The Depth Of Being A Good Neighbour.

What comes to mind when you think of "The Good Samaritan" Story?

Do you put yourself in the picture? If so, where?

Let's read the story to remind ourselves. Luke 10 verses 30-35.

V30. A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jerico, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
V31. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
V32. So to a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
V33. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where where tha man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
V34. He went to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring on wine and oil. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.
V35. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him', he said, 'and when I return, I will reinburse you for any extra expense you may have'.
First of all I suggest that we should not think of the story in terms of Old Israelite conventions. This is not just a story of how Priests and Levites could excuse inaction. Let's look at it in a more global sense.

Global point #1. WE are like the victim of the story. In a dangerous world situation, DYING and needing to be rescued! This person pictures all the lost people before Christ finds them! We were dying in our sins and no human could save us! But perhaps that's getting a little ahead in the story.

Global point #2. Next a Priest comes along the same road and walks straight by on the other side. The man was going from Jerusalem to Jerico, and the Priest seems to be going in the same direction. Since he wasn't going up to the Temple he didn't have a problem with staying ceremonially clean so that he could serve! No, he as with the Levite after him could have helped but were indifferent. The compassion that should be shown to the stranger in distress is missing.

Isn't that something that happens today in our society also? A dishevelled person is seen on the side of the road. Do people stop to investigate, or do they assume it's a drunk and walk straight by? So even the Priest and the Levite are representatives of people in general.

Global point #3. Along comes the Samaritan. Ah! Now we're talking! Are you seeing your role now? Is that how you picture yourself? We'd like to think so, but in reality this is speaking of Christ. It's Jesus who comes to our rescue. It's Jesus who binds up our wounds. It's Jesus who pours his spirit on us and soothes us with his peace.

Then he carries us and puts us in a place where we can be protected and nurtured and brought to health. The CHURCH! And Christ pays the price for us to be there. And any other expenses we run up after this, Jesus will pay also. So Christ is the perfect neighbour and living in us he tells us to 'Go and do likewise!'

So those are three points that spring from the story. As good neighbours, we are to introduce people to the living Christ. Introduce them to a relationship with his church. Introduce then to Christ who is their rescuer, healer, and their peace.

But does our role stop there? We bring people to a realisation of their need for Christ; we help them in physical ways; and then do we carry on as normal? Our conversation is about all the usual mundane things. We talk about our hobbies to score points and we talk about our knowledge of Christ and his word for the same reason. Knowledge either in a legalistic or non-legalistic framework can serve to puff up and lead to feelings of superiority and self-righteousness. Remember knowledge will pass away, it's love that will last throughout time!

So what is our role as individuals towards others in the Church.

Let's turn to and read Eph 4: verses 11 - 16.

V11. 'It was he who gave some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, (12) to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, so that the body of Christ might be built up (13) until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ'.

++SO.++ The prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are 'to prepare God's people for works of service'.

That service is 'so that the body of Christ might be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the son of God'. Till we all attain the the stature of the completeness of Christ.

V14. 'Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. (15) Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ'.

++SO.++ We come into the Church as infants, but we must learn to -

'Speak the truth in love and all of us, in all things, must grow up into Christ who is the head'.

V16. 'From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, (YOU ARE THOSE LIGAMENTS), grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does it's work'.

++ SO++ Ponder that. All around you are your neighbours; parts of the body of Christ. And you are to support them in love, and in love help them to grow into Christ. Each part has it's work to do to build the body. That is; the work Christ is doing to make the body grow to be like him; like it's head!

Is there a work being done to build up the body? Are you supporting?

Is there something that you see can be done to support the body? Are you passing by?

Do you need support in a particular way? Are you making it known early so help can be given?

We are to love our neighbour. But it's not just pertaining to physical help. Perhaps the biggest works of service, we are just coming to realise, should be in the spiritual area as we build one another up. Or, better put, "As Christ through us builds the body up to the measure of the fullness of the head, 'himself' - as each part does it's work.