Who is our neighbor? God asks us to do something, and our tendency is to water it down. We want limitations on our doing. Owe no man nothing but love. The one nearest to us is our neighbor. Each of us can touch those in our lives. Mature in love leads to mature faith. Luke 10:25-29; Romans 13:8
Speaker(s): Pastor Renaldo Brown
Sermon # 11714
11:00 AM on 7/14/2019
P. Renaldo Brown
Good morning. Are we in this together? Can you pray with your neighbor for the message.
Luke 10:25-29, who is my neighbor? That’s a question, and it seems like our life is full of questions. P. Ben Turkia told me a few decades ago, Jesus is the answer. What’s your question? But we all have questions. Seems like we have question after question, a statement or word that requests information or that tests someone else’s knowledge. The only questions we seem to like are questions where we are doing the asking. We don’t like questions because we don’t know the answer a lot of times. We don’t like the way the question is asked or more we think deeper and try to ask ourselves, what is the purpose of the question. Why do I have to answer the question? The longer we walk with God, our life seems to have more questions and fewer answers.
In the word of God, someone has estimated there are over 3,300 questions in the Bible. In the gospels alone, Jesus Christ asked a lot of questions; he asked over 300 questions. Interestingly enough, he himself is asked under 200 but only directly answers less than 10. He asks a lot of questions and answers very little. The way he was in the gospels is the way he is with you and me, a lot of questions but few answers.
In this portion, there are some questions he is asked, and there are some questions that he asks as well. He’s introduced to a lawyer or scribe, someone skilled in the law, the Bible. This person has one plan, to trap Jesus, lead him astray, confuse him. We used to say growing up, he wants to bamboozle him. Bamboozle Jesus, pull the wool over his eyes. And that was common with Christ. It’s interesting he had a group of people follow him and their sole purpose is to trap him. Ever feel like that? As you are walking with God there are people in your life that are not going anywhere and looking to trip you up, catch you up, and point out where you fail. They kind of follow you. They’re on your job. They go out of their way to work near you and talk about you. They go out of their way. The difficult person. They don’t leave. They kind of stay. They just remain. You pray they should go, and God says they should stay. You have questions and God has no answers.
Jn 8, they tried to trap him with the woman caught in adultery. Mt 22 tried to trap him again. Ever on the hunt to trap Jesus. This smart person, this sophisticated person decided to lay a trap. He laid the trap that we all like to lay. To pretend to be dumb about something not dumb about at all. You pretend like you don’t know something that you know very well. Mal 3:13 Lord said your words are stout to me. What are you talking about? You know very well what he is talking about. Ever have the Holy Spirit convict you? What are you talking about? You know well what I’m talking about. If the Holy Spirit could raise his voice, those days he would raise his voice. He laid a trap and laid bait in the form of a question, vs. 25. Whenever someone wants to conversationally bait you, it’s always going to be a question. It’s a common one, kind of like the talk of the day. What shall we do to inherit eternal life? You can circle the word “do.” In vs. 26, Christ was far ahead of him. He sees this coming. If he can see the end from the beginning, he can see the trap. It’s kind of like the trap you lay for a mouse. The mouse comes and tastes the cheese and leaves the trap. Ever had that happen? You say you ought to use peanut butter. They come and take the peanut butter and leave the trap. Comes and takes what you put but leaves the trap there.
He answers in two ways. What is written in the law? Because obviously you know. How do you interpret it? You want me to answer the question. How do you interpret it. He turns it around on him hoping to trap Christ in a contradiction. He himself is caught. Prov. 28:10 whoever causes the righteous to fall astray in an evil way, he shall himself fall in his own way. That’s why you don’t worry about people that are around you trying to trap you. When you walk with God in a righteous way, God deals with them. They fall in their trap every time. God didn’t train you to fight your enemies. They are the responsibility of God. My problems, my enemies, my situation isn’t my responsibility. Knowing God is my responsibility. I don’t sort that other stuff out. So the trap was set. Forced in his own trap in vs. 27, he has to do something to get out of it. Now he has been given something to do. Christ gave him something to do. Vs. 28. Now he’s got to do it. Whatever you are supposed to do, do it. You answered correctly; now do it. He didn’t want a job from Christ; he wanted a trap. He didn’t get that. In hopes of escaping his own trap by justifying himself and at the same time resetting the trap for Christ, he replaces the “do” trap with the “who” trap.
