Is man a sinner or created in the image of God?
Last time up here I talked about serving God, specifically made a point about how all Christians can and should serve God. Doesn't matter if you are a new believer or an old believer, if you're having a good day or a bad day, you can and should serve God. And I talked about many different way in which you could serve.
Today the message will refer to one type of service to God, and that is how we can serve and worship God by loving our neighbor.
Some of you may be thinking that you cannot serve God well because you are not trained properly. You are not religious enough, haven't gone to church enough years, haven't held any official positions, haven't gone to seminary. But that's not true. Most of us will never be a Pastor or a Reverend or a Deacon, but that should not prevent us from serving God especially by loving our neighbor. God can use anyone with a humble heart and a willingness to submit to Him.
Some of you may be thinking that you are not qualified to serve God this way because you are sinful. You are not good enough. It is true that we are sinners. And this is a point that I will discuss later in the message. But even though we are sinners, we can still serve God and reflect his glory when we love our neighbors.
Let's look at an example in the Bible where an ordinary everyday person performed an act of great love to his neighbor.
Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
Many people are familiar with the theme of this story. Or at least have heard of it before.
This passage is only found in Luke, which is a book that emphasizes the acceptance of outcasts (women, widows, the sick, the weak, foreigners)
Why is Jesus even telling this story? Because someone asked him how to get eternal life. That person admitted that he knew the Old Testament commandments (that all devout Jews should have known). --Loving your neighbor as yourself --He was probably good at following them at his convenience. He loved people that were already his friends, or his family. So he asked "now what do you mean by a neighbor?" "and who is my neighbor?"
Jesus goes on to tell the story.
A priest AND a Levite both came by, but passed on the other side. Both were very religious people. They are supposed to do the right thing. But clearly they did not do anything to help. Instead a Samaritan comes. Samaritans were considered outsiders. They were foreigners, how could they be considered my "neighbor?" (Jesus did not mean a physical neighbor, he meant any other human being, your fellow man)
This is what is least expected. Jesus uses this example of this lowly person to make the law expert feel bad. The priest and Levite did nothing, they are closely related to this law expert. The Samaritan does do something. This is not the plot twist he was hoping for. He was totally expecting his people to be the "good guys" of the story.
The Samaritan doesn't just do something, he goes above and beyond. Uses his donkey, cleans the person, risks his own health, uses his own money, gives him a nice hotel, etc. At the end of the story even the law expert admits is was the merciful Samaritan is the one who correctly acted like a "neighbor."
On one hand, the priest and Levite did do the right thing because they could not risk touching a dead body. They did not want to catch a disease, or become ceremonially unclean, according to traditional Jewish law. But more often than not they were ONLY concerned about that.
Luke 11:24, Matt 23:23 (Pharisees followed laws about offering and sacrifice, but neglected mercy and justice. Jesus called them not to give one up for the other, but to do both.) James 2:15-16 (You can't just say I hope you feel better, you have to do something about it).
Pharisees were overly concerned with following the law without seeing that the purpose in the end was to honor God by serving and loving people. We need to follow traditions and rituals, but it cannot get in the way of loving our neighbor. This is a WARNING to us.
Don't let your own self interests in "worship" get in the way of you serving your neighbor
(reference Rick's talk last week). When we worship God, we cannot only think about ourselves. We need to think about God and think about others. That is true worship.
It is not just New Testament teachings that say to accept foreigners. Actually originates from the Old Testament, so the law expert should have been familiar with this. Leviticus 19, which is where the "love your neighbor as yourself" originates from, says to treat strangers in your land as one of your own. And to not harvest 100% of your crops; to leave some leftovers in the fields for the poor and the alien.
Jesus (and Leviticus) emphasizes that everyone is your neighbor
It is interesting that this parable is placed immediately after a passage that describes the exploits of "The 72." Jesus appointed 72 other followers to minister to people, to spread the Good News, and to perform miracles. It is an amazing account in a couple of short verses〞they could heal the sick, and trample snakes and scorpions, and even had authority over demons as they were casted out of people.
