This was originally posted on October 14, 2013, but we wanted to share it with you again.
Jesus: Our model for loving others
How should my life (words, actions and decisions) reflect my relationship and pursuit of Christ?
If a person is walking with God on the inside, then their life (words, decisions, and actions done out of obedience to God) should reflect a distinct character on the outside.
Put a face to that label.
That is the challenge I face today. I know “who” to help, that one is rather easy: the vulnerable. But I sometimes struggle to really know who to help. Let me explain.
The Bible takes no short cuts in challenging Christians to follow in the footsteps of God and love the vulnerable. Take Zechariah 7:9-10 for example:
“This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor.”
It’s pretty self-explanatory by reading scripture that a care for the downtrodden, poor, vulnerable, marginalized, etc. is God’s heart and thus should be ours as well. And it is rather clear that this focus is not a choice if we follow Jesus. (1 Jn 3:16-18) In fact, it is the pure form of the religion we follow. (James 1:27)
Several years ago I was involved in a ministry at a local church that gathered food and distributed it to various ministries in our city. These ministries sought to serve the low-income families of the community. I remember the first Sunday that congregants were to bring food for the outreach… it was amazing! We had over 2,000 items donated, everything from canned food to paper towels and baby items. The ministry launch was a success! We decided to make this outreach a monthly opportunity for the church. For three months the results were great, lots of food was collected; many generous hearts had been moved.
However, after about 6 to 9 months the numbers started to decrease. The amount of food sitting in the church hallway after the monthly outreach Sunday dwindled. Soon only a few grocery bags and a small pile of cans were given. What had happened? I don’t think it was that the generosity of the people departed, or that they didn’t care, so what was the problem? Why did the ministry become a forgotten afterthought? Continue reading
One of the most famous and taught parables in the Bible is the parable of the Good Samaritan. I remember as a kid learning a street drama that was used on a mission’s trip that followed the dialogue of the Good Samaritan. It seems that everyone, no matter what culture, language or ethnicity can relate to being in a position of vulnerability. We all at times need the help of another.
Keller in this chapter does an extraordinary job taking this well-known principle and uncovering the heart of its message. As he follows the logic of the both Jesus and the teacher of the law, the reader begins to see the parable come to life. Keller than ends with this challenge:
I’ve just returned from a two month trip to North America. It was a great trip, although visiting 16 cities in that time frame is EXHAUSTING. Happy to be home to recover.
One of the things that my husband and I were doing while there is looking into the idea of TCT North America. Over the last few years, as we share the story of what has happened in Asia, we have been asked again and again, ‘What about us? Is there any way that churches in the USA could also see their communities move out of poverty?’ On this trip we tried to understand:
- What’s holding the church back, if anything?
- What do we have to offer?
- Is there really any interest or were people just being polite?
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?”