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The Art of Neighboring - A Special Possession

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Pastor Ed Allen finished up our series on "The Art of Neighboring" today with an overview sermon, taken from I Peter 2:9-12

First we heard the testimony of Sarah, a junior in high school, whose life was changed when someone invited her to Young Life and she gave her life to Jesus.

The message began with Ed talking about great speeches, fictional and actual - they tend to remind us who we are in order to move us to action.  That's what Peter does in this passage.

Who are we?

-- A chosen people.

God picked us.  That we are right here in this place is no accident.

-- A holy nation.

We're unique and set apart.  We're not attached to the culture around us.

-- God's special possession

God has expended great energy to obtain us.

Our Purpose:  ... to declare the praises of the one who has done so much for us!

What has God done?

-- He's brought us from darkness to light.

-- He is turning us into community.

Now we're the people of God.

-- He's made us mercy-recipients.

What's the plan now?

We're a culture that's different from the one around us.  We're foreigners and exiles.  We're also the centerpiece of God's plan.

Part One:  We don't do whatever pleases us.  In fact, we abstain from those desires which are ultimately harmful to us.

This is why our culture is ultimately at odds with the culture around us.  What we desire is not the standard for what is right.

Part Two:  We live consistently and powerfully good lives among our unbelieving neighbors so that they will see our good deeds and ultimately glorify God with their lives and deeds as well.

Live profoundly good, neighborly lives.

If you have trouble with Part One:

Don't be ashamed.  (It's tough.)  Don't give up.  Don't fight alone.

If you have trouble with Part Two:

Maybe God brought you here for your neighbors.  What's your assignment?  Pay attention.

Our Summer Assignment:  Let's have a cookout!

We want to hear stories this summer about what happens when we reach out to our neighbors in this way.

We finished off by remembering what an amazing thing God did when He built a church right here.  That time is now.  We were brought to this place to be a  Light.


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.