Neil Penley: What kind of neighbor are YOU to the new resident across the street?

 

 

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http://archerlodgechurch.com/meet-the-pastor/

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So, we are the new kids on the block. We just started off in this town — we are just a bunch of neighbors who work together and love each other.

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For years the concept of what a neighbor is and should be has been the subject of popular culture.

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From 1968-2001 Rev. Fred Rogers dealt with the concept on his popular children’s show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, asking in song daily, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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The idea of neighbors has been made popular on other television programs as well, with Dennis the Menace troubling the life of his neighbor Mr. Wilson, on All in the Family we saw the interesting interactions of Archie and Edith Bunker with their neighbors George and Louise (Weezie) Jefferson, years later we saw Jerry Seinfield deal with his annoying but funny neighbor Kramer, and again on the hit show Home Improvement of the 90′s we saw the interactions of Tim Taylor with his quirky, but wise neighbor Wilson Wilson.

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Here in the South especially, we’d like to have a great relationship with our neighbors.

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What kind of neighbor am I?

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Jesus was approached with this question by a teacher of the law in Luke 10:29 (NKJV) ” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” ”

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Scripture says he wanted to justify himself (before the people) so he asks the question who is his neighbor.

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This man thought he had love for God down in the public eye so he wanted Jesus to publically affirm his idea of love for his neighbor.

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You see, according to Jewish custom of the day a neighbor is “someone who is near to you” or another Jew.

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This man thought Jesus would say it was another Jew, and his constant love for Judaism would shine through, making him look good.

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However, Jesus didn’t do that.

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Jesus gave him a lesson in compassion, and what it means to love your neighbor.

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The first lesson Jesus would teach them is  that compassion is based on need, not worth.

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If we want to create neighbors and love them we have to love people

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not based on their worth in the community, not based on social standing, or finances but we must extend a helping and loving hand to them because they need it.

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Jesus tells the young man a parable about a man going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho this was an extremely rocky, dangerous road in which thieves loved to hide, and as a result this man fell prey to thieves.

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Who was this man?

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As far as we know he is nobody. Jesus didn’t even give him a name or describe. Jesus could have said this man was a community leader, or this man was a Jew so the Jews hearing the story, would be sympathetic, but he didn’t, he simply called him in verse 30 “a certain man.”

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The Priest and the Levite passed by him and saw a nobody,

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but this Samaritan passed by him and didn’t get concerned with his politics or status he saw a man who needed help and he had compassion on him because he needed it.

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The second lesson here is compassion feels the hurts of others.

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In this parable we see all the people that should have had compassion, we see all the so-called spiritual people who felt nothing for this man but disdain.

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How do I know that?

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Look at their actions.

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Along comes a priest, he sees the man and he doesn’t even check on him, he goes to the other side of the road.

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I believe the reason for this was simple, as a priest he was so concerned about being ceremonially clean that he was afraid if he touched this man and he was dead he would be unclean and would have to go wash,

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so even checking on this man could create a great inconvenience.

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So instead of checking on him and being concerned, he goes out of his way to avoid him, going to the other side of the road.

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Next comes a Levite, he’s like an assistant-priest if you will, he too should be religious enough to have felt something for this man, but he doesn’t.

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Again, he goes to the other side of the road.

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I love how when Jesus tells the story that this man thought would make him look good, it only made his ideology of only helping one’s own look worse.

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Then I notice something, Jesus brings into the story a Samaritan,

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to the Jews a Samaritan was the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low.

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If you wanted to insult someday of the day you didn’t talk about their momma, you called them a Samaritan.

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They literally called the Samaritans dogs to their faces. This low of the low comes along and he isn’t so holy that he doesn’t stop, but when he says this man he sees him and feels something for him.

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This verse made me think about something…I thought of how many times the New Testament speaks about compassion.

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There are six mentions of compassion in Matthew alone (9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 18:27, 18:33, and 20:34). Of the six, four deal with Jesus directly

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while the other two are found in a parable where Jesus talks about compassion.

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We see time and time again where Jesus was with a crowd of sick people,

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or when he encounters lepers, or demon possessed,

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and he is moved with compassion not because of their worth but because of their need.

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He feels there pain.

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Compassion goes beyond realizing a need,

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compassion puts you in that person’s shoes

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and you began to feel their pain

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and you treat them as you would want someone to treat you if it were you.

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The third lesson is that compassion is love in action.

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Verse 34 tells us “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

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Look at all the love and care there.

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He does the dirty work, showing love in a tangible way, lowering himself to touch this bloody battered man, and with care and love he bandaged his wounds.

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I love how scripture says, he went to them and bandaged his wounds,

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I wonder how many times when we see people hurting,

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do we go to them and try and help bandage their wounds,

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or do we treat them like the priest and try and avoid coming in contact with them because it might be an inconvenience.

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Not only does this man go to him and help him, he puts him on his animal preferring the other man,

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and walking to the inn while the injured man rode the animal.

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He put him first and inconvenienced himself, all while showing God’s love.

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The fourth lesson is compassion comes with a price.

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Look at verse 35 “On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.”

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This may not seem like much, but two denarii was two days wages, how easy would it be for me to give up two day’s pay to help someone else?

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Would you do it expecting nothing in return?

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Not only was willing to pay the price to help this man, expecting nothing he was willing to pay more.

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Many times we try and help someone but we do so with the understanding they are only getting one chance, or two chances, but this man was willing to pay the price.

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If we truly want to be good neighbors to one another

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we will approach each other with the understanding that,

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I will continue to be willing to pay the price to give you compassion when you need it.

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I will not give up on you,

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because Jesus didn’t give up on me.

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The final lesson is compassion is living our faith.

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Notice how Jesus closes this story in verse 36 “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”37

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And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

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Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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Go and do likewise,

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in other words, go live it.

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Live compassion.

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Live a life that says to others,

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just as Mr. Roger’s famously said, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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