Grow: Discovering Love (Week 2)

“Growing a Culture of Compassion”

 
This week two of our elders share with us:  Scott Underwood and Chris Logan. 
 

 

Scott Underwood

 
  • Intro and the muppets
    • Elders and trustee make up the officers, whose job it is to lead the church, in conjunction with all the ministry team leaders.
    • We meet once a month as officers and then again as elders
    • Despite our differences, Chris and I sit together most meetings and have earned a certain reputation.
    • Picture of the Muppets
  • The specific job of the Elders is lead the church in following Jesus, taking care of the flock and equipping them for acts of service
  • We take a couple times of year to share our hearts so you know more about us
  • Today we are going to talk about the second half of Ken’s sermon from last week and then share a little bit on where we think the church is today and is going
  • The title of today is Discovering Love – Growing a Culture of Compassion

 

The scripture for today is the fairly well know story of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10: 25-37. 
 
 
Like many of Jesus’ stories, the story is important, but the reason for the story is also relevant.
 
If we back up a bit from the GS, we can learn a little more about the context of the story. 
 

 

As we see from the scripture, Jesus was prompted to tell the story by an expert in the law who is testing Him.  As a starting point, what does it imply when someone is testing someone else?  “I already know the answer, and I want to see if you do too.  I’m in a position of superiority because I have the right to test you.”

As a starting point, what is going on in the heart of the expert of the law?  How does that relate to what sometimes goes on in our heart?  How do we test God? 

 

I would say that every time we know we are supposed to do something and we don’t do it, we are testing God.  “I know that you have said that I am supposed to forgive this person, but I haven’t, and there don’t seem to be any consequences, so why should I obey?”  It sounds a little like Satan in the Garden.  “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 

If we truly believed him, we would obey his commands, not look to test Him.

 

After Jesus answered him the first time, the expert dove in again, this time to “justify himself.”  Now, I thought I knew what the word “justify” meant, but I looked it up in the dictionary to make sure I did.  Here’s what I found . . .

  1. Secular definition – show or prove to be right or reasonable
  2. Theological definition – declare or make righteous in the sight of God.

 

Whether Luke meant either of the two definitions, both are convicting.  The first one implies an interaction with Jesus where the person administering the test wants to argue with the answer of Jesus.  The second one suggests the attempt of the expert to “check the boxes” of his own righteousness, apart from grace of Jesus or the obedience in his heart to Jesus’ teachings.

 

Before we even get to the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke has taught us lessons about humility and self-justification.

So now Jesus tells the story of the GS.  I have to believe when Jesus started into the story instead of giving a simple answer, the expert in the law started to get nervous.

 

After the sections about the Levite and the priest passing by the injured man, Jesus gets to the section about the Samaritan.  I know that Jerry covered this story before he left, but it certainly bears repeating, especially in our current political and economic climate.  As you may know, to make the hero of the story a Samaritan was offensive to all of the Jews that were listening.  It would be like going to a Trump rally and making a Democrat the hero of the story, or going to a Democratic rally and making President Trump the hero.  Not popular, and not a good start for Jesus.  The fact that he contrasted the Samaritan against people of their own “parties” was further insult.

 

But on he went with the story.  And as he told the story of the Samaritan’s encounter with the injured man, he said something that I think is the key to the whole story.  The second half of verse 33 said, “and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”  First, he saw him – really saw him.  Not as an impediment to the completion of his daily tasks or an obstacle to be avoided, but saw him in his injured condition.  The priest and the Levite saw the injured man too, but never really saw him in his true condition.

 

And then the Samaritan “took pity on him.”  Pity is a weird word in 2019.  It often has a negative connotation – “I don’t want your pity” or “Don’t pity me.”  Even worse, to be considered “pitiful”. 

But pity is simply another word for compassion.  And we find Jesus being compassionate on numerous occasions –

  • He had compassion on a large crowd and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14)
  • He had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him (Matthew 20:34)
  • He had compassion on the people at the feeding of the 5,000
  • He had compassion on the crowds, because they were harassed and helpless (pitiful), like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36 and Mark 6:34)

 

And so the hero of the story is compassionate.  If we are going to be called Jesus followers, we have to do what he does, say what he says, and have a heart that is modeled after His.
 

As a side note, 2 Corinthians 1:3 praises the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.  Jesus is just simply doing the Father’s will by being compassionate.

 

Many of us are already compassionate, especially to those who close to us or like us.  But here’s a harder question – How we doing with those people who not close to us or not like us or maybe even enemies to us?  Dems vs Republicans, white vs black, liberals vs conservatives, illegal immigrants, LBGTBQ, pro life vs pro choice, criminals, etc.  Do we have compassion on these people, or do our politics or preferences come before the words and deeds of Jesus?

