Am I Loving My Neighbor?

It Is Crucial To Ask Ourselves, "Am I Being A Loving Neighbor?".

Ross Sawyers and Jermaine Arphul
Aug 2, 2020    59m
Are you being a loving neighbor? In these times of racial unrest, this message unpacks the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and it reminds us that it is critical that we ask ourselves if we are loving our neighbors as Christ has commanded. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: 00:06 What a phenomenal time of worship. and just exalting God to getting our eyes set on him, who really is our hope, and our strength, and everything for us. Jermaine and I are going to teach together this morning. And as we've worked through this series on race, started one way and then things the last week or so just kind of moved with what God's doing. And so this wasn't our original intention, and I just love the way God's been working in Jermaine in these days, and just wanted to wrap up with him, and do this together.

Ross Sawyers: 00:51 Yesterday, before we jump into where we're headed, I just finally had some time yesterday to pause and just spend some good time with the Lord, and I just wrote down several things. Just what my emotions have been, and my overall thoughts from these last couple of months. And I just wanted to share those with you, and I just give you a just a glimpse of what this time looked like with the Lord yesterday. Maybe it'll be helpful, maybe it won't, I have no idea. But I just feel like this is what God would want me to share personally, you know, this morning. And I'd just started by saying, Lord, I've missed just having quiet, untired enjoyment and delight in you, just being at ease, and just being. There's so much tension, and unease, and fragmentation in our world right now. And when I look at what's behind it, Satan is deceiving, dividing, attacking, robbing of life. I hate him. And I have to be so careful. I'm just weary of having to be so careful to say things just right, knowing that one phrase or one word will set someone a flame I've grieved over the death of police officers and prayed comfort for their families. I've grieved over the death of black children gunned down in the streets in these past weeks. And for those moms and dads and brothers and sisters of those children. I've grieved over families in the news the last several months, that they have died at the hands of police officers. And then I've grieved in this pandemic, I think it's going to drive us all nuts. And then I've grieved over the death of my own brother from this pandemic. And then I've grieved with many of you who've lost family members over the last three or four months. I've grieved over the race issue that in so many ways in my mind has been hijacked by other agendas, so that even to think about race, people think we're talking about the wrong thing. I've spent time alone with the Lord, and so many mornings I've just laid there and just hoped that something would come, and somehow I could hear from God. I believe the world has lost its ever loving mind, and because of that, it's lost its way.

Ross Sawyers: 03:42 I'm tired of labels of gen X, gen Y, gen Z, I don't know what brilliant person came up with starting with those letters, now we're out. I don't know what the next generation gets to be. I'm tired of being called a baby boomer, and I did this, and you being a millennial and you did that. And whatever's in between those two, I'm exhausted by the labels that fragment. I'm exhausted by the political affiliations of Republican and Democrat, if you're this, you're that, and the accusations that come with it. I've been called white more times in the last two months than I can shake a stick at, and we've talked about black and white. I just want to love Jermaine because he's Jermaine, he's a friend, I'm tired of having to talk about we're black and we're white. And so I've just been exhausted by, and I know it's real at the same time, so I'm not denying that. I'm just telling you, it's exhausting with all the labels. Am I a white supremacist, am I white this, am I...I'm just trying to figure out the labels. And I just want to get back to what God has to say about who I am, and what we're about, and we love that way.

Ross Sawyers: 04:53 I've been strengthened in the past days by the music that people have sent me. They've sent me songs, scripture that people have sent me, daily prayers on my behalf. Sometimes we're in seasons where we just need somebody else to stand in the gap for us, and I'm grateful for many of you that have just stood in the gap personally for me. I'm saddened that we can't just simply say that black lives matter and let it be, but instead there's an organization that's adopted anti-biblical views by that same name, so it just makes it a challenge to even decide what we can say or not say about a life that matters. I'm saddened by social media conversations for many in the 121 body, quite candidly, and the way people have handled themselves and gotten mad and defriended each other. And then I'm heartened on the other side, by those who have utilized social media well and encouraged, and said things that are helpful in this dialogue.

Ross Sawyers: 05:57 I'm heartbroken, listening to stories of my friends who are black and things that they've endured by people in general, and sometimes by the police at times. I'm bummed by statistical maneuvering that whatever statistics somebody has, there's a counter to it, and at some point I just think we have to look and say, there's too many black people, too many white people and too many brown people in our prison system. There are injustices that are going on, there's too many fatherless homes of all colors, there's too many housing issues and educational issues. Forget the stats, there's problems, and can we do something about the problems instead of maneuvering each other statistically all the time. I'm weary of political posturing and agendas that no matter what happens, there's an immediate political posturing.

