Go and Do Likewise

Luke 10: 25-37


Introd.  The church that I was trained to lead no longer exists.  I gave you several examples in the latest newsletter.  Not just in religious circles but this is also true in nearly every other area of life in America.

As Christians we are in a life and death struggle to perpetuate the faith that we strongly believe in. While the church in Africa, South American and Asia is growing rapidly the overall church in North America is stagnant and its influence is declining. Why?  The message is still the same.  God is the same.  The gospel is the same.  God’s provisions are the same but the circumstances surrounding our presentation of the gospel are vastly different. We now live in a multi cultural and multi racial fast paced global world and we must understand our world if we are to bring the good news to those who are hurting. If we are going to succeed, we must do what both Jesus and apostle Paul did:  engage our culture but not be overcome by it.  In the world not of the world

There have been two trains of thought in Christian circles for hundreds of years.   One train emphasizes the Word – what we believe – it was captured in various creeds over the years to try to put into words the skeleton of foundation Christian beliefs.  Although there are many different dimensions to the body – the skeleton for most churches is similar.  The word church emphasizes doctrinal positions.  All of our effort – outreach – programs center around that theme.  They are defined by what they believe.

Deed church – emphasize the social gospel – ministering to the poor, disadvantaged, the hurting people of our society.  They are defined not so much by what they believe but by what they do.   Not exclusively but most of these type of churches tend to be clustered in old line denominations with more liberal interpretations of the Bible.

Each group is suspicious of the other.  Word churches complain that the deed churches don’t evangelize and deed churches complain that the word churches do nothing to help their communities. 

Trip to Ca last year – pastors conference –Miles McPherson   - theme of that conference struck me hard  - do something – Miles challenged his church to give 500,000 hours in the coming year to doing something for God.  Half those hours were internal – half were external.  Do something is not a 40 day campaign – not a short term fix for a long term problem – it is a mindset – changing the ethos of the congregation. In some ways it is redefining what we are about as a congregation. 

WE want to be both a word and deed church.  Proclaiming the truth of the gospel in Christ and then living out our lives by reaching out to those who are hurting. 

Personal piety and worship are essential to the Christian life but they must lead to acts of compassion and mercy among the hurting.

Jesus used words and deeds to declare the kingdom of God.

Jesus preached the gospel; both in the synagogues and in the open air. But he also healed the sick, befriended tax collectors, fed hungry people and showed compassion to the downtrodden.  He used words and deeds to proclaim the kingdom.  The gospels contain both the sermon on the mount and the feeding of the 5000.  Both a word of truth and an act of compassion.

The old story of the Good Samaritan – one of the most popular parables in the Bible illustrates this concept.  There are several themes in this parable but today I want to talk about compassion: Are you a person of compassion?   The dictionary defines compassion as “a seeing another’s distress with a desire to alleviate it.” 

Not just feeling sorry for someone – sympathy – something deeper.

Compassion is seeing something that is wrong or someone who is hurting and then doing something about it.

God is the author of compassion.  Lam. 3: 22-23  “His compassions never fail, they are new every morning.  Great is thy faithfulness”   Compassion is a godly attribute that God pours out on us so that we can in turn show compassion to others.

The church has always set the pace when it comes to compassion.  When you trace back the origin of many ministries you will find:

          Church that began the orphanages

          Church that provided medical facilities

          Church that started homeless shelters

Compassion is certainly not limited to the work of the church but the fact remains the primary motivator of compassion ministries down through the years has been the church.

The reason is simple.  Christianity helps us look outside of ourselves to the needs of others. So what does this story teach us?

I.  Some people have no compassion

We are introduced to three people who interacted with the stranger – the first beat him and robbed him – no regard for his worth – no respect for his humanity.

His thinking was:  what’s yours is mine and I’m going to take it.  This Thinking is the foundation of crime.

Very few if any of you in this room have that attitude so I’m not going to spend much time there.

II.   Religious people can also lack compassion

After the man was robbed and beaten, two religious people come by; a priest and a levite – saw him – passed by on the other side and did nothing.

