Here at the Rock last night, XXXchurch Pastor Craig Gross participated in a pornography debate with Ron Jeremy. For Ron, this was only his second time in church in forty years. It is easy to imagine, then, how Ron may have felt outcast being in church.
We must remember that Jesus called to and loved the outcasts of his day, and he continues to do so in ours. Jesus loves you, is a simple message that we can share every day with those around us: the outcasts, the skeptics, the porn stars, the gluttons no one is exempt from Jesus love.
To illustrate this point, Pastor Craigs message this morning centers around the passage of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10. In this story told by Jesus, a despised Samaritan, whose beliefs and customs were very different from those of the Jews, was a good neighbor because he went out of his way to extend compassion.
This passage is not necessarily just about reaching out to homeless people or those who are physically injured. Jesus use of the term neighbor does not simply refer to someone who lives next door, rather someone in proximity to you. He means that you are to love people who dont believe as you do, people who upset you, people who may not be likeable! When you love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), you show compassion as a good neighbor.
Here are three simple steps to show more compassion:
1) Get to know the Lord better.
There may be neighbors, people in your life or in your family that you just dont like. But the more time you spend with the Lord, getting to know His heart and seeing the love he has for them, your perspective may change. Doing good to these people then becomes easier, because the purpose behind it is genuine.
"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll neverI promiseregret it. Luke 6:34-36 (The Message)
Collectively as a church, the Rock has given 107,000 hours away in community service. Some of these hours have been given publicity or public thanks, but many, but many have gone unnoticed. But the publicity, thanks, or earthly rewards for being a good neighbor are not the reason we give. The more we know the Lord and the closer we are to His heart, the easier it is to give freely of ourselves to Him, not expecting anything in return.
2) Pray for your neighbors.
Make a list of people for whom you can pray, and start today! Pray for them specifically by name. These may be people who live near or far, people you like or dislike, your coworkers, your enemies, your friends. Pray for their hearts to be soft and for them to experience God. Pray, waiting with expectancy, knowing that God can do anything, you knowfar more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20)
You may soon realize that in addition to God changing hearts around you, he changes your heart as well.
3) Be a good neighbor.
Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can't go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love. Romans 13:8 (The Message)
Begin reaching out to others with the resources you have. Shane Claiborne, whose ministry reaches out to the poor, has composed a list of 50 ways to be a good neighbor. Here are a few:
- Fast for the 2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day.
- Contact your local crisis pregnancy center and invite a pregnant woman to live with your family.
- Ask your pastor if someone on your churchs sick list would like a visit.
- Join an open AA meeting and befriend someone there.
- Adopt a child.
- Mow your neighbors grass.
- Volunteer to tutor a kid at your local elementary school. (Try to get to know the kids family.)
(If youd like to read more, Craig has posted the full list on his website.)
Craig shared the story of Gods prompting to stop his car and introduce himself to an elderly woman, Marie, who sat outside the retirement home past which he drove every day.
His simple act of obedience sparked a wonderful relationship. Although he initially thought that he would be ministering to Marie and changing her life, he was surprised to realize that he was the one who gained from the relationship and experienced important life changes as a result.
Take the time and energy to show Gods love. Youll never regret it!