Christmas In My Neighborhood - Who Are The People In My Neighborhood?

Exploring the command to love you neighbor as yourself.

Chuck Martin
Dec 1, 2019    36m
In this sermon Pastor Chuck Martin explores what the command to love your neighbor as yourself looks like in action. He challenges us to apply this scripture right where we live, get to know who your neighbors are and learn and understand the differences in their belief systems. Video recorded at Frisco, Texas.

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I'm Chuck Martin lead pastor of First Baptist Frisco. Thanks for watching our online messages. It's our prayer that today's message will be an encouragement your walk with Christ. If you don't have a church family that you're part of come join us. Thanks again for watching.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I had a great ending to my Thanksgiving. Great to see you this morning. How many of you grew up with Sesame Street? Just curious. How many of y'all make Sesame Street fans here? Okay, Sesame Street actually started in the late 1960s. And I remember when our kids were young. I mean that was one of the one of the things that we allowed them to watch. Right? And

I don't know if you picked up on the lyrics of the song, kind of in the background, to introduce the message series, but it was “Who are the people in your neighborhood?”. Ya’ll remember this song? It's kind of one of those ear worms because once you get it in your, your head is hard to kind of get it out. Here's the words for it - the people in your neighborhood. It asked the question. “So, who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood? Say who are the people in your neighborhood the people that you meet each day.” And then it goes through like, “the postman or the postman brings the mail through rain, snow, sleet or hail. I'll, I'll work the whole day through to get your letters safe to you cause the postman is a person in your neighborhood”, and it's like, “ a postman is a person in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood. The postman is the person in your neighborhood, oh the person that you meet every day.” Right? And then it goes through and there's the dentist and all these other people and so that, the earworm for this whole thing is… “they are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood.” I mean, I could lead us in a little round of that, we could break it up. Okay, I'll spare us that. But that song asks a great question and that question we're going to talk about for the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. Who are the people in my neighborhood? And what is God calling me and you, to love them. And how is God calling us to behave, to relate, to care, for the people in our neighborhood? And so, here's what I want you to do - whether you live in Frisco proper, you live in Little Elm, you live in McKinney, whether you live in Prosper - I want you to think for just a moment about your neighborhood. Who lives in your neighborhood? Think about the people on your street. You realize, 1/3 of Americans cannot name a single neighbor. How many of your neighbors can you name? As you think about, just run through your mind - next door, two doors over, three doors over, front, back - how many of those do you know? Do you know them by name?
We're going to be challenging each other, to apply the scripture, right where we live. And so today, what we want to do is - we're going to address – so, what is it mean, basically, who is my neighbor? And what does it mean to love my neighbor? You see Jesus summarized, really God’s desire. Very interesting God's will, for each of us, in Matthew 22, very familiar passage to many of us. I want to start there this morning Matthew 22:36-40. Notice the question in verse 36, Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? The other words he was asked, what's the most important thing? Like if I, if I, had to prioritize where do you start? And notice how Jesus replied, verse 37, Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul and all of your mind. In other words, put God first in your life. But it's interesting, he says, he uses that word, Love the Lord your God, he doesn’t just say obey the Lord your God, he says love the Lord your God. And I think it's fascinating that it begins with loving God and then he says, and the second is like it, we should finish, look at verse 38, This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. And then he summarizes in verse 40 says, All the Law and the Prophets, the Law, meaning the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament and the Prophets, meaning basically, he's referring to Old Testament scripture, All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands. Love God. Love your neighbor. I find it fascinating, and you can even sometimes, even forget, that what God is after is more than just obedience. He uses the word love. In other words, God is, is after something more than just our intellect - what we think. He's, he's after more than just our behavior. He's after our affections, our attitudes, dare I say, our prejudice.
What does it mean to love God fully? What does it mean to love my neighbor as myself? Those are heart words. What God is after is something that reflects his very catcher, very nature, character, right? Because God is love 1 John tells us. And certainly we can describe God in so many different ways. But if God's primary orientation toward his creation, toward you and I, as a that of love, so much so, that he sent his one and only son and demonstrated his love for us in this that Christ died for us. And he calls us to love our neighbors. So, wow, when you think about that, you think wow! So, what does that mean? Well, it means, it means something that should be lived out or affect my behavior. It should affect my attitudes. It should affect how I see others. It should affect how I live my life. Romans Chapter 13 Verse 9, Paul writes, and he talks about the Commandments and he lists some of them. Don't murder, don't steal, don't covet. He said the Commandments are summarized by this one command, Love your neighbor as yourself. James refers to loving your neighbor yourself as the Royal Law of Love. Okay or the Royal law. And so, what I want to do for a moment, is as I want to I want to visit this question of who is my neighbor. If you have your Bibles turn to Luke chapter 10, Luke chapter 10 very familiar parable of Jesus, very familiar story of Jesus. And as you turn there, I want to read just the first section of that, for a moment, because again, it sets up what we're talking about today.
