We’re going to read in Luke chapter 10 verse 25 and it says on one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus teacher he asked what must I do to inherit eternal life what is written in the law, he answered 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 love your neighbor as yourself. You’ve answered correctly Jesus replied do this and you will live but he wanted to justify himself so he asked Jesus and who is my neighbor?
In reply Jesus said a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers they stripped him of his clothes beat him and went away leaving him half dead a priest happened to be going down the road the same time when he saw the man he passed by on the other side so too a levite when he came to the place and saw him passed by on the other side but as Samaritan as he traveled came where the man was and when he saw him he took pity on him he went to him and bandaged his wounds pouring on oil and wine then he put the man on his own donkey brought him to an inn and took care of him the next day he took out two denarii and gave him to the Innkeeper look after him he said and when I return I’ll reimburse you for any extra expense you may have which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers the expert in the law replied the one who had mercy on him Jesus told him go and do likewise.
Now I love this Parable because Jesus is very very particular in what he is sharing and what he is not sharing because he knows that if he shares certain details it’ll get a certain response if he withholds some it’ll get a different response so the one detail that he does share kind of at the beginning was this man was going from Jerusalem down to Jericho and instantly readers of the day would be going oh no oh no this isn’t good.
Because the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was actually one of the most treacherous roads you could go down not because it was dangerous in a physical sense it was dangerous because it was where people would kind of like the crime and all the murders and all those type of things would be happening along that road so if you were traveling down Jerusalem to Jericho you’re kind of in trouble usually what you would do is you would travel in a group that’s what you would do if you’re making that trip so when they hear that they hear he’s on this treacherous road where he is undoubtedly going to get robbed he’s undoubtedly going to get into trouble and he’s doing it by himself.
So instantly they’re thinking oh this guy this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing and so the lawyer or any of the listeners at that time would kind of be trying to pick out okay give me more details about the guy like I need to know a little bit more should I care about him because he’s already made a huge mistake and let’s see whether I should actually be a neighbor to this guy and so Jesus is once again very withholding he says he’s a certain man he doesn’t say oh he’s a gentile man or he’s a Samaritan man where they’d be like oh okay good good I’m glad I’m glad that guy’s getting beaten up.
You know there was a law back then which was really messed up which was Rabbis taught that if there was a gentile woman who was giving birth on the side of the road if you were a Jewish person you were not to help her because in their viewpoint they were like you were bringing another one of our enemies into the world do not help them so that’s their view so if I said it’s a gentile woman or a gentile man walking down the road they would instantly say no he got what he deserved right so we don’t know what ethnicity your tribe he is the next thing to look for is maybe he says something that’ll give away some language or some speech that would give away who he is but it says he gets beaten half to death so not really getting a win in that category either and then it says that he was stripped of all his clothes so any kind of signifier a garment the giveaway where he’s from it’s all gone.
It’s almost like Jesus is saying I’m not letting you off the hook here you’re looking for an out in this story where you can clarify who is a neighbor and who’s not a neighbor and I actually think the lawyer was far more interested in who’s not my neighbor who do I not have to care about who do I not have to reach out to who do I not have a responsibility to gosh what a what a lovely guy right right so Jesus was trying to be very vague so that way he would relate to him he would actually go oh this guy has some worth and value and I should care for him the far more important question to Jesus was are you being a neighbor versus who is my neighbor.
You know last week we started our vision Sunday and we had three things that we said I won’t shout him out because you know I won’t get you to shout him out because they’re already on the stage so it’d be cheating but it’s where fruitful we’re thriving and we’re reaching and really the overall word is reach right we believe that this year we are going to reach out to people we are going to reach out to our community we are going to be like in Genesis 49 verse 22 where it speaks of the vines going over the wall that’s what we are going to do.
