Sunday - October 21, 2018

Series: I Love My Church

 

Call: Love Our Neighbor

Acts 3:1-11

 

Good morning, my name is Eric Clark and I am privileged to be one of the pastors here at Newark Naz. (Jenn Ballenger is serving in Kid City this morning). 

 

Wrapping up our “I Love My Church” series today. 

  • Celebration: Love God (defining what worship truly is, looked at the woman at the well)
  • Community: Love Each Other (identifying where we fit in the story of the paralyzed man and his friends)
  • Call: Love Our Neighbor (we are going to be looking at a story in the book of Acts)

 

From 2005-2012 there was a tv show called “Dirty Jobs”. The host, Mike Rowe, traveled the world looking for jobs that most of us here today would run away from, rather than volunteer our time. 

 

In the pilot episodes (so before the show was really even a show), the host did jobs such as: collecting bat droppings, fish gutter, septic tank inspector, golf ball collector, and he served as a road kill collector. If anyone here today has these jobs, I applaud you for all the hard work you endure to provide for your family! 

  • Thought of showing a clip, but I didn’t want anyone running out of the sanctuary in the first 5 minutes. 

 

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us in this room are not filling out an application to be the next road kill collector. 

 

With all the jobs that the host of Dirty Jobs endured, there was no way he could do the job without getting his hands dirty. He would roll his sleeves up, and get to work. 

 

I want to challenge us this morning, that to some degree this is how the church should view our call to love our neighbor. When I think about Jesus as the 2nd person of the Trinity prior to becoming the sweet little baby in a manger, I picture Him sitting at the right hand of the Father, the angels crying out holy, holy, holy. Scripture tells us that everything in heaven and on earth is His. Jesus was fully whole and in perfect communion with the Father and the Spirit. 

 

And yet despite being in the perfect situation of being in the heavens, Jesus recognizes that you and I needed a Savior. So, Jesus rolled up His sleeves and got ready to get to work.

  • And if you don’t know how that story turns out, check out one of the Gospels and be prepared to be blown away at Jesus love for you!

 

The idea of rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty, doesn’t just stop with Jesus. The call to love our neighbor is a call for you and I to link arms with Jesus as we reach out to those in need. 

 

In the Gospels we read a specific interaction with Jesus and Pharisees where the Pharisees are trying to trip/trap Jesus. They asked Him what is the most important commandment. Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

Jesus took the call to loving our neighbor pretty seriously. God tells us 50 times in the New Testament to love one another. 50 times! 

  • If my wife tells me something 50 times (which some times it takes that many times to get through to me), I know whatever she’s telling me is something that she firmly believes in. 
  • Loving others is something that is very near to the heart of God.
  • Francis Chan, “One thing the New Testament makes clear is that the Church is supposed to be known for its love. Jesus says our love for one another is the very thing that will attract the world.”

 

This morning, I want us to read a story where the disciples, now apostles, live out their call to love their neighbor. 

 

 

Acts 3:1-11

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

 

I love how in this passage of Scripture Peter and John are actually living out the 3 C’s of Newark Naz: 

  • Celebration- They were headed to church to celebrate their love for God.
  • Community- they were together doing life and ministry.
  • Call- love their neighbor… they saw the crippled beggar and healed him. 

 

Thank you to Peter and John for being the perfect example of living out the 3 C’s. 

 

Teaching on the story: 

  • Peter and John were still observing Jewish custom by going to the temple in the middle of the day to pray. 
    • You know they loved God if they were headed to church at 3p.m.!
  • As they were entering the temple gates they noticed the man who was placed in front of the gate. 
    • Scripture says he was there everyday. Some commentaries believe this man was around 40 years old when this account took place. So for 40 years, this man sat in front of the temple! 
    • Peter and John had to have seen this man before as they entered into the temple. 
    • I wonder what made them take special attention 
  • He more than likely the beggar asked Peter and John for money but was looking beyond them and asking others for money as they entered or left the temple. 
  • Peter and John looked at him intently and asked the man to look at them. 
  • Peter gave him something far more precious than gold or silver, he gave the man Jesus. 
  • Peter ‘rolled his sleeves up’ and helped the man to his feet. 
  • The man couldn’t contain his excitement and he began walking, leaping and praising God for being healed. 
    • What a scene this must have been! 
  • V. 8, Peter, John, and the healed man went into the temple together. They went to church together! 
  • Others recognized him and we read later in chapter 4 that many came to know Jesus as a result of this healing. 

 

One of the reasons I truly do love our church is because Newark Naz isn’t just about what happens during the (enter whatever service we are in) here at Williams Street or during the 10:30a.m. service over at our Real Life location. 

 

If our only time for Church is the 65 minutes we gather here on a Sunday morning, we are missing the call God has on our life. When we are living out our Christian walk, we should be just as much in communion with God at 2:00p.m. on a Thursday as we are on a Sunday morning. 

 

Our church is made of Christ followers who take serious the call to love their neighbor. 

  • Foster parents (have them raise their hands)- loving children during very difficult circumstances.
  • Bill and Pat Weaver
  • Adam and Jayme Diener, Mike and Pam Roberts
  • I could brag all day on our students within this church that love their peers in the name of Christ!
  • Thank you for being the church. 

 

I love our church! 

 

Years ago I had someone tell me, “If you were the only ‘Jesus’ someone saw, what would their understanding of Jesus be?”

 

How do we truly love our neighbor? 

  • Numerous ways! But this morning let me give you an easy acronym to remember…
  • ACT
  • A: Acknowledge your neighbor (Peter and John looked intently at the man)
    • Aren’t you thankful that God sees you and I
    • Take notice of those around you. 
    • This is a challenge for me at times! I get so focused on what I need to do and how I need to get it done by this such and such time frame. 
    • Someone on the pastoral staff that does an amazing job at this is Cheryl Simpson does such an amazing job of seeing those around her! 
  • C: Care for your neighbor (Peter didn’t just noticed the man, he took action in a loving manner. He even reached down and helped the man up).
    • Our call isn’t just to notice people and think ‘good luck with that’! Rather, our call is to take it a step further, and actually do something. 

 

  • T: Tell your neighbor about Jesus and how He has transformed your life. (Peter didn’t have any gold or silver, but He gave him something far more valuable- Jesus Christ!). 
    • Newark Naz does quite a few outreach events where we are trying to meet someone’s need (such as school supplies, homeless outreach, school partnerships, etc). But we do those things so that we can establish relationships to then tell others about Jesus! 
    • Jesus is the only one who truly can bring any change in a person’s life! Our call to love our neighbor is to love them enough to tell them about this person who has radically transformed you and I’s life!

 

I’ve had the opportunity to be in youth ministry for quite a few years now. I tell people all the time that I truly love what I get to do. One thing I’ve learned in working with students is that you have to be very clear in what you’re asking them to do. So, each week I try to issue a clear and simple challenge…

  • This week, our challenge (or our call) is to ACT. I pray that God begins to show you at least one person you can ACT (acknowledge, care for, and tell about them about Jesus) towards. 
  • Over achievers- find someone everyday this week. 
  • We serve a God of action, and I’m convinced He has called his Church to be people of action as well.