Vs. 27. Instead of something to do, now it’s “who.” What he had been given to do, he can’t do. I have to reduce the “do” to clarify the “who.” Still with me? He does what a lot of people do, when they look at what God has asked them to do. The thing that is easiest to avoid they use that to God. God says love me. I can do that. Love your neighbor. I can’t do that. I’ll find a way to break the thing I can’t do. So he asked this question with the “who.” Who is my neighbor. He challenges the humanity part of the responsibility because he can’t challenge the divinity part. Who is my neighbor? It’s a deep question. It’s a deep question today. Who is my neighbor? Ask your neighbor, who is my neighbor? Who is my neighbor? In this country of locked doors, security systems, guard dogs, doorbells, cameras, who is my neighbor? Walled cities. Who is my neighbor? This particular question, the lawyer knew it was a narrow question. It’s covered in the Law in Lev. 19 but very narrowly interpreted. Neighbor means the one near to me. The person sitting beside you is your neighbor. You might not like them or know them, but they are your neighbor. The one near to me. The way this was interpreted in the Law was this: Someone who looks like me and prays like me is my neighbor. It was controversially interpreted racially. If you were not of the Jewish race or religion, you were not considered a neighbor. Every time my neighbor needs help, it is speaking about a Jew ministering to a Jew, very narrow, very, very private and very cultural. Specifically, Gentiles, non-Jews, Non-Jews, and Samaritans, half-Jews were exclusively, aggressively restricted from this.
The lawyer knew this. He wanted to see what Jesus Christ was going to do. Jesus Christ, how do you define the “who?” How do you define that? The lawyer wanted to water down the “do.” Many times God will ask you to do something and you find a way to water it down. God says, pray, and you try to pray as minimally as possible. I prayed for my food. I prayed. I’ve done it. Done! It’s all grace! I prayed. God says go to church. There’s four services a week. I’ve been to one. I’ve done it. What can I do to get by? Like in the educational system people don’t go to school to learn anymore but to pass. If I pass, I’ve done the job. Learning is a possibility and passing is a necessity. He wanted to water down the “do” in vs. 28. He wanted to limit the doing, but he didn’t want to limit the doing to God but to people for God. He wanted to reduce that. To limit the doing. When he says who is my neighbor, what is he saying? Where does my love end? When you are in a church like this one, with a lot of people, a good majority you might not even know. Sometimes we put boundaries on our love. I love the folks who went to school. I love the folks who look like me. I love the folks who live near me or I love the folks that know my name. I put boundaries. I’m like this lawyer. It can happen easily especially in a big church. It has that stadium atmosphere. You get in your car and drive away. You turn on your Tv and the people on TV are as close as the people you saw in church. We don’t know each other. Where does the love end?
This is the heart of a man or woman that has God but doesn’t know God. They want to do enough to get by. Can I walk this walk with God and do just enough to get by. God says well done thou good and almost did it servant. I want to find a way to get just by. I want to scrape. God said you need a score of 100 and you got 101. Yes, I’m in! Just enough. Seeking to justify himself and trap Christ, who is my neighbor? He challenges the “who.” Mt 18:21 like Peter did. Okay, God. Forgiveness. In the Law, it’s traditionally three or four times. How about seven? Okay, God. You said mercy. How much? Compassion, how much? The offering, how much? Are you one of those givers? Don’t raise your hand. God asked for 10. That’s all he’s getting. He’s not getting a bit more. He should be thankful he’s getting the 10. Do you know how hard I worked for this money? He should be thankful he’s getting the 10. I bled for this money. Some givers are like that. Where does our love end?