I think we need to start recognizing have we carved up our own neighborhood our own little space our own little group or our only groups of people that we will reach out to or are there more are we passing them by on the road because we’ve all got a neighborhood but my question is how big is your neighborhood do you have a really big one or do you just have like a quiet little cul-de-sac like a little little turn in and it just goes around in a loop and out or is your neighborhood huge who are you a neighbor to are you with me?
This morning church so this morning I want to talk about neighborhoods neighborhoods because I believe that actually a lot of time when we’re reaching we do it on accident we do it on accident it just comes across our path we do it without intention and I believe sometimes that happens and that’s fine nothing wrong with that but I believe there should be something within our hearts to be intentional towards reaching out reaching out and reaching over the walls so the first thing is a good neighbor is interrupted turn to the person next to you and say a good neighbor is interrupted we’re actually going to pick from all three of the people in the story not including the certain men the half dead guy doesn’t really do much but we’re going to pick from the other three.
Because I think there’s things that we can relate to in their story and glean from and the first person in the story after the certain man is the Rob and the robbers is the priest and it speaks of how he came down and saw him and then he passed on the other side now when I was a kid and I read that story I had this picture in my mind for some weird reason of like this big two-lane road with curbs on either side and so when I ever I saw that story I would think in my mind of a priest walking down a curb seeing the man who’s in trouble and then going I’m gonna go all the way over to the other side to the other curb and keep walking so there might be the potential that people think oh the priest didn’t see him he crossed before he saw the man if he just stayed on the path he would have seen him.
But actually when you look at the road that Jesus is describing it is very tight it is very very tight so in order for the priest to actually sidestep him he kind of doesn’t have much room so it’s an intentional effort on his part to not help this guy it wasn’t like you could say oh we didn’t see him he definitely saw him so what was he up to why did he just immediately move to the other side what is left of it to get on with his day a lot of Scholars and theologians think maybe a couple of reasons one could be that he had Priestly duties to attend to but Jerusalem was kind of where you did that so if he’s coming down from Jerusalem towards Jericho he’s not really up to his Priestly duties the second thing was there was all these rules around you couldn’t get in close contact with like the dead bodies and things like that because you might defile yourself and especially that was very hard for a priest there was actually like some cubits there was like a minimum requirement of how close you could get don’t you love that we live in 2023 right.
If you if you were dying on the ground I will come to you okay don’t worry I’m not going to get out my little tape measure and be like that’s as far as I go okay but even then there were actually laws that if there was a dead body you were supposed to help you’re supposed to get that body and help bury it take it to whoever is responsible or cares for that person so both of those excuses don’t really hold water so why was he in such a rush no idea you can go home now that’s great right but it’s very apparent that whatever he was going to was of far more importance and value than that man and I think we as Christians sometimes we don’t in this example we think I would help the man but in our day-to-day lives God brings opportunity our way right across our path and we’re in such a rush to get to where we need to go that we don’t allow ourselves to be interrupted.
You with me you know in Psalm 33 verse 1 it says sing joyfully to the Lord you righteous it is fitting for the upright to praise him praise the Lord with the harp make music to him on the ten string Leah sing to him a new song play skillfully and Shout for Joy all my Pentecostals in the room getting excited right now right yep for the word of the Lord is right and true he is faithful in all he does the lord loves righteousness and Justice the Earth is full of his unfailing love by the word of the Lord the heavens will make their Starry host by the breath of his mouth he gathers the water of the sea into jars he puts the deep into storehouses let all the Earth fear the lord let all the people of the world Revere him for he spoke and it came to be he commanded and it stood firm amen ready for this one the Lord foils the plans of the nations he no amens for that okay but the plans of the Lord stand firm forever the purposes of the heart his heart through all generations.
So you start passage like amen is now God So Glorious so amazing Don’t We Love Our God and then it gets even further and you’re like yes yes and then it says he thwarts the purposes and the plans of people God is a thwarter and we like it when he thoughts our enemies how do we feel when he thwarts ours turn to the person next to you and say thought oh gosh that’s a tongue tie what happens when the plans of God overcome ours when he overcomes ours I have found God doesn’t like to operate on our schedule he likes to interrupt and interject whenever he likes you know you we sometimes open this Altar for prayer and people come forward and imagine if like you know Janet sheer Pastor Janet full of faith and expectation comes up to you and says hey I’ve got a word for you.
