Pandemic Neighboring

Hello Church Family:
Throughout Scripture, we as believers are called to love our neighbors. In fact, Jesus says that the entire Law and the Prophets can be summed up in two commandments, love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). Then in Luke 10, Jesus was asked by an Old Testament lawyer, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” What was Jesus’ answer? “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). God has taught His people to love their neighbor ever since the days of Abraham and Moses. Loving our neighbor is a big deal! Not loving our neighbor makes us a “goat” separated from the “sheep” in Matthew 25. The outcome is not good for goats, go read the chapter.
What does this gospel neighboring look like? Very clearly in the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus answers the question of what does neighboring look like. This parable in Luke 10:25-37, shows us that in gospel neighboring Jesus expects us to meet the needs of our neighbor with all of the energy, with all of the joy, with all of the speed, with all the determination, and with all the creativity that we meet our own needs. That is gospel neighboring. As you can see it is not just a checklist but a life filled with compassion.
 
Does our call to gospel neighboring change during a pandemic? Absolutely not! In fact, I believe that in this Good Samaritan parable, Jesus is showing us that during a pandemic or any other crisis is when gospel neighboring should be most widespread amongst Christians. The Good Samaritan endured great risk when he stopped to help the man that had been beaten, robbed, stripped naked and left for dead. The Good Samaritan knew that the robbers were most likely nearby. That is why the religious Priest and Levite quickly hurried on by. They thought to themselves, this place is much too dangerous to stop and help. I need to move to the other side of the road and not take another look. I cannot possibly stop and help I might be beaten and robbed myself. Jesus shows us in this parable that the Levite and the Priest did just the opposite of the neighboring He calls us to live out.
 
What was the difference? The Samaritan saw the half-dead, naked man in the ditch and had compassion. The Samaritan knew what it was like to be in the ditch. He considered what the half-dead man was feeling and needing. The Samaritan put himself in the half-dead man’s situation. The religious Priest and Levite just saw their duty to be a loving neighbor as just another line item on the checklist. There was no compassion on their part. They simply kept their heads down, moved to the other side of the road and pretended that they did not see the man in need. This type of neighboring is in no way fruit from a life that has been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. The heart of the gospel proclaims that Jesus came and had compassion upon us, His enemies, even while we were still in the ditch of sin and misery. We were spiritually just like this man, and He rescued us knowing that it would take Him dying on the cross. Jesus wants us to understand that we will never be able to live out risky gospel neighboring until we understand that we are recipients of His gospel neighboring of free grace, even while we were yet still sinners Christ died for us, with great compassion.
 
Pandemic neighboring may be risky but we are still called to be living it out in the lives of everyone who is not us, our neighbors.
 
I look forward to worshiping with you again Sunday either in person at 10am in the church building or via YouTube livestream on our Grace Community Church Topsail YouTube Channel.
 
Luke 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.

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