Luke Chapter 10 verse 25 and it says, On one occasion an expert in the Law stood up to test Jesus teacher. He asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, teacher, tell me what path do I take? What, what do I need to do, to be right with God? To have a relationship with God? To have eternal life? It's interesting that word eternal life, is a word Zoe. It's more than just a biological life. He’s saying, what is, what is it like to have life here as God, only God gives? And also, life everlasting, eternal life, true life? Jesus said, What is written in the law? He replied, how do you read it? And he answered. He makes you wonder if maybe he'd heard Jesus teach, although this was not this was not unfamiliar and he answered, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. That's exactly what Jesus had answered when he was asked, what is the greatest commandment? So, he’s telling Jesus something that Jesus clearly taught. And something that was well-known or associated with Jesus. He's got, you got the answer. Well, according to Old Testament scripture. According to what you teach here's the answer and notice how Jesus responds, You have answered correctly. Jesus replied, Do this and you'll live. Okay great. Now go do that and then notice the next thing and he said, But he wanted to justify himself. Verse 29 and so he asked Jesus and who is my neighbor?
In other words, okay. Can we can we narrow this down just a bit? You see when Jesus taught and when Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors. He's he's in this parable going to illustrate, exactly what that looks like. He's going to challenge the conventional thinking of his day. The reality is going to challenge us as well today. Because you see human nature is such that we want to determine or define that word neighbor to as narrow of a scope as possible? Okay. You see in Jesus’ day, they defined neighbor, and even the word itself, kind of lends itself. Neighbor, it's an Old English term, which means someone nearby - in other words someone that is close. And, and, and in that tight-knit Jewish community that was true of Palestine in the day of Jesus. Those who were in the audience listening, for the most part, would have associated a neighbor, as someone who is a fellow Jew who lived in close proximity. And Jesus is going to tell a story illustrating someone who acted in a certain way that was not Jewish and was not from an area close. Now what Jesus is going to do, is challenge us to, not simply define neighbor, but to talk about what does it mean to be a neighbor. Okay? And so as we do that this morning, I want to just pause for just a moment because if we're, if you, were to put yourself in the shoes of Jesus listeners, in his day, you would have sent - you would have assumed you knew who your neighbors were – “neighbors, that would be fellow Jews, within this area”. And other words people like me, for the most part. Okay?
Now Jesus challenges that assumption in The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 5 and he said, If, if you're only going to love those who love you in return what good is that. Right? In other words. Jesus is challenging us and throughout his teaching. He challenged us to love those. He said pray for your enemy, love those who are not like you. Right and he's going to illustrate what that looks like in just a moment. Before we get there, I just want to pause for a moment. I want us to think about our neighborhood. Want to think about where you live.

Who is your neighbor? What is the makeup of your neighborhood? Think about that with me for a moment? How many of you have been in Frisco 10 years or more raise your hand? You've been here 10 years or more? Okay. If you've been here 10 years or more, you've seen a lot of change have been here 20 years or more you've seen even more time. You've been there 30 years or more you've seen even more dramatic change. I've been here pushing closer to 20 now, hard to believe. And I've seen dramatic changes in Frisco. I've seen dramatic changes not only in the growth of Frisco, but who's moving to Frisco. Right?
