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Sabbath: Mission to My Neighbor — 20 Comments

  1. I think that one of the most challenging lesson series we have had in recent times was the lesson series in 2019 Q3.
    For me, the greatest challenge was that so many people thought the series was milk and not enough doctrinal meat. There is not enough to discuss in Sabbath School class. There is something seriously wrong with our Christianity if we think that discussing doctrine and prophecy in the rarified atmosphere of a Sabbath School class is more important than interacting with "the least of these" in the real world.

    Perhaps, this week we should close down Sabbath School and go out and meet our neighbours. (Yes "neighbor", for those who spell it differently) Or, are we so isolated that we have to ask the question, "Who is my neighbour?"

    • "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.", King Jesus in Matthew 5:43 KJV.

      "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;", King Jesus in Matthew 5:44 KJV.

      Our neighbours are everyone.

        • It is easy to ask that question Rick, but if you do a little research you will find that work is being done by good Adventist folk who do not want a publicity machine advertising their work. Freeing modern-day slaves is dangerous and needs to be done without fanfare.

    • Happy Sabbath Maurice:
      I am surprised that there could be any criticism of the Sabbath School Lesson as it directs minds to an infinite wellspring of knowledge and understanding.
      Let us demonstrate this by delving deeper into the conversation Jesus and the lawyer.
      Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

      His subsequent perfectly quoted passage of Deuteronomy 6:5 showed that he knew exactly the answer to the question he asked. But when we read Deuteronomy 6:5 it says nothing about loving God as a condition for attaining life eternal. This is an inference that the lawyer made and which Jesus confirmed as correct.

      "do this and you will live." Luke 10:28

      In the following chapter is recorded a telling self confession.

      In Luke 11:43 Jesus warns, "Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice (Psalms 97:2) and the love of God..."

      As the lawyer noted correctly before, revealing Love to God is exactly the condition to inherit eternal life. And Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for their lack of it.

      As the lawyer is listening the the rebuke of Jesus to the Pharisees, he must have felt the something, and so he interjects,

      "Teacher by saying these things, you reproach us also." Luke 11:45

      and thus by his own confession he acknowledged that he was unfit for eternal life.

    • Amen to this, Maurice, Even the Apostle Paul said that even if we know all mysteries and all prophecies and have not love it profits us nothing. Practical Godliness is what we need more than "Doctrinal Knowledge."

  2. Relationships can be difficult. My neighbors and I have grown to care for each other but we have very different backgrounds and values. I would love to be able to talk with them about the gospel message as we would with fellow Christians, but their world view thinks it foolishness. To make it worse they have been hurt by religion and people who wish to preach to them but not understand them or stand with them as equals. To them the idea of God or a Creator who will let the pain and injustices of this world happen makes (if God exists) God a horrible God and Christians are simple minded crazed people who feel that they need to convert the whole world to their egocentric blind world view.

    Yes it is easy to share our faith with other Christians but what to you say to a hurting neighbor to whom God and Christianity is not new or unknown but rather painful.

    The answers seem simple when we read idealistic approaches or discuss in sabbath school, but in a hurting world that has vastly different concepts of God and does not believe in the Bible or that it is infallible... how do we show the gospel to them?

    I plead for them on my knees in prayer, and I see they are wonderful people who like me are searching for a better way of life. There are so many things that I would like to tell them because they comfort me but for them they do not hold the same meaning. I have been praying that my eye can be opened to the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives so I can come along side and work in ways that bring them to an understanding of God and do not drive them further away.

    I pray the Lord pour out His Spirit on the laborers and on the world because the task of changing people's hearts is not one that we can do. Only God can perform this miracle. At least this is my understanding at this time. I would love to hear if others have a different viewpoint or a practical answer of how they work with the Spirit to minister to their neighbors.

    I feel at times I do not speak out because I realize that what I have to say is intellectual knowledge that while being true leads to controversy or debate but does not lift up the Savior that my hurting friends need to meet. I become perplexed about what do I say, and how do I show, and what is God trying to heal and set them free from?

    Does anyone else find themself totally inadequate for the ministry and seeing for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit or that their eyes be opened so they may see the workings of Gos on behalf of others?

    • I can relate to what you're saying as well. I interact with many people who respect me for my convictions, but really have no interest in what I believe in. They feel it's good for me, but everyone has their own truth etc. And their lives are "okay". They don't seem to have really big struggles that provide an opening to share the hope we have.

      It is the Holy Spirit that ultimately makes the difference but God won't force anyone so it does sometimes seem hopeless.

      I guess I feel that a consistent and kind witness is breaking down barriers but it may take a long time. I think we can do is turn away when we see someone isn't interested. We have to show that we genuinely care, even if the person never accepts Jesus. After all, that's how God relates to each of us.

    • I don't think you need to sit down and teach them. Live the life that Christ would have lived with them if He was their neighbor. Show them love and compassion and they will be attracted to how you treat them as neighbors and how you tread your spouse, children etc. Many times we want to teach with our mouths and forget that our actions preach louder than the words we utter.