Ross Sawyers: 06:49 I'm tired of finger pointing. When I think about Jesus, the only time I can think of him pointing a finger, is when he got down on the ground when a woman was being trapped by the Pharisees, the religious people, and Jesus got on the ground and started writing in the ground. And he asks the question, whoever has no sin among you, let you be the one that casts the first stone. I'm saddened listening to a policeman's wife in our church tell me, that every day her husband puts on the uniform, he's called a racist. And I'm sad for the police officer that I talked to for three hours, that works so diligently and loves what he does to protect people, only to be fearful because of the backlash against police in general. I'm disappointed that some have not been able to have hard conversations at 121 in groups, and that people are not able to have real hard conversations about tough issues. It's disappointing that we're not able to do that, and that some have not been able to do so. And then it's encouraging for others that have done so well, even when they disagree.

Ross Sawyers: 07:57 I'm disturbed as I've listened in many conversations I've had the last few weeks, to some Christians who advocate the violence that's going on on our streets, and that this is somehow okay. I'm disturbed by the hateful language, and the onslaught of the F word toward our president and others. I'm baffled by the moral outrage of some, towards those who are in leadership. While I know, if I just use statistics for a minute, that 70% of men in this country are addicted to pornography, and 30% of women are as well. And that we have a culture where there's an avalanche of immorality right now, who in the world has the right to point the finger at anybody for any kind of immorality for the pace that we're on right now, and polyamory has now just been legalized in one of the first cities in our country, in the Northeast. If you don't know what that is, feel free to Google it, and then you'll know it, and you'll be appalled that that now is a legalized piece of something in one of our cities.

Ross Sawyers: 08:56 I'm saddened by an unwillingness to search our own hearts, but to quickly jump to a defensive stance and deflection of the issues around race. I've convicted by my own lack of prayer on behalf of people with whom I disagree, I'm stunned once again, by my own selfish and prideful heart. I'm disappointed when I'm fearful and unwilling to speak boldly. And I'm overwhelmed by the breakup of the home, and the reshaping of what love is supposed to be in our current cultural moment, it's such a deviation from what God's love is. I'm concerned that love for justice is going to overtake a love for God, who is the God of justice. And I'm wondering how many Christians will surrender to worldviews without even knowing they've done it, that are contrary to Jesus himself.

Ross Sawyers: 09:57 I'm frightened that we are experiencing full on the last verse of Judges, that says that every man is doing what's right in his own eyes, I'm heartened and encouraged though, by black men, like Vodi Bochum and Tony Evans who are speaking biblically, and strongly, and giving us great perspective in ways that we can be a help in the black community. I'm grateful for the conversations that I have had at 121 with black people, and brown people, and white people, and I'm just encouraged by the way they've overcome. I'm saddened on the other hand, by so many, especially in a younger generation that have had all kinds of relationships of color, and it's just innocent, enjoyable relationships. And it's like, they've lost that innocence now, and they're wondering what they're supposed to say. These were just friends to them two months ago, and now they're trying to figure out, am I saying the right thing? Have I been saying the wrong thing? And I'm saddened by that, at the same time I'm grateful for many that have been awakened to the real problem in different persons of color, and in their communities. Simply because something is not happening in my little world, does it mean it's not real in somebody else's world, so I'm grateful for the awakening of that in so many places in all of this.

Ross Sawyers: 11:29 This is how I finished up. I'm grateful because the hope, the peace, the joy, the real love, really is only in Jesus, that really is our only hope. And that's not a trite phrase, that's not a cute thing to offer up, that is our reality today. And I'm grateful that there is a homecoming, where all of this nonsense that we're living in right now will be gone, and the satisfaction that we long for will be met, and it will be met with Jesus face to face. When my sister in law died, my brother, Randy, I remember him at the hospital bed. And he said to her, I'm jealous, you're with Jesus first. And I'm jealous today that she, my mom, and then my brother Lloyd are with Jesus, and they're not in this mess right now, but they're in the pure love of Jesus. Okay? And we can glimpse and taste that now in this world.

Ross Sawyers: 12:31 So while I'm discouraged and bummed on so many fronts, I'm encouraged on others. And what I know is, is that the darker it gets, that the brighter the light of Christ will shine. And that's what we want to talk about these next few minutes in Luke chapter 10 verses 25 through 37, how do we anchor in well to Jesus who is our hope, and to walk in a way that most honors him? The anchor holds, it holds in Jesus, and we're here to advance his glory, advance his name. God is for us, he's not against us. He's our light and our salvation, there's no need to fear. He's the defensive our life, there's no need to dread. He's the one that tells us not to fear or to be anxious, and that there's nothing that's too difficult for him, not one thing. And he's the one that we can lean into so that our lives can be filled with joy and peace, even in the midst of the deepest trials. And then we look forward to tasting a little bit of the kingdom and what God has in these days.

Ross Sawyers: 13:37 We've talked about this series being Leading 'With Love', and as Christians, we lead with love. Of everything I just said, every person I just described, we lead with love for them. We love people, whether we agree or disagree. The hope in these few weeks has been, not that we can answer every question for you, not that we can tell you everything you need to do, but that we'll be anchored to God and to his word, and that will respond in the way that he leads us out of it. That we can learn how to agree and disagree with each other, and have meaningful dialogues and conversations about the toughest issues. That's the way we strengthen in our faith, is to have the real conversations, be honest about the way we see them. We lead with love, and we've been given a biblical perspective. We're not talking about a cultural perspective, we're not rolling with the cultural wave. We've talked about it, so you can see how it fits inside of scripture. But we're talking about a biblical perspective on race.