Frisco is increasingly becoming an increasingly diverse population by way of background ethnicity. The neighborhood is changing. The neighborhood has changed. Okay, matter of fact, let me share some statistics with you for a moment. If you've seen this, I got from Frisco style, but Frisco At-A-Glance 2018. Here's just some information and also from The Frisco ISD student population. This is just ethnicity primarily, in 2018 notice, notice the breakdown between those who are white, black, Asian, Asian would also include those of Indian decent and then Hispanic. Notice the difference in the FISD student population, even more a third, roughly 30% are of Asian descent, 13% Hispanic, 11 % black, 41% students, in other words, are white. So, the, the minority in the sense, there's no clear majority, but there's, do you realize, there are more students in our school district that are not white and then are white? Okay, that's just, I share that to say we live in a very diverse area and that means that we come from different backgrounds. Racially. Ethnically. We come from different backgrounds religiously. Matter of fact, I drill down a little bit about this - the religious makeup – do you know what the fastest growing religious group in Frisco is? Shouldn't surprise you Hinduism. Those who claim Hinduism as their primary belief, is the fastest growing demographic in Frisco. Okay. The second fastest group for those who were claiming none. Okay? In other words, the increase in those who claim no religious affiliation. And then Muslim would be the third category and that's, that's based on research done by a group called Mission Insight and they do demographics on a specific area. And that's from Frisco and they asked a series of questions. Listen to this, talking about beliefs in Frisco - the question was… Did Jesus actually rise from the dead as the Bible teaches? which would you would say would be a traditional Christian perspective. 52% of those living in Frisco claim to believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead, 48% don't believe that. Okay? Now, of the 52% who claim to believe that - you know, we don't know, now is that, is that true, across the board, do they all get it? We don't know. But we clearly know that half the people in Frisco don't believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Okay. So, what does that say about our community? It means that we are not in the community that is predominantly Christian, is what I'm trying to get you to see. Okay? It's becoming increasingly less Christian. Okay? Matter of fact 24% believe that Jesus was just a moral teacher and 16% believe he was a great prophet only. So now, the reason I share those things with you, is to make us realize, so if that's the case and you think about your neighborhood, you think about your street, you think about your neighbors. I think about my neighbor's - I think about my neighbors who are from a Buddhist background, I think about my neighbors that really don't claim any religious background, right? So, how do we represent Jesus to them? How do we build bridges, which is what we are called to do and how do we love them well? How do we love our neighbors that are not like us - In the sense that they maybe have a different background, a different culture, a different belief, a different ethnicity?
You know, one of the most interesting things, is I read that report on, put together by the group called Mission Insight, they ask questions about what are the concerns of people living in this area. And what I found is really refreshing, and we'll touch on this throughout the series, is that people are people, our concerns are the same. Regardless of your ethnicity or background, cultural identity, for the most part, we worry and care about some of the very same things. You want to know what the biggest concerns were, life concerns, in Frisco, according to this report? Number one is - the biggest felt concern, is that of stress? We live in a very stressed community. Has to do with the pace of life, financial pressures, pressures of parenting, time for friends and family, balancing work and family, caring for aging parents. These were the top concerns – depression, conflict resolution, marriage issues, parenting and addictions. Those are the biggest concerns in Frisco, and they go across the board regardless of which people group we best identify with?
So, here's what I want to do in this message series. Today, we're going to kind of drill down on, so what does it mean to love your neighbor? Okay, first it means is accepting the neighbors that you have. Okay? Accepting the fact that the neighborhood looks different, accepting the fact that God has placed you and I here to be on mission for Him. To love Him and to love our neighbors. It's under the non-optional category from Jesus perspective. Okay? And you don't get to choose your neighbors, you don't. But you can choose to love them. And that's what I'm going to challenge you to do. In this series, we're going to look at the fastest growing segment of our population. And that's those of Asian or Hindu descent. Those that are Hindu and we're going to give, I'm going to give, some information next week about what that worldview is like and how do you build bridges with those from an Indian perspective that are Hindu. And we'll talk about the Indian population here that are that are Christians and there's a significant percentage that are believers in Christ. So, we'll talk about that next week. We're gonna talk about what does it mean to share your faith with someone of a Muslim background or Muslim descent the next week. We talked about the Common Ground we have there in the areas of difference. Okay? And then there were going to talk about how do you share Jesus to those who are cultural Christians - who have some knowledge, but the really need to understand the implications of the Gospel in their life. So how do you build bridges to those that are kind of got enough Christianity to be almost inoculated, so to speak? Okay. So, that's sort of where we're going in the message series and I encourage you to be here, we're going to learn together. Okay, are y'all up for that? It's going to be a little different. It's not Mary and Joseph the next few weeks. We'll get there Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve will be very traditional. Okay? But it's gonna be a little different before we get there and just come and be prepared to take notes. Okay, we want we, want it, we want to learn to be equipped. All right? So, with that in mind, let's jump back to the prayer of the Good Samaritan and let's, let's see what Jesus teaches us in this parable.

