Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘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.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
How can one person impact such a big problem? After spending the last three weeks looking at Jesus’ teaching of “The Good Samaritan”, we take this week to examine how the actions of one person, like that one Samaritan, can make a huge impact. This week is Africa Sunday! Though our church’s global partnerships are active year-round, we take an intentional Sunday each year to focus in on God’s mission in the world and how we can each be a part of it.
What would have happened if the Samaritan of our story had chosen to look only at the enormity of the problem he encountered on the street that day? What if he focused on his unjust place in society, or the probability of crime and violence on the road he was traveling on? Though this story is a parable, Jesus makes a point with it—as well as with his own actions— that even when the grand problem may seem way too big for one person to take on, it’s never too big for him to impact. The good samaritan didn’t get stuck at the size of the problem—he looked at the need he could meet right then and there. Jesus continually chose to spend time caring for the individuals around him. Though the brokenness of our world may seem too big for us, we look today at what God can do with any small step he has fashioned our heart to take.
When answering the question, “What is written in the law?” in Luke 10, Jesus ends his summary with “...and love your neighbor as yourself”. He starts us off with the challenge of one person— “your neighbor”. In a world full of enormous problems, how hard is it for you to fathom all that God can do with your obedience to love your neighbor?
Lead Pastor John Parker said this weekend that, “we don’t throw money at problems, we throw people at them” (figuratively, of course). As a church, we strive to put relationships at the center of our pursuit of justice. Have you ever found yourself thinking that your relative wealth is the only asset you could to bring to people living in poverty? Honestly evaluate how much value you’ve put on the stuff you could give people versus the value of relationships you could build or support being built. Be sure that you aren’t discounting the value of loving your neighbor well, regardless of the amount of material assets you can bring to the table.
Getting involved, in whatever way God leads you, will change you. God will change your heart, how you view the world, your picture of what it means to be a part of his church, and your view of how he works in the world around us. Few would openly argue that this sounds great, but is there any part of you that fears some or all of that change? Take a moment to evaluate if fear plays any role in holding you back from getting involved and ask God to break down any of those barriers in your heart.
As we looked at the parable, we saw examples of people who couldn’t see past all of the problems surrounding the situation to the person on the ground needing help. If all we can see is the problem and not the person, there’s a good chance that we actually won’t be able to impact that problem. Are you able to find the people in the problems facing you who need someone to love them? How have you thought about Africa in the past—in terms of problems or people?
Many of us would say that we can’t solve the world’s problems without God’s help, but how often are we willing to take seemingly small steps in faith, trusting God to use them for big things? Giving our small actions to God gives us an opportunity to see God take action. What small steps might God be asking you to take so that he can show you just how much he can do with them?
As we enter into relationship with those facing big problems, we will be humbled. The things you thought you had to offer may not be what God uses to make a difference, but God will work through you and your world will get a lot bigger and a lot smaller at the same time. Discuss what it may look like practically to look a big problem in the eye and say, “my God is bigger”.
Your next step in joining God’s mission in Africa can take on many different forms. Not one of these steps is any better or more important than the next. What is important is that you take the step, however small or big it may feel to you, that God leads you toward.
Join by praying: Pray for our partner organizations who are already in Africa joining God’s mission there. Pray for our teams going to work with our partners this summer. Pray for the children who are living in the midst of some enormous problems—those who are sponsored and those waiting for a sponsor to join in relationship with them. Be honest with where you are—if you find yourself struggling to care, pray that God would open your heart to his global work.
Join by getting educated: Visit the Resource Center to check out some great resources on the subjects of serving cross-culturally, biblical justice work, and God’s mission in this world. The Join Africa Class is an upcoming three-week course that teaches on a wide variety of topics related to justice and mission. This class is not just for those interested in going on a trip to Africa, it’s a great resource for everyone!
Join by sponsoring: If you didn’t get an chance to sponsor a child this weekend, you can learn more about sponsoring through Children of the Nations, one of our long-standing partners and sign up to sponsor a child on their website. If you have questions about how to sponsor a child in one of the areas that Summit visits, Global Partnerships Coordinator, Nathan Boyett would be happy to help. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.
Join by going: If you’re interested in going to Africa this summer, you can visit our Serve Globally page for more information. The Join Africa Class is also a great next step for anyone considering joining a team.