Ross Sawyers: 14:42 And one of the coolest things I think on the outset of this, that Jermaine and I are both reading a book called, Strength To Love by Martin Luther King. And we talked about having a tough mind, a tender heart, a tough mind, and a tender heart. So what we've done in these weeks, we've gathered for prayer, and then we've done four main things, main ideas, and then we'll begin our fifth one here.

Jermaine Arphul: 15:11 Yeah. And I love that on July 5th we led off anchored in scripture in Genesis 1 verses 26 and 27, talking about this main idea, this truth that life is made in the image of God. That every single person is made in the image of God, and what that means is every single person of color has dignity and has value. We should all look at each other that way, first and foremost, and for us to lead with love, that's where it starts, is understanding that every single person has been made in the image of God.

Ross Sawyers: 15:49 And with every person being valuable. And then we looked at the second week in Ephesians chapter 2, verses 11 through 22, and we know that every person has the potential to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. And that only through Christ are the real barriers, whether they be racial, or religious, or denominational, or whatever the barriers are, the barriers are torn down only in Jesus at the cross. And then that enables us to be reconciled to one another. What he's done is actually created a new and unified human race, we're actually one human race, all descended from the same human parents. We're in the line of Adam, when we come to Christ, we're called a chosen race in First Peter 2:9, regardless of tribe, tongue, or nation. One human race, new and unified in Jesus Christ.

Jermaine Arphul: 16:46 Yeah, and then understanding all that, being anchored and all that. Now we can push forward and take action. And so in the next week we talked about loving our enemies, Matthew chapter 5, verses 43 through 48, talked about loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute you, having a love for others without limits. Jesus came, crossed cultural barriers. He loved everyone, even his enemies. And as brothers and sisters in Christ who have been saved by the blood of Jesus, who trust in him, who look at him as our Lord and savior, we should all go and do the same. We should love without limits, no matter what is in front of us, who is in front of us, we should love everyone just like God does.

Ross Sawyers: 17:29 And then last week, John Sayger and I talked about listening well. And one of the ways that we love without limits, is to listen well. Included in the ways to listen well, are ways to ask good questions to have dialogue so that it's not simply I'll listen and that's it, but I'm listening until I understand, I'm valuing the person that's speaking, and then I'm asking, can we talk about this? Are there some questions I can ask so we can have a real dialogue about what we've just heard. In James 1:19-20, that was our anchoring, along with Proverbs, multiple verses from Proverbs, that the wise person is the one who listens.

Jermaine Arphul: 18:11 And then just this past Thursday night, we had a panel discussion up here with many thinkers and leaders here that are connected with 121. And we just took a biblical perspective, or we took their perspectives, we listened to their perspectives on what it's like to be black in America, and listen to their experience. It's a way to model how to just listen, and have a healthy dialogue on how to just have a conversation in regards to race. And the hope was that after that we would be stirred to go and do the same things that God has called us to do, which is love one another

Ross Sawyers: 18:50 On that panel, Jermaine was on the panel and I just want to say kudos to him. At 5 o'clock on Thursday night, we had a police officer, officer O'Neil who's here each week with us. He was supposed to be on the panel to give a police officer's perspective, and at 5 o'clock I get a text from him that he's on a SWAT call, and that over took him actually being here. It was a missed perspective on the panel, it would have been a good piece to have. And then another pastor in the area Tuesday texted me, and he had COVID, and so God rearranged this panel. And we never expected that everyone would agree with everything that was said on the panel. Part of the idea was to model, and to listen to, things that we don't agree with, and then that can stir conversation that you can have with other people. And so it was a, I didn't agree with everything I heard that night from different people. And if I was in a one on one conversation, I would have asked, Hey, is it okay if I ask you some questions about this? I'm not sure I see it the same way. But it was not a debate, it was not an argument. These weren't people that are professional people that get on stages and debate, and I didn't want them under that pressure. I just wanted them to be able to share their perspective, we listened to it, then we go to scripture and we wrestle around with it.

Ross Sawyers: 20:22 And then today we turn our attention to Luke chapter 10, and what is it we're supposed to do? So many have asked, okay, what am I supposed to do? I keep hearing well, we've actually said some things along the way, but we just want to make it really tight and clear and give some ways, anchored in scripture, of what we can actually do. And the question we want to ask, the big idea from Luke 10 is, am I a loving neighbor? We don't want to look around at everybody else on this, we want to look at ourselves and ask the question, am I personally a loving neighbor based on what the scripture says?

