Pastor Dan Eddy
Matthew 22:37-39 & Colossians 4:5-6
Your Neighbor’s Perspective
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself, and I will be
Ever only, all for Thee.
(Hymn: Take My Life and Let it Be, LSB783 verse 6)
Jesus said: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6 (ESV)
Good morning. Pastor Dan decided to take a week off from preaching and asked me to fill in for him.
Who am I? I am your neighbor.
I am the guy to lives next door.
The woman you buy coffee from every morning.
The child who plays soccer with your kid.
I am the coworker who sits across from you at work.
I am the obnoxious cousin.
The teacher at school.
I sit next to you in your classes.
I could even be sitting next to you right now.
I am the boss at work.
The employee who keeps showing up late.
I go to movies with you.
I have befriended you on Facebook.
I see you at the fitness center, or when you get your hair cut.
We play sports together.
I am one whose blogs you read.
I am on your email list…you know the one you send those cute or funny emails to. I really liked that last one.
I seek advice from you on parenting, or fishing, or finances.
I am in a nursing care facility, and probably will be for the rest of my life.
I am the one you volunteer with. We sit on the same committees together.
I may even live in your own home.
And I am the one who on Sunday morning sleeps in, reads the paper, or plays sports and rarely, if ever, attends church.
I have kids who have never been baptized.
I don’t know a lot about the Bible.
I may say Jesus is a good teacher. Oh, I also say I worship God on my nature walks, on the golf course, at the ball park…but I don’t. I just tell you that to throw you off.
But, I have questions about God. I look strong on the outside. I am confident. I will throw objections at you all day long about church, God, Jesus, faith, Heaven and Hell.
I will make fun of you, harass you, or sit in the corner and seethe at you…just because I know you have something I don’t.
Like I said…I look strong on the outside but I am falling apart on the inside. I am missing something big in my life and just don’t know how to get it.
I am burdened by guilt…and I have no outlet for relief. I find pleasure in self-medication, alcohol, pornography, work, TV, movies, Facebook, and yet I feel empty.
I can give you a list of accomplishments…ways I do good. I think I am a good person…but I know on another level I am not.
I don’t want to face my dark side…but I know if I don’t…It could bring me down where I feel I could never get up.
I’ve heard of this Bible passage Jesus spoke: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
It sounds like a love different than what I know, what I hear about on TV, see in the movies, or have experienced in my life. And it sounds like the two commandments are related. That you really can’t love God with everything He gave you unless you can also love me like you love yourself.
I am an outsider watching you…so how will you walk with me? How do you think about me? How do you speak to me? How will you show God’s love to me? How much time will you spend with me?
Do you have an urgent love that does not want to see me live forever in Hell? Are you words ones of God’s encouragement? Do you bring me the salt of Christ as you are seasoned by His Word during worship? Do you know how to respond to someone like me?
Can you explain what it means that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for me? And why should I care if He really did rise from the dead.
So even though I know you don’t like to talk about your faith…and I act in ways to not encourage that…keep thinking of me. Start or keep walking in God’s wisdom with me, praying for me.
Don’t stop conversing with me. Don’t stop telling me about your God. I have a lot I need to know…I’m just not going to tell you that…right away, until you get to know me better.
Your message is tough to understand, because it’s unlike anything else I’ve heard in my life.
If I were to die tonight….I don’t know if I would go to Heaven. And I don’t know what I would say if God asked me why I should be there. Maybe, because I haven’t done any major wrong…maybe because I have done some good in this world…but I have a feeling those answers will come up short.
Does God really forgive all my sins, even the really deep and dark ones?
And what’s up with this Baptism and Communion stuff?
I need to know more. Are there ministries at your congregation that could help me? Are their people I can meet? Are there things you can show me that tell me how you and your congregation care for others?
Now I may say I have faith and don’t need to go to church. That’s not what I really believe. I’m in denial. I’m looking for a friend who really loves me with this special love....that doesn’t just love to be around me…but cares where I will be after this life…and how I can better live this one.
I am scared to death and of death…even though it doesn’t show.
What could you do?
Pray for me…even if I tell you not to.
Listen to me, even if you don’t have the time.
Write a note, even though you’d rather do something else.
Remember to follow-up on things we’ve talked about.
Share how the Lord has and continues to change your life
Pray with me with those short, direct, to-the-point prayers.
Be there when my kids are sick.
Comfort me when a loved one has died or when I’m feeling down.
Tell me more about this Jesus.
And yes, it’s okay to invite me to church…I may look insulted, will turn you down, but I appreciate the offer and you never know when I might accept.
And when I come…please let me know it’s okay to just sit and observe. And that if I don’t understand everything, that’s okay. You, the Pastor or others can help me.
In any case…don’t give up….even if it looks like I want you, too. Keep listening; keep caring…even if I don’t show appreciation. Let your words always be seasoned with grace. Keep loving me…I have a feeling there’s just too much at stake if you don’t. Too much at stake today and for eternity.
It is necessary that you know how to answer me, and love me for Jesus’ sake.