If we get the compassion right, we have a much better chance of getting the love and service right, even if we don’t do it perfectly.

If we get the compassion right, we have a much better chance of getting the love and service right, even if we don’t do it perfectly.  If we see thru the eyes of Jesus and our heart is with His heart, we have the Holy Spirit to help us get it right. When we look at this story, the man who was beaten had a variety of needs.  Hope, transportation, medical care, food and lodging among others.

 

As a brief commercial for next week’s Gary Chapman The Five Love Languages workshop, it’s interesting to note that the injured man’s needs loosely line up with the 5 love languages.  He needed

  • Words of affirmation (hope)
  • Physical touch – bandaged his wound, pouring on oil and wine
  • Receiving Gifts – paid for the inn and care
  • Quality time – he went with the man to the inn and took care of him
  • Acts of service – the whole thing

 

If you know anything about the concept of the love languages, they are based on the idea that you need to understand and care about the other person’s preferred love language and then adjust yourself to meet them where they are.  Buying and giving expensive gifts (because it’s easy for you to do) may do nothing to show your significant other love. You have to do what they want and value, even if it costs you everything. 

 

In the story, The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, we learn about a young couple, who like so many others, are struggling financially.  As they have been saving for Christmas presents for each other, they find that they have not been able to scrape together much more than a few cents.  They really only have two things of value – the husband’s inherited gold pocket watch and the wife’s beautiful long hair.  As the couple struggles to buy each other a treasured present, the husband sells the watch to buy the wife an ornate comb for her beautiful hair, and the wife sells her hair to a wig maker to buy her husband a chain for his treasured pocket watch.  Now, whether that was their love language or not, the thought behind giving up what you value to give someone else what they value is clearly evident.  It’s about the heart.

 

But let’s go back to the Good Samaritan – It’s also interesting that the story doesn’t involve our present day go-to maneuver, the “I’ll pray for you and walk away” maneuver.  I believe that many times we are put in that situation specifically to meet the presenting need.  If we don’t want to help, our prayer then becomes, “God please send someone who isn’t me to help this person.” 

 

A questions for all of us If we are able to meet the need – what or who are we praying for?  Someone who has the gift of service or more time or something else?

 

James 2: 14-17 (NLT) says, 14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

 

In our emphasis on prayer, I fear that we have erred too far on the “I’ll pray for you” end of the spectrum and missed our opportunities to meet the needs right then and there.

 

There are many reasons for not meeting the need, but if often comes back to one foundational problem – putting our own needs/wants over the needs of others, and often over the call and example of Jesus.  And now we are back to a question that would fit right in with our expert in the law from the Good Samaritan story. 

 

If there are no immediate, visible consequences from our disobedience, why not serve ourselves first?

 

Well, if you believe Jesus, there are consequences and promises –

 

Mark 8:35 (NLT) – If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.

 

Mark 10:28-31 (NLT)28Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.

29“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.g

 

As elders, we are encouraging us all to live a life that follows Jesus.  Notice I didn’t say be a better Baptist or church member or even a Christian.  Many people can be a Baptist, Christian or church member without following Jesus on a daily basis.  Many can be those things with very few signs of the compassion of Jesus in their lives. 

 

So as we move toward to Christmas and 2020, we are going to be encouraging our body to have a culture of compassion and service to our community – to live and give generously to meet the needs of our neighbors.   When we look at our mission statement, we have to realize that the stories that need to be transformed are not just ours, but our neighbors, friends and enemies.  We have no hope of our communities thriving if we all are not transformed.
 
 
 
Chris Logan (begins at (16:57)
 
I thought about my own culture this week and came to some startling revelations…
  • I do what I want
  • I am competitive
Hebrews 13:8
1 Peter 5:2
Matthew 9:13
 
God desires mercy!  Forgiveness, grace, forbearance, etc.
 
We have one mission:  The Great Commission!
 
I find it hard to surrender, but we must.  Our community needs restoration.
 
Back to Culture…  Basically it is our Comfort Zone.
 
Matthew 5:45-48
 
Reconciliation is only through Jesus Christ!
 
Our culture (in the body of Christ) should revolve around the Promises of God.
 
Our culture (in the body of Christ) should revolve around the Promises of God.
 
They are all throughout the Bible.  If you don’t know where to look, Google them!  There are all kinds of lists of God’s wonderful promises.
 
Examples;
Isaiah 40:29
Isaiah 54:7
James 4:7  Submit to God, resist temptation and the devil will flee!
1 John 1:9   Confess your sins and He is faithful to forgive.  (Confession is acknowledging your sins to God.)
Psalm 34
2 Peter 1:3-10
 
(These Notes for Chris’ talk were made by the editor.  To see his notes click HERE.)
 
Listen to the Elders’ message here:
 

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