God’s going to give you an opportunity this week and you go before you give me that word when this week is it on Thursday or Friday because I’m very busy that day I mean I can make room if it’s like you know you’re going to win the lottery or something like that I can make room for that if it’s a I have to minister to someone someone’s in a really bad shape and I’m gonna have to sit down with them and be with them I can maybe fit in a 15-minute window but that’s the most I can do and you you wouldn’t do that would you you kind of received the word and you know God is going to interject in your circumstances right God’s interruptions sometimes can feel like an invasion a disruption to what we want to do what we want to accomplish when he brings people and opportunity along our path it can feel like an interruption.
But I want us to change our mindset it is not an interruption it’s an appointment so this week as you’re going about your week and you find that thing where God is up to something where you know God is up to something can we not have that moment that that fear within us where we’re like oh no can it be oh I’m I’m not going to miss my appointment I’m going to stay with the appointment this isn’t an interruption this isn’t an invasion this isn’t a disruption this is God appointing me at this time to be his hands and feet that out of everyone he’s chosen me to do that you know in Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this we must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.
God will constantly be crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions we may pass them by preoccupied with our more important tasks it is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them they think that they are doing God a service in this but actually they are disdaining God’s crooked yet straight path in that story we see the Samaritan come along the man who’s in trouble who’s half dead and he recognized the appointment he recognized the appointment maybe that wasn’t the schedule for the day.
Maybe that wasn’t on the cards but he made time and he made room for him are you with me when it comes to Bringing In The Gospel and opening our hearts to people some of us leap for joy we eat those things up we love it we love it and there’s other and other people in this room right now who if I’m talking about evangelism witnessing ministering to people a part of you goes oh like you don’t want me to make eye contact with you right now you want me to pretend you’re in the first category when really we’re in the second category right but let’s ask ourselves this when was our last God interruption over the past few months the past year when have you felt God thwart your plans come in and have something completely different if we can’t recognize that I would hazard to guess where like the priest who’s in a rush to get going and we actually may not even have the discernment anymore to recognize when you’re actually in the middle of a God appointment we think we can put it off and put it to the side but God is disrupting our plans what is our response to those interruptions because our response will show what we value and what we truly care about like I said some of us eat those things up and we love it some of us shriek in terror and run in the other direction or some of us are too busy and don’t think it can fit in what we’ve got what we value is what we appoint in our lives you with me.
I even remember you know I love the the times where God does something where he brings an appointment along our path and you you kind of go God I see what you’re doing I see what you’re up to I can see your fingerprints all over this situation um Jess and I had this family that we knew who were having a baby um and they were so excited to have it and then that child was born and was born with one of the rarest genetic disorders you can have I’d never heard of it before I could not even pronounce it was this this strange phrase and the unfortunate thing was there was the potential that with this genetic disorder this little boy was not going to live until adulthood that because of how that works he would die or pass away much sooner would maybe get to the end of his childhood.
That’s the most they could expect and I remember them feeling so alone in hospital they didn’t know anyone who had this like who has something like this they were expecting to just go home with their child and everything be great and so we went to the hospital to sit down with them and we encouraged them we built faith into them Jess was like working on another ward in the hospital and she got off the ward and came down to be with them and I remember sitting with them talking with them because we obviously don’t have the exact same experience as them with our daughter being in hospital for six months the first six months of her life but we related to the shock the blind side the being in the hospital system and not knowing what to do we related to all of that and we were able to sit to them with them and minister to them and I remember them saying to us we now understand why God has brought you into our lives we now understand like it’s as clear as day to us why we’ve made this connection and this friendship like because you guys get it you guys understand it and it was such a beautiful moment and we all the collectively the four of us went I can see your fingerprints God.
