SHINE 40 Days of Love and Light- "Care" pt. 1

Pastor Terry Inman

02-28-16

How to make caring connections with loved people.

 

The last two weeks we have been talking about praying for loved people. By that we mean the people that have not yet found Jesus to be their Lord and savior. They are people we know and love.

 

They are definitely people God loves. Today we will talk about how to make care connections with these loved people.  

 

SHINE is our theme for these 40 days of love and light.

Prayer—Care—Share is our simple strategy for letting our light shine.

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
(Matt. 5.14-16 NIV)

 

Jesus communicated this to fishermen and farmers on the slopes overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Hundreds had gathered for a few days for an outdoor opportunity to hear this famous teacher, healer and prophet. Many believed he was the promised Messiah, others were curious.

 

These impoverished Galilean people were marginalized and ostracized. They were politically and economically oppressed. They were considered social riffraff by their Judean neighbors, especially the religious leaders.

 

This area along Galilee was known for its spiritual darkness. The Religious leaders in Jerusalem considered these country folks, backwater people unenlightened and shady. It was a shadow-land of darkness, and death.  

 

The Messiah was prophetically destined to come to them. Matthew quotes Isaiah’s prophecy.
“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Matt. 4.16 NIV

Light shines the brightest in dark places.

 

According to Jesus these underprivileged people were actually blessed. The “Beatitudes” or blessings were part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

It was His manifesto on the nature or culture of His kingdom.

 

Here’s my version of these Kingdom blessings: Matt. 5.3-10     

   You’re blessed if you’re spirit poor you’ll get kingdom rich.

   You’re blessed even in your grief you can expect relief.

   You’re blessed when humbled you’re entitled to the earth.

   You’re blessed with an appetite for what’s right you’ll be fulfilled.

 

   You’re blessed when you’re merciful it becomes reciprocal.

   You’re blessed with a pure heart you’ll get God’s attention.

   You’re blessed as a peacemaker you’re just like your father God.

   You’re blessed if you’re wronged for right you’ll be rewarded.

Jesus didn’t promise these deprived people financial success and political clout—He promised them His kingdom! Then he said, “You’re the salt of earth”. Don’t loose your flavor. Stay tasty! You’re the light don’t hide it!

 

I’m sure Jesus pointed out the village lights reflecting across the distant shores of the west bank when he made this declaration…  

 

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

 

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matt. 5.14-16)

 

The Bay Area leads the world in innovation. We are the center of secular enlightenment but we are engulfed in spiritual darkness. I grew up in a Christian culture. Not everyone was a true believer but at least we acknowledged God and most everyone embraced Judeo-Christian values.

 

Not now. Things have changed. The vestiges of Christian faith are being challenged and the culture has changed. It is so easy to become reactive. Many believers are hurt, if not angry that our preferred Christian culture has been all but extinguished in our government and our institutions.

 

Many in the church are retreating or reacting. Our voices have been silenced in the workplace and marketplace. Facebook is full or religious and political ranting. But light is attractive not reactive!

 

It’s interesting that Jesus said you are light. He didn’t say you are sound! Maybe we need rediscover ways to be seen more and heard less!  

 

Jesus gave two clear directives on how to share the light. Someone labeled them the great commission and the great compassion.

 

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
(Matt. 28.19-20 NIV)

 

The great compassion tells us how to make disciples…“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.”
(Luke 10.27 NIV)   

 

Making disciples in our culture is not easy it must begin with compassion. We must earn the right to be heard. Kindness and concern opens hearts.

 

Today I would like to share five ways to demonstrate authentic care—look, listen, learn, give, and serve.

 

First, Look: Observe their unmet natural and spiritual needs.

 

The story of Jesus’ compassionate encounter with the Samaritan woman is revealing. Our own race, religion, gender, and culture can easily blind us to people with real felt needs. The bible says, “God looks on the heart”.

 

On their way back to Galilee from Judea Jesus took the route most Jews avoided through Samaria. At mid-day Jesus rested at an ancient well dug by Jacob. While the disciples were out to lunch a Samaritan woman came from the nearby village to draw water. Jesus made a caring connection.

 

He had every right to make judgments about her immoral lifestyle. There were also clear social boundaries between Jews and Samaritans. They were considered a mixed race with their own religious ideologies. Rabbis would certainly keep their distance from this sinful woman.