Sounds like an amazing team, a Christian dream team in today's terms. (If you heard of this today)
And then the chapter goes into this story about the Good Samaritan. Not very glamorous, not very prestigious or impressive. But it is given equal value because the story is of equal importance. Sometimes we think that to do God's work and to honor him we have to be these super highly qualified model Christians. That is not true. Here in chapter 10 and in the rest of the book of Luke, it shows that God accepts the worship and service and offering of anybody who is willing to give it whole-heartedly.
How could this Samaritan know to show compassion and mercy if he was not religious at all. This Samaritan was not an expert of the law, yet when faced with a crisis situation, he did the what was good and righteous. How could this be? Aren't we all full of sin?
Is man a sinner or created in the image of God?
The answer is very simple 每 man is both. (Sinner AND / but created in God's image)
(Batman movie - Dark Knight) 每 clearly illustrates that man is BOTH.
First thought about speaking on this topic after seeing this movie for the second time.
Scene toward the end when people are on two ships trying to escape the city.
One ship is full of regular citizens.
The other ship is full of prisoners being transferred out.
Both ships carry a large bomb. The ship will explode unless the safety button is pressed. But that will cause the other ship to explode.
A powerful scene carefully placed at the end of the movie - in the midst all this evil and killing and violence and lying and cheating, it shows that the innate morals of the people of the city were still intact and we stronger that the terrorism brought upon by the Joker 每 the representation of Evil in the movie.
The first part is easy to understand and easy to see.
Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Man is fallen. From the moment Adam and Eve committed their first act of disobedience, sin became a part of human life. Inevitable, people are born into it, born with it, we can't help but have it. Paul later goes on in chapter 5 to explain why we need Jesus in the first place. Through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, and we were all bound to death. But also through one person, Jesus, life can be granted and the condemnation can be removed.
Think Sodom and Gomorrah. (Lot and Abraham) The people of that city were so immoral that God could not stand it anymore and he had to destroy the whole place. The same was before during Noah's time (the great flood)
Galatians 5 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Sinful acts have always been around. Humans will always do sinful things because we are in fallen bodies, fleshy beings.
Think about kids when they learn to lie to cover stuff up (innocence of babies is so refreshing 每 bibi)
Talk about my students 每 I get them by the time they are 15-16 in high school and they are already full blown deceivers. Tricky, conniving. Always up to something against the rules, and when I start to walk over they immediately hide and pretend as if nothing is wrong. (looking at a magazine, HW from another class, cell phone, etc.)
The devil is a real being, and evil forces are already ready to strike. They are everywhere.
1 Pet 5:8 because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Watch TV and cannot help but think that our country is totally going in the wrong direction. Violence on TV, inappropriate music videos, lewd song lyrics with curses, etc. Here on the news when people harm each other. New of two separate mass shootings last week. Corruption of company and government officials. Reminded that our world is a fallen sinful world.
But watch the same TV and see signs of hope, that people are doing what is honorable and true, lovely and admirable (Phil 4). TV spots on the news called "making a difference". Things on the news about people who are helping their communities, often called "Good Samaritans" by the newscaster.
(TV show - Extreme makeover: Home edition)
hundreds of spectators and supporters are there, some are there to see the few famous people who are the "design team" but the bulk of the work is done by hundreds of volunteers.
Every now and then we see glimpses of God and of heaven and I am reminded that we are God's creation, and he could not help but put some of his nature into us. His goodness, his love, his beauty.
Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, ※Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;
Psalm 139:14 每 we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God made us, we are his workmanship, he is the master of the universe, he would not make anything that is plain and ordinary.
David Crowder Band lyrics "You make everything glorious, And I am Yours, What does that make me?" God makes everything glorious, and God made us, that means we are glorious too.
Paul calls us to be imitators of Christ and of God, we are the image of God. (1 Cor 11, Eph 5). To minister to people we need to be like Jesus. People today will not physically see Jesus until the day he returns. So for now, we need to be the reflection and image of Christ for the people of the world.