    • Hi Jpetersen, your feelings and concerns regarding your neighbor are reality and challenging. The solutions in this complex world are not easy at times to find. However, do not be discouraged. Continue to show them what a neighbor, and further a Christian neighbor is like. Instead of being concerned about "telling" just live what you want them to know...be caring, honest, loving, forgiving, etc. By your fruits they will become drawn to wanting to know what makes you different from all others who have failed them. Remember many who were drawn to Christ, did so because they saw something different about Him compared to the religious leaders. It was His "living" that attracted them, then after that they came to know Him. Be faithful God will lead them to you

  3. To the question being posed: who is my neighbor, I’d like to ask myself in the first place „am I a good neighbor?
    For those mathematicians amongst us- Maurice is one- the reverse of the equation should also be true. Which means when I‘m a good neighbor , anyone towards whom I can show love and care is basically my neighbor.

    However, who‘s going to define the attributes of a good neighbor? If we say love, it’s not enough. The Beatles back then sang a famous song: „All you need is love“ and the main lyric revolved around this sentence. We know well what type of love they meant. Others even extended that sentence by adding: „all you need is love, and a dog“!

    So in my opinion, the Ten Commandments define those qualities.
    Do I testify about the one true God? Do I use the name of God in vain? Do others realize that I keep the Lord‘s day holy? Do others see that I don‘t covet what others have. Whether at work or in private life , does anyone who knows me is well aware that I‘m not egocentric, not partial or biased, but showing respect to everyone.

    People of the New Testament flocked towards Jesus, they sought after him, why, because He was the ideal neighbor even towards His enemies.

    His principle was always: „ Others First“.

  4. 'We are a neighbor to our fellow man and so is our fellow man to us'. The parable of the Samaritan brought this to my attention. Love brings out the best in human. Whether we love or being loved, the response will always bless the giver and the receiver because God is in their midst. Man will always be a 'neighbor' to his fellow man.

    In Luke’s account of the Samaritan - 10:25-37 -, Jesus asked the lawyer: ”So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he [the lawyer] said: He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him: “Go and do likewise." The Samaritan was considered as acting ‘neighborly’ - being a neighbor is an action!

    It appears to me that the lesson writer still considers that there is separation between loving God and loving one’s fellow man. I hold that there is not! I consider that we are enabled to love our fellow man in the same way we love our heavenly Father. If our love for Him is lukewarm, so will be our love for our neighbor. The more we love our heavenly Father, the more we are empowered to be ‘neighborly’ – kind, considerate, helpful, attentive, etc.; expressing the Fruit of the Spirit.

    Does not the Scriptures admonish us to love Him with ALL our being? This is not a casual advise, because this will make the difference between a life of 'cool consideration', weighing the pros and cons, and one always ready to engage in service to ones fellow man. This admonition is not meant for a mental exercise of ‘determination’, it rather generates/motivates the engagement/desire of the new nature.

    This spirit of 'love' is a gift from heaven and instilled into our hearts and minds, emotionally and intellectually experienced, and finding its expression in our relationship with our Creator and ourselves, and our fellow man.

    'Loving' in this way, we express and rejoice in His Mercy and Grace as well as in His Justice and Righteousness. We can love Him because the living soul that we are is again able to recognizes its Creator who came to redeem us from this fallen world. We are nothing without Him, but He enabled us to express His Glory to the world – we owe Him everything! Col.1:24-29.

    • I really appreciated your viewpoint. Your statement "Love brings out the best in human. Whether we love or being loved..." is profound and true.

      I have found that I in myself do not possess a love for my neighbor that is unconditional and sacrificial. I connect with this type of love because Jesus demonstrated this kind of love to me, and not only me but to all. My response to His love is not only to love Him in return but to love the people that He loves as well.

      I have been rebuked many times by loving a person who I felt was difficult and who I initially did not wish to love. These precious people however have been the most gracious and loving people and in the end I received the greater blessing for allowing them in my life. It has only been through the love of God to me that I have allowed unconditional love for others to become a part of my life... Although I still struggle daily with the inner man who wishes to seek self. Praise the Lord that His thoughts are not my thoughts but are higher and His love is greater. How I long to be more like Him every day.

      • Dear Jpeterson – I appreciate your sharing your observations. Yes, to love the unloving is where one finds out the ‘limits of one’s capacity to love’ unconditionally. Remember, though, it is not us who love, it is Christ in us who loves our neighbors.

        It is so very important to remember that Christ lives in us - 2Cor.13:5.

        That nothing ‘good’ can be generated by the flesh; that all that is ‘good’ is released by ‘Christ within’ and our readiness to ‘let His Goodness’ be poured out – Rom.8:10.

        We cannot 'will ourselves to do good’; the spirit of 'goodness' within is due to having received and accepted the understanding that 'God's Glory' is with man and we are His vessel – 2 Cor.4:6-7.

        Having received Him, we are called to a life revealing God’s Glory and Grace – Gal.1:15-16.

        We do not live ‘in a Christ-like manner’; Christ lives in us expressing the Father’s Glory and Grace – Gal.2:20.

        • Brigitte,
          I especially like 2 Cor 4:6-7 you referenced above.

          "...that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."

  5. "...Loving God requires full commitment of our heart, soul, body, and mind—daily... our love for others reflects our love for God..."
    This week's topics are up-and-coming! Because it is a challenge to put into practice THE LOVE feeling.

  6. According to the story of the good Samaritan, our neighbor are those who loom out for us, and not necessarily those who sit in the pews or are of the same faith as us.

    The type being fulfilled is that a the gentiles bearing the fruit and the jews emphasizing law. Are we not guilty of the same thing?

    • No Jesus did not do that, but he lived it and in the process showed that true love is practical, down-to-earth, and above all totally unselfish. In particular, it is not kust a feel-good dose of hormones.


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