God Cares For Us Through One Another
December 10, 2022
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12;28-31)
This is strong stuff and we need help in doing this. The trip-up word here is, "all." God says, "All," and the best we can do is some. In fact, if we're honest, many times we don't even do it. Love doesn't sound dangerous until you've tried it. Dangerous. Perhaps when it comes to the second greatest commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself." To get both commandment jobs done we need Jesus both in us and before us. It's Christ in us who is our example and hope. He gives us the power to love when love is difficult. Jesus said, "apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). We love God by loving our neighbor. 1 John 4:20-21 says as paraphrased in THE MESSAGE. "If anyone boasts, 'I love God' and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see?" Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both, in a broken world we need each other.
Who is my neighbor? This is the question the religious teacher asked, wanting to justify himself, according to Luke. The Message puts it this way: "Looking for a loophole," he asked, "and just how would you define neighbor?" The religious teacher wanted to know just how far open the neighborliness door must swing to guarantee him eternal life. Two things may be surmised here; He thought Heaven was a good-works deal. He had in mind some folks whom he didn't think deserved his neighborliness.
Now it should be pointed out here that neighbors can be risky. business. You might get burned in the process, or criticized for not being "politically correct," or robbed. Maybe the neighbor we help never ends up coming to church, or goes back to the way we found them.
A teenager once asked me, "will you still be my friend even if I never accept your Jesus?" I want our church to be a safe place, but not necessarily a tidy place in relationship to ministry. Ministry can be messy, and that's the risk. We won't always be right; not everything we do or try will work or come off the way we'd hoped. But we'll become known as neighbors.
Some guidelines to help you be a good neighbor:
1. Make true need the basis for your response.
2. Allow your eyes to inform your feet.
3. Allow your heart to determine your response.
4. Neighbor-love kneels; it becomes the needy neighbor's servant but not a slave.
5. Let your resources help meet anothers need
6. Let love not theology determine your action.
7. Put yourself in their shoes.
George MacDonald wrote; "A man must not choose his neighbor, he must take the neighbor God sends him." Now, go and do likewise.
Until next time,