Jermaine Arphul: 21:03 So let's go ahead and read verse 25, it says, "And a lawyer stood up and put him, Jesus, to the test. Saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Ross Sawyers: 21:15 It's an interesting question that's asked there, the teacher's an expert in Mosaic law. And in the middle East, at that time at least, the teacher would be the one sitting and the student would be the one standing that would be a respectful position. And a student here is testing the teacher, and I would say that perhaps he's asking the wrong question. It's an inheritance. You don't do something to get an inheritance, if you receive an inheritance, it's because somebody graciously chose to leave you that inheritance.

Jermaine Arphul: 21:57 Yeah, I think it's interesting here. If we could set up the context for this particular verse a little bit more, I think it's important to see that this lawyer, he knew God's word, he knew the scriptures. He was a Pharisee, and his job was to like really enforced that, enforce these sayings from God's word. And so he'd sort of, by standing up and questioning Jesus, he challenged him. This wasn't a, hey, I want to come to church to see if I can get filled up and really ask God to search my heart and see how I can find eternal life. This was more of a challenge towards Jesus, Jesus was looked at by Pharisees at this point as an irritant, right? Every time that he talked, he would flip upside down what the Pharisees had been trying to impress on people. And so this lawyer stood up and put him to the test. So this wasn't a true heart question, this was more of a, hey, I'm about to get into a MMA, verbal MMA, match with you Jesus. And let's lock in, so we can see who can walk away with more pride. So verse 26 says, "And he said to him, "What is written in the law? How does it read to you?"

Ross Sawyers: 23:17 And this is something we see Jesus do often. And when we talk about listening and engaging people in dialogue, he asked questions. And he wasn't just going to directly answer a question, he asked questions. And I think that's a healthy way for us to have conversations with people, to listen to what they're saying and then to ask them, so that we understand, how they actually see it before we put on them the way that we see it.

Jermaine Arphul: 23:46 Yeah. So Jesus looks at this lawyer, knowing what he knows, and just says, okay, wise guy, how does it read to you? Right, he kind of turns it back on him. And it kind of puts him in a situation now, where this lawyer now has to sort of... The lawyer thought that Jesus was going to explain it in a different way, to lead him into a place where the lawyer would have the upper hand. But Jesus turns it around on him and says, how does it read to you? And he answers, the lawyer answers. He says, "You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself."

Ross Sawyers: 24:24 So it gives him that command. He says, hey, this is what you're going to do, you want to know what you need to do to inherit eternal life? Then it's love God, and it's with your total being, with all of who you are. Actually the word heart, we've talked about this often over the last few years, the heart means our mind. The way we think, it means our emotions. And it's our will, it's what we do, it also includes our motives. And he just in multiple ways saying here, with everything that you are, your total being, that you love God, and then that you also love your neighbor as yourself. And he puts
this incredibly high standard, of this is what it means to actually obey the law.

Jermaine Arphul: 25:15 Yeah. So when you look at this passage, he asked at the beginning, what shall I do? And then he quotes the scriptures and Jesus says, we'll see, in a second, it says, "Yes, you answered correctly." The heart behind the question again was off, but also the lawyer needs, we all need to understand that we don't do anything, right, to inherit eternal life. It's already been done through what Jesus did, right, and having faith and trust in him. And so the way that it plays out, our faith and trust plays out, is through love, right? Understanding, receiving the love of Christ, and then it plays out into our relationships with God, but also with others. And so Jesus says in verse 28, "And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; Do this and you'll live."

Ross Sawyers: 26:05 So he's affirming him, hey, look, you did it. You know it, you know what it is to love God. And the scripture tells you, you know the law, you know the 10 commandments, you know all the other laws, and that's actually what loving God, loving neighbor looked like. You look at the 10 commands for example, the first four are about ways they were to love God, the next six were about the way they love each other, love their neighbor. And so he knows all this, the lawyer said it, and now Jesus affirmed it.

Jermaine Arphul: 26:33 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Ross Sawyers: 26:45 Inside, that lawyer knew he couldn't pull this off. He knew he wasn't loving God with all of his being, and loving his neighbor well, so he tried to justify himself. The word justify, meaning it a status of being accepted by God. And he was trying to just make sure that he was okay before God, and in his mind the way they would have understood that the Jews in that day, they would have understood the neighbor to be fellow Jews. And for someone like him, especially someone that kept the law, and as long as he did that then he would be good. So what he's doing is asking a question, and he's looking for approval. He's trying to get Jesus's approval here.

Jermaine Arphul: 27:36 Yeah. He looking for a way out. Right? He sees that there's so many people around him, and if he says that, hey, yeah, I'm doing these things already. People in the audience are going to say, I don't know about that. I don't know if he's really been doing that. Right? And so he goes a different route, and tries to throw Jesus off by asking, and who is my neighbor? Thinking that he's going to say, well, it's the Jewish person, that is your neighbor. Where he could say, okay, well, I love only Jewish people as myself, yes, absolutely. And so he was looking to be justified in that particular moment there. And then we go on, and we go on to verse 30 here. I believe Ross is going to read it.

