Week 20: Reaching the Lost Part 2

Hello everyone!

It’s amazing to me that we’ve been meeting together for 20 weeks already. This year we have talked about the different relationships in our lives and how we should act in those relationships. We are now on our second week talking about our relationship with the lost, specifically how we can be better neighbors. Please read below to see more.

Reaching the Lost: Ascent of Blood

  • “If today’s Church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early Church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the Church has turned into outright disgust.”  MLK 1962
  • In other words, if we don’t learn how to be better neighbors the result will be that we are dismissed as an irrelevant social club. MKL said that in 1962 and look where we are today. That’s how the church is viewed today.
  • A recent survey asked: what do you think of the church and Christians? Responses were: “Christians are known for what they stand against,” says Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group. “We are famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for.”
  • “To outsiders, Christianity is more a brand than a faith,” says Gabe Lyons, who commissioned the study for the Fermi Project, a collective of church leaders driving forward a new way of being Christian in today’s culture. “It is a bad brand in the minds of tens of millions of people. It has come to represent hypocrisy, judgmentalism, anti-intellectualism, and bigotry. It’s easy to see why the next generation wants nothing to do with it.”
  • From the outsider’s perspective, Christians are viewed as an irrelevant social club.
  • We aren’t seen as neighbors. That is sad. If we are to reach the lost then we have to begin to change how we are viewed.
  • The way we talk can portray unneighborliness.
  • It can be shocking how many people really want to know Christ. Sometimes the problem is that we as Christians get in the way because we are not an accurate portrayal of Christ.
  • We may not pray enough or get in the word enough, but we can be kind.
  • The Lawyer should have asked “How can I be a better neighbor?”
  • Let’s look at Luke 10:30 to see what God says about being neighbors.
  • Before we get into the discussion more let’s look at where God chooses to place this story. He gets very specific. He could have chosen another location or been more vague but he chose this road and wanted to make sure that everyone that was present understood where the story was going to take place.
  • Christ starts out placing his characters on a road that was known all to well to Israelites. He chose the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. This road was 17 miles long and had an elevation gain of over 3500 feet. It was over treacherous terrain that, by itself, made it a difficult journey. Yet that is not the only reason why he chose this setting.
  • This road was known as the ascent of blood. Even today it is called the bloody pass. It’s called this because of its terrain, but it is also called this because of the amount of murders and muggings that took place on it. Jericho was, in a sense, a suburb for Jerusalem and many, each day, would make this dangerous trek for work. Also, many pilgrims took this road to go and worship at the recently rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Thieves would target this road because of the opportunities it presented.
  • Being a neighbor isn’t just based on location. Being a neighbor is everywhere. It is in coffee shops, malls, schools, homes, and churches.
  • Being a neighbor is a state-of-mind not an occupation.
  • Being a neighbor is sharing the road with others who are going where you are going.
  • How often do we see Jesus meet people along the way.
  • In John 4 we read of the time he met a woman at the well. Then later in John 4 he heals a man’s son on the way to Cana. In John 5 He meets a lame man by a pool on his way into Jerusalem. In Luke on his way to Jericho he ministered to a man named Zaccheus and later he ministered to two men on the road to Emmaus.
  • Jesus exemplified being a neighbor.
  • It is not about the destinations in life. Being a neighbor is about loving others who are on the journey.
  • It is interesting here that the word neighbor actually has 2 different meanings. The first means someone who resides near you. The other is someone who is your countryman or friend. God chose to use that one when He said to love your neighbor.
  • Being a neighbor also means changing how we view others. They are, by definition, our countrymen.
  • We don’t use that word a bunch today but in years past that meant something. It usually takes hold when tough times come. Think of 9/11: what happened to our countrymen? They came together didn’t they. Republicans, Democrats, Old, young, it didn’t matter. We were attacked. Not New York, but we. We empathized with those that have lost loved ones in New York, many of us shed tears when we saw the sacrifice of the firemen, and even more signed up to join in the war-effort.
  • Why, because they were our countrymen. What happened to them happened to us.
  • If you want to be a good neighbor, you have to have empathy. What happens to others should impact you.
  • It is hard to serve a stranger. It is hard to serve someone you don’t like. However, serving someone you view as your countrymen is easier.
  • It is easier still when you realize that Sin has dealt all of us a devastating blow. We have been impacted by it. It is not us and them—it’s we.
  • Jesus died for us: his countrymen, his children, the object of his affection.
  • He wants us to see our neighbors the same way.
  • Look at Luke 10:30 again. It says “He fell among robbers.”
  • The road is treacherous. This life, because of sin, tries to do the same thing to each of us. It tries to take what we have. It inflicts pain and then leaves us for dead.
  • John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. “
  • This is what’s happening on these roads.
  • This is all the more reason to be vigilant in our pursuit for Christ so that the thief does not have power in our lives.
  • In Luke 10:30 we see that this man was alone. He does not have neighbors.
  • As soon as God made man He said in Genesis 2:18 that is was not good for them to be alone. He didn’t design us to walk on this road by ourselves. We were designed to be a neighbor but also to have neighbors.
  • This is why Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings are so important. They provide us with an opportunity to fellowship and have community with others so that we don’t have to walk this journey alone.
  • Sadly this man set out on the journey alone. We can’t go it alone. Just like the man, we will fall amongst the robbers.

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