You know maybe there was other things I could have done that day but I was all right with being disrupted for that it was an appointment some of us have amazing appointments but we see it as an interruption let’s reframe it let’s be in the appointment let’s not be an interruption are you with me guys so the first thing is a good neighbor is interrupted the second thing is a good neighbor is moved and moving um like I said we obviously um the group had the first six months of my daughter’s life in hospital and we came across a lot of really great people across that time and I’m going to share you share with you a story of how pretty much one of my greatest misses when it comes to witnessing or evangelism usually a pastor or a minister kind of gets up and they tell you their stories of how 150 people got saved because I went around knocking door to door and these people all came to Jesus right.
I’m going to tell you one of my biggest regrets so hopefully you will relate to this and learn from it okay so we were in the hospital we were in the Intensive Care Unit and the Intensive Care Unit was a very somber place because you have your daughter at your like her bed in the hospital and then two meters next to you is another bed and another bed and each has a family at it and there’s no walls there’s just curtains so a lot of times the curtains are open and you’re seeing all these families go going through such grief of what they expected for their child.
I remember across that time Jess and I would have our freezer full of frozen meals that we would just take to the hospital with us and we would kind of nuke in the microwave and there was a parent’s room that you could sit in and we were sitting with this other family just eating our dinner having a chat with them getting to know them and while we were doing that there was a family that had been shopping in from outside of Brisbane and their daughter had somehow gotten into their pool at their home drowned and was revived but had so much brain damage that that night they were planning to take off life support.
So they flew her in to see what they could do but there was nothing they could do and word had gotten around the ward that basically she was not going to make a past the night and I remember we were sitting in that room and we were just chatting with this other family when suddenly the father just walked in and we just felt like the silence come over the room where we just stopped and he walked past and then he came back and he looked at us and he said cherish every moment with your children you don’t know how long you’re going to have and in that moment like my heart was just bleeding for the guy like we all understood it we all everyone on that Intensive Care Unit understood it.
So I would like to think that I would I would hope that now I would say something to him but at the time I could not get words out like I was frozen we were also stunned and surprised that he said that to us and we just there was a silence in the room and I didn’t break it nowadays I think I would actually do it differently I think I would probably actually offer to pray with him I would say would you like me to pray with you I’m happy to do that but back then over a decade ago I didn’t know what to say and that’s one of my big misses I was moved but I wasn’t moved into actually doing anything.
We as Christians sometimes we can be the biggest bleeding hearts on the planet our heart breaks for every single thing but sometimes we’re not moved into actually doing anything about it so we hear that homelessness is a terrible situation but we don’t do anything about it we hear that the divorce rate is maybe going up but we don’t do anything about it we hear all these instances happening and we think oh that’s so bad but then we don’t get moved into moving are you with me guys maybe you know with the levite he was also walking the path but he does something different to the priest is that he came to the place he came to the place saw him and then he moved over the other side of the road and kept walking he didn’t do anything he was maybe moved enough to come in the vicinity but he wasn’t moved to do anything when the lawyer initially asks what he must do.
The word do that derives from a word meaning limited action so it meant like a closed loop he wanted to know what he could do and then it’s done it’s done it’s over I’ve done my part I’m good and so when you get to the end of the verse there’s an interesting shift in his language because the lawyer responds that the neighbor was the one who had mercy on him and the word mercy comes from the word Elios which means compassion through action so he went from I only want to do what I absolutely have to do to an understanding that the neighbor in the story is the one who had compassion through action the priest and the levite did not fit the definition of that and then Jesus responds go and do likewise.
