There are hurting people out in the world. Physical needs, emotional hurts, and loneliness are just some of the ills that infect our sinful world. In this busy world, we often don’t see life’s litter on the side of the road. Neighbors artfully disguise their problems and hungrily look for the world to ease their symptoms rather than treat the disease.
In the biblical call for Christians to be salt and light, a sacrifice must be made to stop and help those in need. But is that all? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are provided a stunning example to display the love of Christ. And I believe it goes well beyond providing for physical needs.
Christians move from good to great when they boldly step out in faith to proclaim the reason for their service. It is because of what Christ has already done for us.
“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 replied. “How do you read it?” 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 have 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 same road, and 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 a 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 them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will 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.” (Luke 10:25-37)
When Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, the Jewish people were stunned. The revered men didn’t stop but completely ignored a man in need. And it was a loathsome Samaritan who demonstrated what it meant to love a neighbor. He went way beyond the expectations of what it means to love.
The message was intended to shatter misconceptions.
Jesus did not come to provide an example for a person to follow the greatest commandment – He came to fulfill the greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
The picture of the Good Samaritan is Jesus Himself. He loves outrageously. He loves perfectly.
Faith in Christ is the way to eternal life. And yes, faith in God expresses itself by demonstrating love for our neighbor. But I believe that instead of being a good Christian by following Christ’s example – we become great when we point to Christ substituting Himself on the cross.
That’s the point. That’s the message. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only and only Son – not help ease our symptoms living in a sinful world, but heal us of our disease called sin.
In the popular book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, he provides reasons why certain companies become great. They took a leap of faith by narrowly focusing their resources on what made them stand out.
It is good to serve the massive variety of people’s needs and bring comfort on this earth, but it’s not enough.
It’s far more important to serve a person’s eternal needs and bring security in heaven. That’s displaying true love to your neighbor.
It is good for a Christian to stop, listen, and provide emotional comfort and physical needs.
It is great when a Christian gives a reason why they are helping.
By displaying Christ’s love in your actions, you have provided yourself with a platform. Your gospel message is not forced nor unloving, but taking advantage of an opportunity that comes as a result of offering sincere love and concern.
Out of gratefulness for what Christ has done we proclaim His name. Out of gratefulness for what you have done, a lost soul may listen.
Christians move from good to great when they step out of their comfort zones, build bridges with people, and boldly cross over to tell them the good news of what Christ has done.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation.” (Isaiah 52:7)
Evangelists long for listening ears. And they are willing to get their feet dirty to proclaim peace and salvation.
It’s one thing to be a light in Christ – it’s quite another to share the light of Christ. That what moves a good Christian to a great Christian.
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