Ross Sawyers: 28:17 Before we head there though, let's think about practically, how do we justify ourselves on this race conversation? What are ways that we think okay, this isn't a problem for me? I'm not a racist, and if I'm not a racist, then it must not be a problem. And we justify ourselves, we start to think, because it's not in our little world, as I mentioned earlier, then maybe it's not really an issue. We don't believe it, that it's really happening. And we justify what we're doing, we justify our inaction because we don't think it's a real issue. And then we might say this, this might be in some of our hearts, you know what, I don't see what the problem is. Why can't everybody just get out and work hard like I did? Well, why can't the black person go just work hard, and pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Why can they just not do that? That's what I did, why can't they do that? We start justifying things, we start making ourselves feel better about what's going on, rather than dealing head on and getting inside the shoes of people and understanding there really are real things going on that are racial issues. And so in some ways we're no different, whatever it is that God might be saying to us for each of us, in some ways we're no different than this guy. And we're trying to figure out wait, well, I have a couple of black friends and I don't say anything poorly, and so I must be fine. Jesus, will you just affirm that for me and make sure I'm okay. We just try to justify ourselves.

Ross Sawyers: 29:54 And here's the question he asks, "Who's my neighbor?" And then Jesus answers it this way. In verses 30 and 31 he talks about, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him and went away, leaving him half dead." And this is the scene that's set up for us. It's from Jerusalem to Jericho, and it's about an 18 to 20 mile run between Jerusalem and Jericho. And it's pretty treacherous terrain, some of its desert, and so it's difficult kinds of places to walk. So it's a dangerous place, and robbers were often there to take advantage of people. So this guy has been left half dead. So he probably half naked, half dead, out in a desert area, and he's in a dire scenario. Verse 31, “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side." So the priest, one possible scenario in a book I read called Jesus, Through Middle Eastern Eyes, we read through Western eyes. And it's good when we can get inside the middle Eastern perspective, because that gives us really a better context of what's going on. And it said the priests, a number of them lived in Jericho and they would go to Jerusalem for two weeks at a time to serve, and so it would not be unusual at all that priests were along this pathway. And so the priest then is walking by, sees a wounded man. If he was near the temple, then he had done all these purifying ceremonies, and it's possible that he looked at this man, and if you touch a dead man, which he was unconscious when found lying there, so he didn't know, then he would be unclean for seven days. And he didn't want to risk being unclean. Think about quarantining, if you will, we can understand that idea. And he didn't want to be quarantined for the next seven days because he helped this person. Martin Luther King said this in writing about this passage, he said, and this would have been in the 1960s, "If a white man is concerned only about his race, he will casually pass by the Negro who's been robbed of his personhood, stripped of his sense of dignity, and life dying on some wayside road." If we simply see another person of color, like this priest saw this man, and walk on the other side, then we're robbing that person of the dignity and sacredness of which we've spoken.

Jermaine Arphul: 32:54 Verse 32, “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side." When we look at this, a Levite is also a religious person. He's more of a religious assistant. If you will, maybe like a worship pastor, right? You've got the lead pastor, and then maybe like the worship pastor. And many theologians will infer this, that this Levite actually stopped to look, and looked at this person who was half dead. More so than the priest earlier that, you know, had to keep a distance. The Levite actually looked in, and instead of doing something about it, he passed by. When I think of this verse, I actually think of a time that just happened a week ago. I'm in a hurry to get to a meeting, and I hate being late. I don't know about you, but I hate being late. And I had to pick up something on the way to the meeting from the store, right down the street. And I'm in line at the fast checkout line., the do it yourself checkout line. Which for some reason, whenever you're in a hurry, it always seems like things get in the way. I don't know if anybody's else experienced that before, but the line was really long, and an elderly woman entered into my frame and entered into the picture. And I thought she was sort of cutting in line because she just sort of stepped right in front of me. And then I realized she's an elderly lady, and I said, you know what? I need to be nice and excuse her and let her go through. And she mumbled something towards me, and I had to take my mask off because I don't know, it's just hard to hear what the mask on. And so I said, I'm sorry, what'd you say? And she just said, I'm looking, I can't go through this line. I need to go through like a personal attendant at one of the other cash registers. Could you help me? And I said, absolutely, I can help you. And as she started walking, as I started looking for help, I could just see her huddled over on her cart like this, she was just so exhausted and so tired from walking around looking for help. And finally it took someone like me to step up and say, hey, let me figure out a way to help you. And that's, the reason why I say that, is because this particular verse came to mind in that moment. I was in a hurry, I needed to get somewhere. And when I started thinking about, you know, hey, what's it going to cost me if I help her? I started thinking about this verse, and started going, wait, what if I don't help her? What's that going to cost her? And so helping her, I helped her, and she got taken care of it and it was great.

Jermaine Arphul: 35:44 And I think what we need to think about is this, many black Americans in this country, they're thinking that we're going to look at this issue in race that's been going on over the last couple of months. It's been going on for a long time, but in this heightened season that we're in, they're thinking that America is just going to look in, we're going to talk about it for a little bit, and then we're going to move on. That's the concern. And so for us, I just challenge us as a church and as human beings to really have compassion, seek to understand, and then if God prompts you to do something, to act on it.