Look at verse 30 we’ll read through till the end of it in verse 37, and in reply asking the question, who is my neighbor? Here’s how Jesus replied, and in reply: Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, he doesn't identify, it’s assume that he's Jewish but he doesn't say, that a man is going from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers, and by the way, that was a very Infamous road in that day and it was the dangerous route. They were familiar with it if they were from that part of the world. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. Okay, this like their worst nightmare, but something like right off the pages of the news. Verse 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite. A Levite, it was someone who assisted the priest and you could say in a sense, in our terms, a priest perhaps, you could think Pastor, Levite might be staff member of a church, right? So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, and the Samaritans were those who had some Jewish descent but had intermarried with the Assyrians, the Babylonians and they had become a racially diverse group and they had different belief system and they were considered by many Jews, to be the enemy. So, when you see the word Samaritan in his day, there would have been a, oh, not a Samaritan. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. I love that word, took pity on him, splagchnizomai, in the Greek, which means to be moved in your bowels, which sounds really disturbing. But in Jesus’ day, that meant to feel something deeply, in other words, he was moved with compassion. Okay? Notice what it says, And he went to him, and he bandaged him, in other words he didn't, he did not avoid him, he went to him rather than away from. In other words, he took the initiative, he went to him. He bandaged his wounds, poured on oil and wine. Put the man on his out on his own donkey. He in other words, he risked himself. He invested himself. He 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 that you may have had.’ In others it cost him time, and effort, and money. Verse 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor, was a neighbor to the man who fell in the hands of the robbers?” The expert of the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” He couldn't even bring himself to say the Samaritan, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
You see what Jesus did, as he did so masterfully, is he turned the question on its head. Who is my neighbor, then became what does being a neighbor look like and who can I become a neighbor to? Okay? In other words, as long as we're trying to define, who is my neighbor? Okay. I want to know, who am I responsible to or let's make that, as small of a circle as possible, then we are going to miss some God ordained opportunities. And what God is challenging us to do is to be open to Him, to love the people that are there. And that God puts there, regardless of whether they're like us or not. So, what were some things that this guy did differently than the other two? And we could talk about why the priest or the Levite pass by? I'll mention that in just a moment. But I want to focus on what made this guy different. To begin with, he saw the man differently. It says that the priest saw him, and the Levite saw him, but this guy saw him differently. In other words, he saw someone in there, where something about that individual in need, that he identified with. And as long as you've used someone as a, in a category of other than, then you miss the opportunity to see them as God sees them. You do know people are people. I hope you know that. Regardless of their background, people are people. They have, they are made in the image of God. They are of value. They have, they have the same desires and passion and love. And we're going to see that we share far more than what separates us.
He saw the man differently. How do you see your neighbors? How do you see your neighbors that may be of a different background, different life stage, different ethnicity? Do you see them as God sees them? Do you see them through his lens? The second thing, notice, he identified him, with him. He connected with him and in other words, he took pity he saw, wow, that could be me, right? The third thing he was willing to personally get involved. He was willing to personally get involved. He moved towards, not away.

You see the challenge is for so many of us. We want to stay, it's like the goal of our life is to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. Right? I mean we are into a culture of that convenience and comfort. But here's the challenge. As long as we are comfortable, and we want, we want our circle of friends to be comfortable. We want our church to be comfortable. We want our life to be comfortable. What happens is comfort leads to boredom. And I meet a lot of bored Christians. Okay, another Sunday and I'm kind of going through the motions and let me tell you - following Jesus is not boring. It's not boring. Because if you follow Jesus and by following Jesus, means you open your heart and your available to God. To encourage, to care for, to be a witness to, to pray for the people that are around you. That's an adventure. And if your faith is a little boring and you're like, I'm just like, I'm going through the motions. Then what I would challenge you with is - have you given into, you're making your life about comfort? You see the difference between the priest and the Levite, one of the main differences and the Samaritan, was the priest and Levite said we don't have time, we don't want to get involved. I don't know, it’s risky. We will play it safe. That's so often times, that's what we do, and we miss being used by God.
I love what John Hambrick writes, he says “We will never meet, the best version of ourselves, within our comfort zones.” You will never meet the best version of yourself. In other words, the version that that God wants to make of you, by making your life about comfort.