Rom 13:8 owe no man nothing but to love him. Where does that begin for me? It begins for me in the house of God. Where does that begin? Where does love end. Sadly this man knew the words of the Law well, but he didn’t know the heart of God. You can know the Bible but not the heart of God. You can do what is right but still not reveal Christ. 2 Chron. 25:2, King Amaziah did what was right in the sight of the Lord but not with a perfect heart. I can walk in here do it right, say it right, look right but the heart is wrong. I can do that. Sadly, I can do that. On the outside, she’s an amazing woman of God. He’s a spiritual man. Look at the Bible the size of a Corolla! But who am I on the inside? The inside eventually comes out. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Fake love won’t last long in the house of God or in your life. 2 Tim 3:2 it gets selfish. Mt 24:12 it runs out. I thought you loved me. That was me faking and now I’m uncovered. He knew the Law; he quoted from memory but two verses later, he didn’t know his neighbor. I know the word of God but not my neighbor. He wanted to modify the compassion of God, limit the hope of God, put boundaries around the love of God, and restrict mercy.
Christ decided to answer the second question, the first he answered with the Law and the second he took the foolish scribe by the hand with a parable and led him beyond the Law. 2 Cor. 3:6 the letter killeth but the spirit gives life. He led him beyond the law. The word of God with legs, the character of God I can see and express and experience and he used a parable to do it. He didn’t end love; he extended love. He took the love beyond what the scribe could believe and those who were listening also. Luke 10:29, When he asked the question indirectly, where does love end? In vs. 37, he answers it this way. Why does it have to in vs. 37. Why does there have to be boundaries on agape love? Why does it have to? That was his answer. Vs. 27. The lawyer takes two verses, De. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18 and blends them together in his answer. I want to divide his answer up.
There are two ways we can have our love extended with God. Rom 5:5, 2 Cor 5:14, Eph 5:2 we can walk in love two ways.
The first part of the verse is loving God. How do I love God? That’s not me walking around the bedroom saying God, I love you. There’s more expressions of love than that. It’s more than speech or reading or a sensation or feeling. How do I love God. Acts 17:27, God is near. I don’t have to go far to love God. He’s near. I can love the God who is near. Jer. 23:23, I can get close to God. I can think of it this way: Engagement. Part of my expression of loving God is drawing near to God out of love. When you love someone, it’s easy to draw near to them. If I say I love God, I’m excited to draw near to God. I look forward to drawing near to God. Engagement. I draw near to God. Then I fellowship out of love. I draw near in love and then I fellowship out of love with a God that loves me. I’m loving God. That’s one expression of me loving God. That’s one expression of me extending my love. The love God has given me I reciprocate back to God. How do I do that? I engage him and draw near to him in Heb. 10:22. I draw near to him in Ps. 46:1. I draw near to Him wherever I am. When I draw near to God, that is part of loving God. Then I fellowship with him. When you love someone, there is fellowship. I’m connected. If it’s me and God, it can be me and anything. Me and God then me and anyone. Me without God, I don’t like me. I’m too much for me and believe me I am.
The second part of the verse. This is the heavy lifting part. All of us love the devotionals and, yes, we love you Jesus (singing) – we love that part. We sing the songs. Yeah, we love Jesus, Yeah. God says we’ll lower that. Take it from the vertical to the horizontal. Now we got issues. The second part of the verse, that’s where my neighbor comes in, my neighbor comes in. Loving my neighbor in Lev 19:18. I think of it the same way as loving God. It’s the same love, is it not? Then why would it be any different. It’s still engagement. I draw near. As part of my expression of loving others. In our church we like to hug but I’m not talking about a hug. Everybody doesn’t always need a hug. Some do. I’m talking about part of expressing my love to my neighbor, expressing God’s love is engagement. I engage them by faith. Not a distance love. How are we doing? Good. Glad. Next year, catch ya! There’s got to be more than that.
Here’s an interesting statistic. Thirty-one percent of Americans do not know their neighbor. Thirty-one percent. One out of every three don’t know their neighbors at all. Here’s what’s sad about it. We are comfortable with that. If an emergency would happen in your house, you wouldn’t feel comfortable knocking on their door. They wouldn’t know you and you wouldn’t know them. A man in Chicago shot his neighbor. His neighbor was in trouble. She banged on his door at night and he thought she was a thief and shot her. He didn’t know his neighbor. We are an insecure culture. Locked doors, passwords, windows up, music blaring, etc. We live isolated, lonely lives. Alone. Many people. Loving my neighbor doesn’t mean I love from a distance. It means near love. Love the one near me. I draw near to the near one. I walk beyond the cultural barrier, the racial barrier and the religious barrier.