But it doesn't mean that you can be saved by doing good works. Still need the gift of life through Christ's death. But that doesn't mean we should not be doing good works either (like I said in James 2). We have been saved by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus. We are free now from sin by the grace of God. And by the grace of God we can experience a little bit of what he is like whenever we care for our fellow man. Let's not waste that sacrifice or waste that freedom as if nothing has changed.
Galations 5 - You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
(Liberty mutual commercial)
"when it's people who do the right thing, they call it being responsible"
The commercial implies that doing the right thing is what people should do. It is the duty for us to help others. It is our responsibility. Why is it our responsibility? Why am I supposed to help others and do the right thing? Even non-religious people recognize that as humans, it is our calling to "do the right thing." Even our country was founded on judeo christian values. - they thought that is what's right, it is our duty to help others.
Because people are a reflection of God. God is what is good what is right. He is the embodiment of those ideals. We are created in His image, therefore we have that inside of us too. That's why there are Good Samaritans. If people are just random beings with no perfect creator, then we would never come across someone like the Good Samaritan.
We help foster these help-neighbor attitudes. (not like animals not survival of fittest) We are created to be more than just animals (similar, but we have morals, that come from the Spirit of God). It is hard pressed to find an animal that will assist another one that is down. Or help one that is sick. Instead they are left behind and/or eaten by enemies. Humans don't do that, we care for those who are needy, if someone is ill we try to prolong their life as much as possible. I think this Good Samaritan was following the Bible's Golden Rule 每 to love your neighbor as yourself 每 meaning to treat others how you want to be treated. This traveler knew that if one day he was also stranded on a long desert road, that he too would want someone to help him out.
(reference Brian's golden rule) 每 classmates were bothering him back in grade school, and even the guidance counselor told him to fight back, but he didn't because he lived by this golden rule. And it later turned out to set a great example for his classmates.
(ebay 每 founder Pierre Omidyar)
Story about first using eBay and how my friend Ben told me about how it worked. I was very incredulous. Very skeptical. Why would people do that online? Isn't easy to get conned? What's preventing me from just tricking someone and taking their money dishonestly and sending them a phony product (or no product) or taking their product and never paying up?
We believe people are basically good; we believe everyone has something to contribute; we believe that an honest, open environment can bring out the best in people; we recognize and respect everyone as a unique individual; we encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated. I founded the company on the notion that people were basically good and that if you give them the benefit of the doubt you＊re rarely disappointed. So the only thing you can do is have a certain set of values that you encourage people to adopt and the only way your customers are going to adopt those values is if they see that you＊re living those values as well. It＊s all about treating each other the way you want to be treated yourself so that you can do business with one another.
I'm not sure if this founder is a Christian or not, I don＊t think he is. But eBay would not have become the billion dollar company that is it if his founding principles and assumptions about human nature were wrong. From 2000-2006 eBay was a enormous success!
Why should we love these random people? Well why should God love you? There's no reason. He just does it because it is good and right. To God, it is the correct thing to do. The same should go for us.
Who are the neighbors in your life? Friends, family members, co-wokers, someone here are church, enemies?
(reference wendell wyatt's example) 每 He felt so convicted after a random stranger (who was non-Christian) came to help him out on the side of the road, while earlier during his vacation, he ignored another car that was on the side of the road signaling for help.
God said even rocks and trees will cry out and proclaim his glory if no one else does. Not to say that non-Christians are rocks, but even they will show the glory of God if we don't do it. God created us to worship him, one way is to love our neighbors, and if we don't do it as Christians, then God will shame us by using even non-Christians to show this neighborly love.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 每 God turns every thing upside down. He shocks us with the unexpected. He uses the foolish, the weak, and lowly to bring shame those that are mighty and wise. To show that we cannot be proud of ourselves for being good, or we should not boast because we are so religious. He uses people who are not religious at all to bring glory to Him by loving neighbors in the correct manner. Just as the Pharisees are warned, we are warned also.
Let us not focus on the sin. Let us not think that we will never be able to serve God or love our neighbor because of sin. Sin is a part of this world, and sin is in our nature, but #1 每 Jesus has redeemed us with his blood, and #2 每 we are all created in God's image and are capable of love and good deeds. Let's focus on those positive parts, and use it as a basis to love our neighbors.