 

Jesus, operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, knew of her reputation. After five failed marriages she was now cohabiting but he looked beyond her sinfulness and saw a spiritually thirsty woman.

 

He gained at least her immediate curiosity if not respect by asking her for a drink of water from her ancestor’s well. She saw that he was without a cup and was apparently willing to drink from hers. He honored her!

 

Then when Jesus offered to quench her emotional longing with living water she was mystified but thirsting for more. He said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 

She quickly responded, “Sir give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
(John 4.13-14 NIV)   

 

Jesus told her to invite her husband.He gently revealed her brokenness by simply suggesting something appropriate and respectful. You wouldn’t carry on a conversation with a woman in her culture especially at this emotional and spiritual level without the presence of her husband.

 

The next step in compassion is—Listen: Attend to their expressed concern with empathy. When she said she was single. He confirmed it and sensitively added his insight about her failed marriages.

 

She wasn’t put off by this revelation. She immediately recognized that he was a prophet. People feel loved and cared for when we wisely disclose something that only they and God know. It feels very supportive.

 

That leads me to the next stage in compassion. Learn: Ascertain their real needs and how to support them.

 

This woman’s response was typical of someone who felt some shame and needed to hide in her religion. She attempted a religious argument. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

 

Jesus redirected the conversation to a deeper need. He didn’t debate world religions he led her to a relationship with God. In so many words he told her God accepts people who worship him spiritually and genuinely.

 

“The time has come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4.24

 

When the disciples returned from lunch in the village they where rather surprised to see him chatting with her. They urged him to eat. He said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

 

Jesus had so much passion about his mission of compassion that it was more fulfilling than lunch. That’s why it’s good for us to fast and pray—It intensifies our compassion. It also sensitizes us to spiritual perception.

 

One look and Jesus observed this thirsty woman’s emotional and spiritual needs. His compassion convinced her that he was the Messiah. She left her water pots and ran into the village to invite everyone to meet the source of living water.

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4.29 NIV)

 

As they came streaming out of the village on a hot afternoon, Jesus told his disciples,
Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
(John 4.35 NIV)

 

The disciples were hot and hungry and didn’t especially like Samaritans. They once asked Jesus to bring fire down on some unfriendly ones. They were consumed with themselves.

 

Jesus took a look. He was observant of this woman’s unmet natural and spiritual needs. He took the time to listen. He attended her expressed concern with empathy. He also learned. He ascertained her real needs and knew how to support her.

There’s another story that illustrates the final steps of compassion. It’s about the hands-on compassion of a Good Samaritan. First the next step:

 

Give: Offer resources that will enable and empower them.

Earlier I mentioned the great compassion, which concludes with neighbor loving. Love your neighbor as yourself. A lawyer attempting to justify himself asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

 

Jesus responded with a parable about the good deeds of a Samarian traveler. To this religious lawyer and many others of his race there was no such thing as a Good Samaritan. Jesus told him this story...

 

A Priest and a Levite passed up a victim of assault along the road. This almost sounds like one of those Priest, Rabbi and Pastor jokes. They went out of their way to avoid contact. His blood would make them impure for their ceremonial duties at the Temple.

 

A Samaritan stopped for this badly wounded Jew. He poured his oil into his wounds, bandaged him up put him on his donkey and got him to an inn. He paid the innkeeper to take care of him until he could return.

 

Jesus asked the legal expert, who was the real neighbor? He answered, “the one that had mercy on him”. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise”.
(Luke 10:27-37 NIV)

This is Jesus’ radical illustration of neighboring. Compassion is offering our resources that will enable and empower them.

 

Finally let me add this one—Serve: Assist in ways that promote their dignity and destiny.

 

In both stories the Samaritan woman who received compassion and the Good Samaritan who gave compassion people were served in ways that restored dignity and destiny. Sometimes the way we care for folks that are different than us is demeaning to them. As the donor or caregiver we one up them.

 

People need more than a handout they need a hand up! I appreciate the way Convoy of Hope refers to the recipients of assistance at their community outreaches. They serve them as “honored guests”.

 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit who are neighbors are and how to serve them. Take the “I LOVE FUN ” piece out of you worship folder. Look it over for some ways to make caring connections with people.

FUN stands for Fremont Union City and Newark. We are going to have some fun next Sunday loving and caring for people in our communities.