Their philosophy was “what’s mine is mine and I’m going to keep it.” 

Religion itself does not make you compassionate.  Compassion must be cultivated.  There are times even among Christians that we are so concerned about our own growth, our own agenda, our own preferences that we forget about others. 

We see Christianity through the eyes of “what can it do for me Rather than an extension of the love of Christ to our community.

Healthy Christianity just like healthy physical bodies depends on intake:  worship, reading the word, fellowship with other believers all of which strengthens our faith. . . those are things we do for us – ourselves. 

Healthy outflow:  using the knowledge that we have to help us reach out to people.  The Christian life needs to be a balance of both.  Not all intake   not all outflow 

Some are bloated Christians  some are anorexic

III.  Compassionate people do something

In this story the Samaritan didn’t just pass by, he stopped and took action.  The Samaritan was on a journey.  He had someplace to go – something to do.  He could have stopped, had a quick prayer and went on his way.  He had to alter his schedule; take time to bandage his wounds with oil and wine.  It says the next day . . . it wasn’t a five minute stop – it took all day. 

He had a different philosophy than the others: His philosophy was:  what’s mine is yours and I’m going to share it.

We have some individuals at Bayside that have not only talked about compassion – they have showed it with their lifestyles.

          Small group  went to grace house

          Ladies  make quilts for people they don’t know

          Individuals who spend weekends in jails

          Youth who envisoned impact our world

          Music program went to the city for a free concert

          Person make wooden toys and deliver them to hospitals for kids with cancer

          Group of ladies who cleaned the houses of some of our widows

          Going to share those stories in the coming weeks: something to celebrate  not a recruiting tool – not going ask for money to help the outreach.  Celebrate what God is doing.

When our small groups reconvene this fall we are going to ask every group to develop a project that is unique to their group.  Not all people will minister in the same way.  No two projects will be identical. 

If we just continue with our holy huddle, it won’t be long until we will start fussing and feuding over preferences but when we are outward focused, we don’t have time for such nonsense.  As John Belushi said: We are on a mission from God. 

Compassion is costly and inconvenient.  Your lives are already packed full – you don’t have any more time.  So if you are going to do a compassionate ministry, you will have to give up something – it will cost you time, energy, and in some cases money. We live in a fast paced world – options galore. All you’re activities can’t be about you.

If we are going to be compassionate; it means we must stop and set aside our agenda to write a note; make a call; prepare a meal, volunteer for habitat for humanity,  rock a baby, encourage a police officer   should begin early  - how much time do your kids spend in little league activities and how much do they spend helping out

Let me give you a word of caution.  It is good to help people financially.  It teaches us sacrifice, wise use of our income and accountability for what we have.  But money is the easiest thing you can give.  It is easier to write a check than to get involved. We’ve asked our missions committee to read a book entitled:  When Helping Hurts on how to effective do compassion ministries.  Sometimes unknowingly instead of helping the problem we perpetuate it by fostering dependence.

We do a work camp every couple of years.  Every time the question is always asked:  why not just send the money to the Honduran people instead of going.  But going on a work camp is different than giving money.  You become a partner not just a contributor.  You never see the people in quite the same way again.  Giving changes your pocketbook but going changes your life.

For compassionate ministries to be effective, we have to become a partner.

At the end of the story Jesus talked to the assembled crowd and relating this story of compassion, he says to them:  Go and do likewise. No matter what you do, do all in the name of Jesus.

IV.  The greatest act of compassion is Jesus

God recognized there was a problem – mankind was hurting.  We had an inclination to sin against the will of God.  We were selfish, prideful, and arrogant.  We felt guilty about our sins but the sacrificial system did not relieve us of our pain. 

God didn’t just sit on his throne and feel sorry for us.  Didn’t say  too bad. . . he did something.  He entered in to our pain.  He sent his son Jesus to rescue us.  We commemorate that occasion with a meal called communion.  It represents God’s love for us and compassion for us in that while we were still sinners – far from him – he died for us.