Friday, February 10, 2012

Go and Do Likewise

Yesterday I got to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Chad and I were invited to share about what God is doing at Truth Baptist Church with the Village Baptist WMU group. Since we landed here in Oklahoma City I’ve wanted to get over there to thank them for helping our family during a critical time in our lives.

In 1995, When my mom and dad found out it would be necessary for them to move to Oklahoma City and be closer to the transplant center at Baptist hospital, a huge draw back was not having a place to stay in the city. Most people from out of town bring a motor home or stay in local motels. About one week at the Days Inn was all Mom and Dad could afford.

Mom, who has always been resourceful, decided to call and see if any churches in town still had houses open for missionaries to stay while on furlough. Without knowing any more about us than that we were a pastor’s family and had a need, Village Baptist allowed us to use their mission home indefinitely.

When Chad and I arrived at Village yesterday morning we were greeted by a retired missionary named Helen. As the rest of the group gathered and introduced themselves, I realized that almost everyone in this group had served on the mission field in some way. I felt at home sharing our stories. They, more than anyone else, understand the sacrifice and importance of planting a church in an apartment community with over 15,000 residents who are largely un-churched.

The problem we all have, and I believe it is our human nature, is that we want a clearly defined group who we are obligated to love and serve. In Luke chapter 10:25 a Pharisee came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded in verse 26 by asking this expert of the law, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” 27 “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 “You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”

29 “But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

What the Pharisee wanted was to make sure that he was following the letter of the law. It even says he was asking for clarification in order to “justify himself”.

Jesus answered by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers who beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down that road but when he saw him he passed by on the other side. In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan on his journey came to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and told the inn keeper , ‘take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for any extra you spend.” Luke 10:30-35

Yesterday, as I shared the story of how their church had helped my family not a single person in the room could remember us staying in their home. They weren’t sure whom the members of their congregation were who brought the huge holiday baskets and made sure the house was furnished with clean towels and linens. At the time, we didn’t necessarily fit into any of their programs and had nothing to offer in return; still they had compassion. However, this gift, which was insignificant to the life of their church, had a huge impact on me and on my family.

It was in this home that as a family we prayed and sought God for direction for our future. It was the place where God called us as a family to go back to Amarillo and start Citychurch.

I get asked a lot of times, why Chad and I chose apartment ministry. The truth is that our heart is not just for apartments. This just happens to be one of the greatest concentrations of hurting and lost people in our city. The reason why I can be at peace living here is because I’ve been poor, I’ve had to write papers in the dark because the electricity is shut off. We’ve stood in line at the food pantry to get groceries for our family. I’ve had to walk home from a lousy job because my car ran out of gas and watched someone I loved dearly be physically destroyed by a horrible disease. I understand first hand that those in need of rescue are seldom in flattering positions.

Looking back I can also remember all my “neighbors”; those who rescued us by showing mercy and compassion in our time of need. In verse 10:36-37 after telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked the Pharisee, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

“The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ “

When I consider those who have blessed our family in times of need and whose friendship helped heal our hearts, when I think of the sacrifice of Jesus, it moves me to do for others what I can and minister to others His name. We must learn to obey the principle of this parable, which is to be less concerned with defining who our neighbors are and more concerned with whether or not the world around us considers us theirs.

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