This Jew is different his do speaks of an ongoing action not a limited one it’s as if Jesus is saying you wanted to do your part and be done with it but I’m going to tell you something it’s going to keep happening you’re going to keep being moved you’re going to keep having compassion and there’s going to be action attached to it you think yourself you’re off the hook you’re not off the hook you’re trying to bring your neighborhood in but I want to expand your neighborhood there’s more for you there’s more people out there there’s more people who need Jesus are you with me what lately has moved you into moving in moving on it moving on a situation has there been a person has there been a situation where you were moved and you’re moved into actually moving and doing something about it I heard it put this way once what we actually do in life determines whether our hearts have simply been informed or have been transformed some of us we have a lot of head knowledge about compassion we have a lot of head knowledge about the word but the fruit is in the doing the fruit is in the action have we actually are we living a transformed life or are we living an informed life do we come to hear a good sermon on Sunday and just pile up our knowledge bank or do we come because it’s like the Call to Arms it’s like this week I’m going to take that and I’m going to walk in it I’m going to see the opportunities of how I can touch someone’s life I’m going to see how my world can change and become that little bit bigger am I informed or am I transformed this morning do I live in transformation power or do I live in information power I know where I want to be are you with me?
Charles Spurgeon puts it this way what the law demands of us the gospel produces in us what is the gospel producing in you or are we living in law when I say witness evangelism does it feel more like a demand or does it feel like fruit you know we we read that the Genesis 49:22 where it speaks of the vine going over that it’s fruitful it’s thriving it can’t help but go over we can’t help but go over when we’re fruitful that’s just one of the fruits of it so let’s be people who reach out are you with me in Romans 10:10 it says how then can they call on the one they have not believed in and how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard and how can they hear without someone preaching to them and how can anyone preach unless they are sent as it is written how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.
You know I usually at this point I would get you to turn to the neighbor next to you and say you have beautiful feet but I feel like some of you are going to make it creepy so we’re not going to do that okay of the people who bring the good news who are walking in action who have compassion who know the gospel is the answer who know Jesus is the answer and walk in it amen the first thing is a good neighbor is interrupted the second thing is a good neighbor is moved and moving the final thing is a good neighbor gives what they have Samaritan came upon the site and it needed urgent care and what did he have he had money he had bandages he had oil he had wine he had a donkey for him to ride on he had a sense of direction to find him an inn that could take care of him he had all these things at his disposal.
For some of us in this room here as Christians we can feel like ministering and witnessing and reaching out is someone else’s role someone who is really really good at it right you know we have Mike and I Hughes who run Gideons and they’re out there witnessing and sharing Jesus with people and we look at them and say they’re good at it leave it up to them you know they’re doing my part for me with the amount that they’re doing there may be other people in the room who you are fantastic when you have that opportunity come along your path you jump on it you leap on it with both arms you love it but then there’s those of us in the room who let’s be honest if someone came in that situation where we needed to speak Jesus to them.
We don’t know what to say we’re worried we’re really going to stuff it up we’re worried we might offend them somehow we’re not those type of people maybe you’re not even an extrovert you’re an introvert so me talking about this you go oh no no not for me but I want to encourage you this morning give what you have it’s good enough it’s good enough you know in our connect groups right now we are doing a series called sharing Jesus confidently and I encourage you to join one of our connect groups it’ll give you some tools and they are tools on what you can do a structure around what you can do to share your faith but at the end of the day the thing that brings it to life is you you’re unique you’ve been through different life scenarios you have your own little quirks you have your own little things to you where God will look in this congregation right now and say I want you I could get anyone else in this room to go minister and help people but I want you I need you because you bring something to the table that no one else does and we look at our bag and maybe go oh I’ve only got oil and wine and some bandages and some money like how’s that going to help anyone.
And then we find this scenario the situation where suddenly our lived in experience what we’ve been through what we’ve broken through happens to be manner for someone some people need to hear Jesus they need to hear the word of God and sometimes it comes from unlikely places and unlikely speakers and you know what we need to actually take ownership of the fact that maybe that’s us maybe that’s us it’s not just the generals or the faith it’s us this morning we’re reaching we’re reaching beyond and that means we can’t just cross the road we can’t just go about our day we need to be interrupted we need to be moved into moving and we need to take what we have and just offer it as a sacrifice towards God give it to him and see what he does with it amen.