law's question.  He was wrongheaded about eternal life.  It's not about DOing the right thing.  (See John 5:24 and 6:47.)

Jesus seems to be emphasizing the quality of life more than the quantity in "eternal" life.  The Greek word means "of the ages" and can be referring more to a quality of life than a long unspecified period of time.  

We tend to think about what God wants from us.  Jesus continually talks about what God wants for us.

Jesus makes himself central to the whole discussion of life "of the ages."  (See John 5:39 and 6:40.)  He is the key to having all that God wants for us.

But Jesus makes a different point for the lawyer, knowing what he needs to grapple with.  It's the same thing we of northern Virginia need to look at.

The question "Who is my neighbor?" comes at it from the wrong end.  Jesus straightens him out with some challenges.

Jesus' challenges to us:

-- Expand your moral circle.

We're compelled to open up to people in need, not to keep people out.  It's easy, though, to close our hearts down.

The Samaritan wasn't thinking about whether the traveler was his "kind," but only about kindness.

-- Eliminate unhelpful categories.

Political discussion today is predicated on categories.  We're determined to categorize people.

Jesus chose a Samaritan to be the hero - in a category for devout Jews of someone hated and despised.

Act with kindness and mercy to those near you regardless of category.  Don't use a category as an excuse.

If you have the resources to live in northern Virginia, you're on the "right" side of most categories.  Be sensitive to that.  And don't hold back your kindness.

-- Embody mercy.

If necessary, use your own means to meet the needs of people near you.

When we see need, we are the kind of people who embody mercy.

That's what the Samaritan did.

If Jesus were to tell the parable today to have the same effect, he might have a conservative talk radio host in a ditch by the side of the road in the snow.  The pastor of Gateway drives right by.  Then an elder from Gateway comes by and changes lanes to get further away from it.  But then a cross-dressing gay guy stops and gets him out of the ditch and pays for a tow truck and medical care.

That's the kind of neighbor we should be.


Continue to pray for your neighbors.

Ask to see need in the midst of your busyness.

Ask for the courage to act with mercy.

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.