Ross Sawyers: 36:25 There is an interesting twist that happens here in the way stories were told, the expectation in the story would be that here's the Jewish priest, here's the Levite, and the expectation would be that a Jewish layman was the third person in the story. That's how one of these stories would fall, and that's not what happens. Jesus, as he often did, puts a twist and he says, “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion." For the Jewish people to have listened to this story from Jesus, they probably would have been actually okay, you know, if it would have been a Jewish layman, but Samaritans were hated by the Jews. In some ways, this is a story about race. There's so many ways and perspectives on the story, but part of it is a racial perspective because it's the Samaritan who's now going to actually offer the help.

Ross Sawyers: 37:23 Why were the Samaritans and Jews at odds with each other? Why did they hate each other? In 722 BC Assyria conquered the Northern part of Israel. When they did, they deported several of the Jewish people out, some stayed behind. Those who stayed behind then inter-married with the Assyrians, so the Syrians and the Jews who stayed behind, they became a mixed race. and they are described as the Samaritans. To the Jews that cost a racial purity to them, and therefore they hated the Samaritans because they were no longer racially pure, and so there was a segregation and a hatred between the Samaritans and the Jews. So Jesus introduces into this story, someone that the Jews actually hate. And he said, he's the one that actually saw him and felt compassion. The word compassion, it's an active compassion. It's I feel it in my gut, I feel the pain of what's happening, and I'm actively going to do something about it. It's not, I just sit back, and I pity you, and I feel about it, and I hate that for you, but I'm not going to do anything about it. Compassion is, I feel it, and I step into it with you. And that's what this Samaritan did, "He came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him." He used everything that he had. He used his time, I'm sure he needed to be somewhere, but he used his time. He knew it would take some time if he stopped and helped this man. He used his resources, he used the wine to help clean the wound, and the oil to help cleanse it even further. And then he probably just had the thing he was riding, and he put this man who was wounded on his own animal, and then he probably walked the rest of the way. So he used his time and his resources. And then he risked his life, because here is a Samaritan man, hated by Jews, coming into a Jewish city with a Jewish man who's wounded. He really risked his life to bring this person into the city. "And he took care of him. Now the next day took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, (so now he's paying) ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ He used everything he had to pursue and get into this man to help him, the hated Samaritan with the Jew.

Ross Sawyers: 40:15 Can you imagine in the 1950s, in a Southern state, a black man driving in a half dead white man to the local hospital? Someone that he found that had been beaten outside of town and he brings him into town, take care of him. Is he going to be believed? That's the same scenario that we find the Samaritan in, and yet he was willing to risk it. Martin Luther King said this about this story. He said, "The priest and the Levite, they said, if I stopped to help this man, what will happen to me? The Samaritan said, if I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?" If we don't get involved in injustice issues around race, the kinds of things, justice, that God's interested in, then what will happen to those who are suffering the injustices? That's the question the Samaritan asked, what will happen if I don't get involved in people's lives?

Jermaine Arphul: 41:34 Verse 36 says, "Which of these three." Jesus is talking here, "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers hands?" Jesus is so good, he just totally flips it around, right? At the very beginning of this conversation, of this debate or discussion here, the question was, what do I do to get eternal life and who is my neighbor? The focus was on the neighbor, on the person. And Jesus turns it around and really is saying, what kind of neighbor are you? By asking that question, he's basically saying, what kind of neighbor are you? Am I a loving neighbor, is the question. And in verse 37, the lawyer says, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” He flips it around and basically says, don't worry about who the person is you're going to love, worry about being a good neighbor yourself. Worry about being a good neighbor yourself. He flips it around so that we could introspectively look into our hearts and show the kind of love that Jesus shows. But here's the deal, it says here, "The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” The only way that we can do that, is if we have that same love of Jesus flowing through our hearts. You see, when we look at this passage, right at the very center of this passage is the gospel.

Jermaine Arphul: 43:13 At the very center of this passage is the gospel. The Samaritan is Jesus, is like Jesus, in this passage. Jesus is the one who enters into our life, he never sat back from afar, he came into our life. He entered into our world. He came to us out of compassion, a deep love for us. And not only that, he sees us in our woundedness, in our helplessness, like it says in Romans chapter 5 verse 6. He sees us there, and then he picks us up. He sees us in our shame, and our guilt, and in our sin, and he picks us up through his love and he puts us on his back. And he does that by the power of his word, and by the oil of his spirit, and the power of his word. And not only that, he binds us up, he binds us up, he gives us shelter. Just like here, the Samaritan took the man to an Inn to provide shelter, Jesus does that for us spiritually. We find shelter, we find friendship in Jesus. And not only that, he cares for us. So we've got a great deliver, but we also have great Providence, he cares for us.

