Sermon Notes from our Pastors

 
 

MAY 2022 Theme: “Try a Little Kindness”

 
You’ve got to try a little kindness; show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of a broken-hearted people on their broken-hearted streets.https://youtu.be/8GzLHgdz4ag
 

The chorus of this 1969 song “Try a little kindness” sung by Glen Campbell (this version sung by the Doane Uschool) reminds us that a very simple thing like kindness can make a big difference not just to others, but also in changing our own perspective. The Uschool version replaces the chorus’ last line with, “Of a broken-hearted people on their broken-hearted streets”. This language reflects an image and feeling many of us can relate to across our country.  Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Is it possible that we may have forgotten or overlooked the kindness that was integral to Jesus’ dealings with people?


May 22, 2022

Who Is My Neighbor? Sermon Notes 

If we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we sometimes worry how helping or sharing with others will impact us, our future, and our security. But Jesus teaches us something different in Luke 10:25-37. I encourage you to read it on your own.

In verse 25, the expert in religious law asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He didn’t ask Jesus this question because he was truly curious. You see, he already knew the answer because being an “expert in religious law” meant that He knew the Scriptures inside and out, front to back—he knew all of the words and all of the commandments. But what he was doing in asking Jesus this question was seeking assurance in the way he kept the Law and obeyed what he thought Scripture taught.

And as is often the case, in response to this man’s question, Jesus directed the question back to him by asking:

26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ ‘How do you read it?’

Essentially, Jesus was asking this expert in religious Law what the Scriptures say about eternal life. Now, remember—this man was a religious expert, so of course he knew what Scripture said. And Jesus knew he would know the answer, but He wanted to teach him something much deeper here. The religious expert responded with, ‘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.’

Jesus wasn’t only asking this man what the Scriptures say, but also how they were going to change what he thought, said, and did—how they were going to change his life.

Jesus then told this religious expert, “Do this and you will live.”

Jesus was not teaching that we earn salvation by loving our neighbor. He was emphasizing that loving our neighbor is a symptom of loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. But there’s more going on with this word “neighbor” than we might realize at first glance. The Greek word was defined as more than just the person who lives nearby; it was a broader word than that.

In verse 29, the religious expert wanted to justify himself so he asked Jesus, ”And who is my neighbor?” This expert—while limited in his view—recognized that the responsibility to love others was bigger than just those living in close proximity to him. Perhaps—deep down—he knew his definition of neighbor—even if a little big—was not big enough. He was looking for that checklist. Exactly who do I need to love? Where is the line drawn? Are there any non-neighbors? Are there any people I don’t have to love?

“Who is my neighbor?” is a question we still ask ourselves today. We look for where the line is drawn when it comes to loving or not loving others.

Jesus then told a parable to answer the religious expert’s question. In the parable, a man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. A priest walked by and ignored the man. Then a Levite walked by and ignored the man. But then a Samaritan came and went above and beyond to help the man. The fact that a Samaritan was the hero of the story would have been shocking to this religious expert and other Jews of the day because they had extremely negative views of Samaritans and did everything they could to avoid them. They did not view Samaritans as neighbors. After telling the parable, Jesus asks the religious expert which of the three men in the story was the neighbor to the injured man on the side of the road. To this, the religious expert said, “The one who had mercy on him.” And then Jesus told him to, “Go and do likewise.”

What Jesus was doing in telling this parable was forcing this religious expert to look deep inside of himself. Author Brennan Manning, in his book Abba’s Child, talks about an impostor—or this false self—that lives inside all of us. The impostor inside of this religious expert was a person who was preoccupied with acceptance and approval. He lived with a compulsive desire to present a perfect image so that everyone would admire him, but no one would know him.

Jesus was making this religious expert reexamine how he saw God and how God saw people, especially the marginalized. Jesus was challenging this man’s biases and asking him to think and act differently.

When Jesus says to “Go and do likewise,” He is calling each and every one of us to be the neighbor—to go beyond what is required, to empathize with those who suffer in ways we don’t, and to ask, “How can I demonstrate the love of Jesus during this time?”

What does “neighboring” look like? It looks like loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. What does loving God that way look like? It looks like loving others the way that Jesus loves them. It means being a neighbor to everyone, not just the ones we like.

The truth of the matter is that if we are not neighboring well, then we are not loving God well.

Jesus came to Earth to be our neighbor, show us love, offer us forgiveness, and demonstrate for us how to best love God and love others. So let’s follow His example and be known as people who neighbor well!

What is one way—large or small—that you can be a neighbor this week?