The Mississippi River is the longest river in North America and the fourth longest river in the world. It is 2,320 miles long, 200 feet deep and one mile wide at its widest point. Any idea where it starts? As a tiny babbling brook in northern Minnesota near Lake Itasca. Everything starts somewhere. Every program, thought, decision, activity and action has a source.
What should the source of loving your neighbor be?
No act of love or service towards the poor should be separated from a growing, vibrant relationship with Jesus. Our missions (the acts of loving our neighbor) should be an overflow of God’s love in us.
1 John 4:7-8 states that God is the source of all love.
Phoenix in August. One hundred and seventeen degrees. The block and a half walk home from school feels like a trek across the Sahara desert. There is not enough Gatorade in the world.
My three and five year olds have given up walking and wilted onto the stroller. So I am pushing three whiney kids ahead of me, willing myself to put one foot in front of the other as the sidewalk heat radiates through the soles of my sandals.
And then I see them. My neighbors.
Four little kids and their mother, in full Muslim attire, are standing in their front yard.
I give the woman a look that I hope says, “Are you guys okay?” but may well have been, “Are you crazy?” Thank the Lord of grace, who covers my insufficiencies, she speaks. She tells me they are locked out of their house. I invite her to bring her children to my house to stay cool until her husband comes home. She politely declines in an “I’m not from around here” accent.
My husband is an Olympics junky. He counts the days until the Olympics, cries during the medal ceremonies, and, for the past two weeks, has been constantly updating me on medal counts and trivia from Sochi.
It’s the stories that really captivate my husband…the challenges that the athletes have overcome, the way they have pushed themselves to be the best, the daily discipline of training that so few are willing to submit to.
I assume that most of those athletes were born with some natural ability, of course. But no one gets to the Olympics on raw talent alone. This brings me to Love.
Love is one of the fruits of the Spirit. God is love. If we are born of the Spirit, if we are children of God, then His love is in us. We come by love naturally. Yet Scripture is peppered with verses like this:
Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. – I Timothy 4:7b-8
This blog is part 3 of a 3 part series. You can read the first 2 parts of the series at the following links: Part 1 / Part 2
One key to loving our neighbor is understanding our neighbor’s immediate needs and responding accordingly. We conclude the study of the Good Samaritan parable by looking at the perspective through which neighborly love was shown.
God’s concern is for all areas of life.
When sin entered the world it created brokenness on many levels (Spiritual, physical, social, mental). Therefore the work of Christ on the cross was meant to bring wholistic reconciliation. Reconciliation to all things not just our relationship to Him (Col. 1:19-20).
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” Luke 10:30
There are so many ways that people get “beat up” by life. Loving people like Christ is basically the same whether they are alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes…or just scared, lonely, or depressed. In July 2006, I was all of those things.
I wasn’t quite homeless. I had a room at a boarding house, where I dealt drugs and prostituted myself. I hung out with other addicts, but I didn’t have any real friends. Addicts are your friends until your stash runs out, and then they’re gone. I knew that. I did that to others. And I felt incredibly alone. I believed there probably was a God, but that He had crossed me off His list. I thought He would be present for someone more worthy. I felt there was no hope for me.
Today is a day we’ve all come to associate with roses and chocolates, candlelit dinners and Hallmark cards. It is a day that we spend focused on showing love to our significant others and those we already have deep relationships with. Love is such an important part of life, especially a life centered on Christ, but how do we show love to those that we don’t know as well? Here is some inspiration, eight ways we can show love to our neighbors.
1. Take a moment to introduce yourself
In today’s culture of technology and constant connection it seems like we have stopped making time for people. So, do something that may be unexpected, go on a walk and introduce yourself to the people you cross paths with. Be sure to welcome new people to your neighborhood. Open yourself up to having a conversation with someone new, and you never know what may grow from that simple hello.
This blog is part 2 of a 3 part series. You can read part 1 of the series here.
Our study of the parable of The Good Samaritan first considered the question: Who are the people we are to love? Now we explore the process through which the Samaritan showed neighborly love.
What happened in this story? The Samaritan came across a man lying in the road “half-dead” and took “pity” on him. (Luke 10: 30,33) However, it is not the encounter or even the pity that teaches us about neighborly love, rather it is compassion moved to action.
“He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” Luke 10:34
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38
Apply God’s truth, perform Acts of Love, and conduct yourselves in obedience to God. These are the three core ideas behind the teachings of TCT. Often we find that the Church in Asia is one-track-minded, focusing on evangelism and not expanding beyond that. Churches see their soul purpose as serving the spiritual needs of their community and gaining more followers of Christ.
However, there are more and more churches in Asia that see their responsibility reaching beyond spiritual needs. One such church is led by Pastor Phillip. He grew up in a small agricultural village, attended Bible school as a young adult and then returned to his home village to minister to his community. He has helped to grow an amazing community of believers that truly believe in God’s power and want to share His love with everyone around them.
I’ll never forget last summer when an old man came to my front door in the blazing heat of the desert, face sweating and hands shaking.
He desperately asked if he could pull our weeds for some money, and I cold-heartedly sent him away and shut the door. It was because his presence made me too uncomfortable and I just wanted him out of my sight. That was a sin, I believe, and I am forgiven even though it still hurts.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with the volume of need in our world and what I can actually do about it. My friend who works with Reconciled World in India, reminded me last week that every follower of Jesus is held accountable for his or her own corner—we are not responsible for the whole world. What freedom! At the same time, “every little bit counts … we just need to keep doing what we are called to do,” she said. Continue reading
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells an expert in biblical law that the path to eternal life is to obey the commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The law expert, wanting to justify himself, then asked, “But who is my neighbor?”
The expert in the law must have thought he would stump Jesus with that question. After all, surely not everyone can be my neighbor! Jesus answers by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The parable teaches followers of Jesus three elements of loving our neighbor: the people, the process, and the perspective. In this three-part series, we’ll look at each of those elements. This post focuses on the people and tries to honestly reflect on the question, “Who is my neighbor?”