Jermaine Arphul: 44:42 Romans 8:28 talks about how he works everything for those who love him, according to his purpose. Right? And so he cares for us, after he lifts us up to be sons and daughters with him in his place. And then we share in these promises, in these eternal promises that we have here, and then in the future. Jesus is going to come back, just like at the end of this passage. He says, I'll repay you, I'm going to come back. Jesus paid the price for us on the cross, and even though he left and ascended into heaven, he's still here with us, and we will get to share with him again in the future. You see that as gospel right there.

Ross Sawyers: 45:28 And that's the only way we'll be able to love, and pursue, and enter into people's lives where there's need and where there's injustice, and it's only in Christ and Christ alone. We want to just ask the question again, you know, "Am I loving neighbor?" And how can I, or we, be loving neighbors to people of different colors than we are? How do we actually do that? It is God asking us to widen the scope of our neighborhood. Can we expand what that neighborhood is? And as a individual follower of Jesus, what is God saying specifically to you? I started this series by saying, if anyone feels forced, manipulated, or guilted, don't do something. What we want to know is, is that, God, through his word is working specifically in our hearts to do specific things with specific people. And we want to respond in obedience to it, just like the Samaritan did. So what is God saying to you? And what is God saying to your family? What is a family, is he saying? As a life group, that's one of the ways we encourage action in our church, is doing life together with those who you're doing community in your life group. Is God saying something that you're to get in on together as a group, as a small group, that you can go shoulder to shoulder and serve. As he saying something to you? You know, what is he saying to us as a church body? What is it he wants us to get involved in?

Ross Sawyers: 47:25 And we just want to make a run here, if you want to take a picture at the end, or if you want to write it down, these are just some ideas. These are things we know people are actively doing, there's some things we know we can do, and maybe this will stir that. In Hebrews 10, we're told to provoke each other to love and good deeds. And maybe these can be provoking ideas for each of us to consider what God might be saying. My hope is that God's already been saying things to you, and that you know what next things are for you, or there's been confession or whatever. But we're just going to throw things up on the screen, we don't have this preset. Jermaine and I kind of have a list we've worked through, we may throw something else out, and then they're going to type it in as we go. But the thing that I would start with is prayer, and I don't mean that tritely. I mean, are we praying for the media that we get so mad at? I mean, that's my own conviction, I'm spending more time hacked off about the media than I am praying for those that are perpetrating the narratives that are to me, crushing what's going on. Am I actually praying for people of color and what's going on with them? Am I praying for policemen and women? Am I praying for our authorities, and those who are our leaders? Jermaine said the other night at the panel, am I actually praying for those are the Black Lives Matter, the organization who are advocating things against God. Am I actually praying for them, or I spending more time being mad about them? And so the first thing I would say is, that we would generally try to build into our lives on purpose prayer for different people

Jermaine Arphul: 49:11 Yeah. On purpose, prayer for different people. So every third Thursday of each month, we'd like to do a prayer and fasting. Just pick a portion of the day on Thursday, the third Thursday of each month, and let's see if we can pray and fast as a way to seek God in that, and to pray for change. And if that, maybe it's fasting from food, or if you can't fast from food, maybe it's just giving up something. We see over and over in the scripture, when we do that, when we seek God's favor in that...Nehemiah is a great example of that, when he was so broken by what was happening over in Jerusalem, and how things had just been just devastating. We see over and over, him praying and fasting, seeking God in that. And as we are so broken by all the things that have been happening of late, let's take some time the third Thursday of each month and pray and fast.

Ross Sawyers: 50:13 And then the third thing is to listen well, and to really engage in conversations. And one of the best things that's happened for me the last few weeks is conversations I've had with different ages of people, different socioeconomic backgrounds of people, different ethnicities of people. Policemen, I would encourage you to ask a police officer, could I just have a conversation with you? I'd like to understand from your perspective, can you help me understand what goes on in your world? I mean, have you ever taken the time to just listen to a police officer. Have you really ever taken the time to listen to someone that is black, that has had really difficult experiences over the years? I mean, it's enlightening to hear, and it's helpful even to know how to pray for those that were talking with. So we just encourage you listen well to wide varieties of people and perspectives.

Jermaine Arphul: 51:16 Yeah. And I share the gospel with you at the end of this particular passage. Let's bring the gospel with us everywhere that we go. Can we bring the gospel with this everywhere that we go, and to every single conversation? That's where true change is going to happen, right, when we start having these dialogues? Look at it as an opportunity, as well, to share the gospel. I can't tell you, I've had so many conversations in regards to this particular topic on race. And at first it seemed a little burdensome because I felt like, you know, maybe a highlighter as this black guy. Like, okay, everyone's reaching out to me as the black guy to give them perspective. But then as I started praying and thinking through it, I realized this is an excellent opportunity to share the gospel. And in a time where, gosh, we've had to social distance and be isolated, I've been struggling and mourning that I haven't had a chance to share the gospel. And how cool is it that God has opened up a new door for me to walk through and share that opportunity? Praying Colossians 4 verses 2 through 6, and speak in a way that opens up our hearts and our minds to be receptive to the gospel.