So, what keeps us from knowing and loving our neighbors? Number one fear and prejudice. I have a friend that I met at the gym, that I work out in. And his English, English is not his first language and therefore talking with him in English - It takes a little bit of work, to be honest. Very intelligent, master's degree - his wife has a Ph.D. I mean highly intelligent, not a question of intelligence. He's just, English is like his third language for crying out loud. And in talking with him about his background and why he came here to the states and he came to study and he was at Ohio State and yada, yada, yada. And you know, and we just kind of struck up a little conversation. Every time he sees me, he like lights up. He's like, “Chuck!”. Took a little while, he found out I was a pastor and he was like, what is that? He comes from a Buddhist background. But one of the things he said to me about Americans, he says, you know, it's lonely, for Chinese who move here, he’s Chinese move here to America. He's, because Americans are found are very friendly but if you sound different and it takes a little effort, most people aren't willing to make the effort. And he says you're different. And I've tried to tell him, that it's not just that I'm a good guy, I think I'm a pretty good guy, but it’s because I know Jesus? His work schedule changed, and I didn't see him for a few months and I'm thinking about him because I ran into him the other day didn't really get a chance to talk to him because I was like the priest and the Levite. I was, I had to go somewhere, do something. I was in a busy. I'm boring guy, I’m a pastor, right? But there he was - when I saw him, “Chuck!”, and I’ve worked to pronounce his name. I butchered it for the longest time. Can you love your neighbor if you don't learn their name? Can you love your neighbor if you're not willing to listen to them and hear their story? Can you love your neighbor if you go, turn away from, rather than toward? No, you can’t, no you can’t. Fear and prejudice, isolation and I think primarily it’s busyness in our culture - time and busyness. I mean one of the things that keeps us from being a neighbor, from loving our neighbors, well is that we're just too busy. Matter of fact, there was a classic study done in the 1970’s at Princeton seminary - it's fascinating. Because it just it speaks to my type. Right? And they had these, these preachers, preacher, Pastor wannabes there taking a class and they gave them an assignment. Okay? You have to do a sermon on the Good Samaritan and so they prepared a sermon on the Good Samaritan and they didn't know they were part of a psychological assessment which is great - set them up. And so, what they did was when the preachers came for their assignment, they were supposed to deliver their speech or their sermon in a particular location. They were then told, oh, the location is changed and for one-third of them, they said you're already late - you better run it's clear across campus and they chose another location far as possible. For another group, they said, oh, you can make it, it's moved but it's the building next door. And then for the last group - they said, oh, don't worry about it - they're not, they never start on time, you have plenty of time and they gave the location to the place next door – true, fascinating study. And here's what they discovered as a result, on the way to give a deliver their sermon on the Good Samaritan, they set up a fellow classmate, who was injured - fake injury, right? Well, I go, “fallen, help!” and those preachers who are delivering their message on the Good Samaritan, about helping those who are need, right? If they were told you're late - only 10% of them stopped. For the group that was told - oh, you have time to make it, don't, don't worry - kind of that middle of the, of the, of the group - more than 40% stopped. But at the group that we're told you have plenty of time, they never start on time anyway, almost 70% stopped and helped. So, what was the difference between their willingness to help and not help in this one a little survey? Their perception of how busy they were.
Are you too busy to love your neighbor? And by your neighbor, it may be your geographical neighbor, but it may be the neighbor of the parent, whose kids are involved in the same thing, that your kids are involved in it. Maybe the neighbor, that is the neighbor, two cubicles over at work. It may be the neighbor in the different context. Here's what I want to challenge us with this morning. Jesus said go and do likewise. How about we take Him up on his word and ask Him to show us. Who are some people this Christmas, that we could be neighbors, to?
When you came in, you hopefully, you picked up a copy of the of the bulletin. On that bulletin, is a little, a little area on the back that says who is my neighbor? If you would just pull that out for just a moment and it says identify three neighbors. They may live near you. They may work with you. You may know through other activities and there’s a place for you to write their name. My neighbor, blank. And there's a place to say, what do I know about them? And then there's a place that says their religious back, practice or background is. And there's a place that can say, that says, one way I can be a neighbor is? Okay - here's what I want you to do. And I'm serious, as we kind of conclude this message, I want you to identify who are your neighbors. If you don't know them by name, describe them. If you do know them by name, who is it that God would have you be a neighbor to? That's the question. And I'm going to ask you to take a moment, as the band comes, and they are going to play quietly. I want us to just do an, all play for and I just to ask open yourselves up to God and say God, who would you, who could I be a neighbor to this year this Christmas season? Who can I be a neighbor to? And write their name down on that piece of paper.

Recorded in Frisco, Texas.
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Frisco First Baptist Church
7901 Main Street
Frisco, Texas 75034