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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Living What We're Learning: Nothing Matters More than People

This coming Sunday, I'll preach the second message in our new series "Art of Neighboring".  But before I do, it occurs to me that I missed or at least under-emphasized something important in week 1. We'll see it again this week, too, no doubt. In week 1, we took a look at the story of "The Good Samaritan" from Luke 10:25-37.  There are so many beautifully pregnant details in this passage.  On Sunday, I stated that one thing we ought to take away from this passage is that "loving your neighbor means caring for people near you, not just people like you &/or people you like".  I think this is absolutely true, though maybe an extension of what is most emphasized in this specific passage.  It can't be denied that in this passage Jesus is showing us not who we should love but what loving looks like, who we should be, not who should be loved.  Jesus shows us via the Samaritan, whose actions mimic those of Jesus himself throughout the Gospels, that loving means caring for people near us regardless of who they are, what they need, or how occupied we might be.  But the thing I think perhaps I should have emphasized more in this passage is something a little more basic, a little more obvious.  Here it is: Nothing matters more to Jesus than people--not the next item on my to-do list, not my itinerary, not my plans, not anything. Loving people like Jesus did means prioritizing people over my plans, problems, or agenda.

Here's what that looks like on the roads we travel in the 21st century as described by a person who lived it out this week: (The name of the person and some details may have been changed/omitted for the sake of anonymity)
"So talk about God putting you in the right place at the right happened to me on I-20 and it goes along with Sunday's message about how we move through life oblivious, not caring about others. 
I was working out of town all day and ended up working over. To make matters worse, I hit every single red light and terrible traffic on my way back to my office to drop off my work van and close out my work orders for the day. By the time I finally clocked out I had already worked two hours overtime that I wouldn't be paid for. So as I get on my way home 45 mins away, I get caught in traffic again going well under the speed limit, when out of nowhere as I'm crossing the Congaree River bridge, I see a guy about to jump off and commit suicide!! So I jerk my truck over two lanes of traffic, enraging a number of people in the process. I jump out of my truck and run over within 15 feet of the guy then start walking so I don't scare him.  Then I did what I know you're not supposed to do in a situation like this:  I hopped up and sat down on the edge and I said, 'Hey, nice day outside huh? I'm (Joe)', and we start talking. Eventually he gets down and 15 minutes later the police show up and I give him my number. 
There were hundreds of passers-by who were just too busy with their own problems that could have taken the time to pull over and talked to Andre, his name is Andre.  He was going to kill himself because his girlfriend wouldn't let him see his two boys...
So even when you're having a bad day, caught in traffic, stuck at work, or just life is difficult in general, take a second look and keep your eyes peeled. It very well could be a God thing.  It could be him putting you where He wants you, where someone needs you, and not just the devil messing with you. Be still, be patient, have confidence and trust that God will put you exactly where he needs you and at the exact moment he wants you there...If I'm dumb enough to not obey, he'll choose someone else and I'll miss out.  I'm grateful and I feel so privileged that He chose me...and that today I was not one of the hundreds who ignored Andre altogether." 
Nothing matters more to Jesus than people, nothing at all.  Shouldn't it be the same for those of us who follow Him?