Ross Sawyers: 52:25 We've worked ourselves in a hole here on the time, so we're going to go and go rapid fire on the list. You'll understand them, and we can talk more if you'd like. Mentoring, discipling, or developing people, whether in your business world, in your education world, children in the community. But that would be a phenomenal way to deeply invest, and bring the gospel to bear, is to mentor where there's fatherlessness, where there's challenges like that, that would be a way to deeply invest, that would be a great to do.

Jermaine Arphul: 53:00 And then let's pursue opportunities to serve, let's pursue opportunities where we can get in with people of different ethnicities, or people who look different. There's church down the street, St. John's Church, a predominantly black church. I've had a neighbor of mine reach out to me and say, hey, let's reach out to them, see how we can pray together with them. Or maybe it's just prayer walking around the neighborhoods around us. Let's all get involved somehow, someway in pursuing different opportunities to serve others.

Ross Sawyers: 53:33 Invitations to people, whether that's to 121. People ask me, you know, why are we not more diverse as a church? I guess I just have to ask the question back. Why are you not inviting people that are more diverse to sit with you at church? I mean, it's a fair question, I don't mean that rudely. I'm saying, everything we're so much more about is inviting people, and let's invite people that are different than us to be a part with us. And then also inviting people into our home, or out to dinner, and I would encourage this both ways of color. Like I know the way this is thought of is white people are people in power, and so they...I don't think like that, I'm not denying that's there and that's real. I'm just saying I long for the day when a black person invites me to dinner at their house, it's both ways. And it's the same thing on racism conversations. So what if a black person asked a white person for their story and their experiences with different races, this is both/and, it's mutual. That's actually, what's dignifying, is when we're getting into each other's lives, into each other's worlds.

Jermaine Arphul: 54:53 And then let's be wise on social media, let's be wise when we see something or someone that says something that might be off putting, or you know, just stirs up something in us, an emotion in us. Rather than replying back in a way that just, if someone were to look at it, it just creates more division. What if we responded maybe what the direct message to the particular person, not in the public forum, but just a direct message and say, hey, what exactly did you mean by that? Or, Hey, can you clarify exactly what you meant? And start a dialogue there, right? Instead of just blasting out your emotions and your thoughts to where other people see that, and it all it does, all it does at the end of the day is just great more disunity. Which is a trap that the evil one wants us to step right into, so let's be wise on social media.

Ross Sawyers: 55:49 And then the last one I would say, is to engage systems. If you're in positions in your work, or organizations you're a part of, maybe God's prompting you to look at policies and procedures and the way things work. And are there some things that make it difficult for people of color? There may, or there may not be, but we can engage in the different systems and the injustices that are in those spots, and then how would God prompt us to be a part of those particular systems.

Ross Sawyers: 56:25 I would say at the end of the day my brother Lloyd probably had it down, and it didn't matter what color you were, it didn't matter if you're a homeless, if you are in prison, if you were a single mom, if you're one of the wealthiest people here, he just loved you. And at the end of the day if we'll just ask God in the morning to pour his love through us, it probably isn't that hard. It is linking to God, his word, prayer, and then how can I serve you, encourage you, build you up? How can I pursue you? How can I help you? How can I help in anything that's not going right? How can I be a part of that? And then we followed God's lead on what that is.

Ross Sawyers: 57:23 And then the last thing I want to say and Jermaine will close this in prayer. Some people have asked, we've talked about race, but there's not just problems between black and white people. Why have we not talked about other races? Well, part of the early conversations I had with different people, we felt like in this cultural moment, that this is the specific place we should hang out, and that came from multiple races saying that. That being said, there is not one thing we've said that is not transferable to any kind of racial issue, or any kind of relationship. So I would hope that we can look at the very things we've talked about, and think about how that affects multiple kinds of races, really all over the world, and then right around us as well. Thank you all for being willing to have the hard dialogue, to look biblically. And then we look forward to what God will continue to do in the days ahead,

Jermaine Arphul: 58:22 Amen to that, let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for today. Your mercies are new every single day, and we need that so desperately, and so thank you for that. And Lord, I pray if there's someone listening here this morning, or just watching and listening online, I pray that we would search our hearts in regards to this topic on race. That we would remember what you say, that everybody is made in your image, and that you sent your son to unify us. The real barrier here is not between black, or white, or brown, or different ethnicities, the barrier is between us and you because of our sin. And Jesus came to break down that barrier, he did break down that barrier, Lord. And so I pray that we would start there first, understanding what the truth is, that your word is the truth Lord. And then as we move out of that, Lord, I pray that we just wouldn't be sitting on that, that we would just receive that. Anybody can receive what we're saying right now, Lord. But I just pray that your word would be, it would be sharp, and that it would cut us to the core, to where we would want to move into action and take all of these things into consideration. But also into action, that we would take it out into the courtyard of life, not just here in the church, in between the walls of the church. That we would take it out into life, and one by one, we would lead people to love you.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051