Loving your Neighbor

2019-07-13 – Year C – Proper 10 – The Rev. Christopher Klukas

Deuteronomy 30:9-14; Psalm 25:1-15; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37

  • Luke 10:29 – “Seeking to justify himself…” – this man was looking to do the minimum. “Exactly how much do I have to do?” This is the wrong question.
    • The focus here is on the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law. The man speaking to Jesus was a lawyer, and this is a pitfall lawyers often fall into.
  • Sometimes we, like this lawyer, limit love to only our extended family, or to our local church congregation, or to Christians more generally, or to fellow Americans.
  • Jesus challenges us to loosen our limits on neighborly love.

What Keeps us From Loving our Neighbor?

  • v. 31-32. – A Priest and a Levite both pass by on the other side of the road. Why didn’t they do something to help? Luke doesn’t tell us.
    • Temple rules – Some have speculated that they didn’t want to become ritually unclean because of their roles in the temple.
    • “It might cost me something – I have limited resources and I can’t help everyone.”
    • “I don’t know what to do, I’m not qualified to help”
    • “It might be risky – robbers might get me too!”
    • “I just don’t want to get involved” – too messy either physically (blood and dirt) or socially (I may find myself more involved and obliged than I want to be).
    • “I’m, too busy – I have places to go and it would take too much time to help.”
  • Some of these concerns might be valid some of the time, but if you are always passing by on the other side of the road, like the priest, maybe you have a heart problem.
  • Philippians 2:3–4 – “Count others as more significant than yourself”
    • We are all naturally selfish, and we have to make intentional choices to follow Jesus’ example.

Application

  • So how do we live this out? The love of neighbor is an overarching principle that touches on every aspect of our everyday lives.
  • Public policy on the great social issues of our day.
    • Abortion – two neighbors to love, the baby and the mother
    • Immigration and refugee crisis
      • This one requires special consideration in light of this parable because Jesus was specifically emphasizing the Samaritan, the outsider, the hated one, as the one who showed compassion.
    • Healthcare and poverty
  • More personally
    • People who are homeless or who have financial needs
      • Walking on the streets of Baltimore with a group of friends, a homeless person stopped us and asked for help. A friend of mine told the group to go on ahead and he took the man into a sandwich shop and bought him some food. James 2:15-16
    • People whose cars have broken down on the side of the road
    • People who need help with moving, loading and unloading
      • When I worked at Trinity School for Ministry, we had an email list called “campus news” which people could use to communicate with the whole campus community. Often the request would be for moving large pieces of furniture or loading/unloading a moving truck. We often benefitted from help offered through our requests. Was I as willing to give as I was to receive? Acts 20:33–35 – Paul speaking to the Ephesian Elders.
    • People who need any kind of help, even if they aren’t asking, is the Holy Spirit prompting you to offer?

What Can I Do?

  • Instead of asking “what can’t I do” ask “What can I do?”
    • Discretionary fund boundaries
  • We all have limits, boundaries, and responsibilities.
    • You only have so much money in your monthly budget, and you have financial obligations that you must meet.
    • You only have 24 hours in a day and you have other commitments.
    • You have relationships in your life that you need to tend to like your marriage, and your children, and your parents, and your close friends.
  • Deuteronomy 30:11 – “This commandment is not too hard for you…” – he does not say that it is intended to be easy for you either. We should love our neighbors in a way that costs us something, that is a stretch for us, and yet in a way that doesn’t burn us out.
  • Darley and Batson, 1978 experiment at Princeton Seminary with 40 seminarians. Showed that people are much more likely to help when they are not pressed for time.
  • Jesus is not asking you to be a doormat. It is good to know your boundaries and maintain them. But consider creating some margin for responding to outsiders.
    • Set aside money in your budget or your savings for helping people.
    • Don’t schedule your time so tightly that you don’t have any time for others.
    • Create care packages that you can give to people who are homeless.

Conclusion

  • It can seem overwhelming to love everybody equally. The needs of this world sometimes seem insurmountable. 
  • Baroness Caroline Cox – “I cannot do everything, but I must not do nothing.”

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