One time in Zambia a Muslim man, imam was always greeting me, and I would greet him. One day he was having tea alone, and I sat down and had tea with him. He said why would you do that? I said because you’re here and I want to have tea with you. But I don’t believe the way you do? That’s not the point. You never will if I never sit down. How did that happen. Do I stand in my ivory tower and say you need to get right with God? Who is my neighbor.
That’s why I love P. Ray. Pastor Ray! I love P. Ray. I don’t know if you saw him on television. How many saw him on television? I was in my house screaming. Yes! Channel 13. He was talking about the ministry to the homeless and he said, we try to give them Christ. I said, that’s on the news. That’s our church. That’s our pastor. That’s amazing. Yes. Some guys get on television and they can’t say Jesus Christ. They say we try to help them and. Huh. Bishop, Dr. Reverend, you couldn’t say Jesus on television? I digressed. Sorry. P. Ray, yes!
Beyond religion, culture, and race. This is the kingdom of God. We are in this together. God is not far, and my neighbor is my neighbor. My neighbor is not far. This is part of loving God’s way. This is how God loves. Didn’t God come to us in Jn 1:14 and Gal 4:4. Didn’t he get near to us? Didn’t he engage us? Rom 5:10, We were enemies and he engaged us anyway. We were enemies in Jn. 13:1, and he still loved us anyway. He fellowshipped with us. Luke 15:1, Publicans and sinners. Sinners! Publicans! The worse people draw near. Why did they draw near? Because he drew near first. This is how God loves. We were challenged by our pastor a few weeks ago. Could I give my summer to God, my schedule, my time. Could that involve my neighbor? Could I learn to love like that. Could I extend love like that. Is God’s love just the people you know, just for your circle of friends that deserve it? Is God’s love just for people you know their first name. Think of it. The couple across the street. The Bible school student that lives above you. The widow next door. The family up the road. Maybe. Say that with me, maybe. Maybe. Say it again. Maybe I could go and speak and sit and listen. I could talk. Maybe I can laugh a little bit. Maybe I could be a minister. But I haven’t been to Bible school. Maybe I could be a minister. But they don’t call me pastor. Maybe I could be a minister.
2 Cor. 3:6 we are all able ministers. Eph. 3:7, We all have a ministry, 2 Cor 4:1. Seeing we have this ministry, we don’t faint or quit or back up or walk away. We are gifted with the Holy Spirit. We are armed with the love of God and have a mandate to love people. We pursue the housewives, the businessmen, student, the retiree. Who is my neighbor? Say that with me. Who is my neighbor? The one that is closest to God’s mind. Say it with me. Who is my neighbor? Say it with me. The one near me that is in God’s heart. Say it again. The one next door that Jesus Christ died for. Say it again. The one who needs the love of Christ. Instead of shoving a tract in their mailbox, be the tract. Say it again. My neighbor is my ministry. It begins with me. There is no evangelist walking through the door that will go talk to my neighbor for me. Get off your knees and on your feet and talk to your neighbor. You’re not living next to the Unabomber, trust me! We thank God when you know Christ you know who your neighbor is. We’ve been armed with the word of God. We are full of so much love. We don’t have any evangelism team in this church. We are the team. We have no ministry team. We are the ministry. All of us can do that. We are in this together.
I like our pastor’s challenge. We can give God our summer, whatever is left of it. You’d be shocked when you give God a little, what he can do. Maybe on a Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. Maybe I can’t get to church for evangelism, but I walk up the street and introduce myself. Hi. I’m Tom, down the street. If you have nothing to say, just listen. Or stare uncomfortably for a few minutes! Whatever! Get to know your neighbor. Find ways. We are very creative. We are the people of God. We have the H.S.
When you extend your love, you know God in a deeper way. That’s what maturity is. We can’t mature in our faith until we mature in our love. My love is not mature until it is expressed. That’s how in Heb 13:1 brotherly love continues. It goes beyond the brothering into my neighborhood, changing the lives of people and winning the people of Christ in Baltimore.
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