Finding Transformers #7
7 PM, Tuesday, November 17, 2020
The Organic Church #07
The Church is a Caring Community
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 / Matthew 22:37-40
Sunday Sermon on August 16, 2020
One of the most impressive things in the American church for me is the “Thank You” card. Then I had an event or special time with people, after several days I would receive a Thank You card. I did not realize how wonderful it was to send a Thank You card to the person who served expressing a thankful heart in a small card.
I tried to write a Thank You card several times. To be honest, it was hard for me to write words on cards and buy stamps and drop them off at the Post Office. I realized that I am overly familiar with text messages by cell and email by computer, instead of writing cards.
I found that expressing and delivering a thankful heart takes time, money, and energy. I need to go out to think about what kind of cards to buy, purchase stamps, and then send them out. Another difficult thing for me is writing words by hand because of my bad handwriting. It is very painful. This is one of the reasons I don’t like handwriting cards. I personally prefer text messages and email. But I now know that it is worth a great deal sending cards by mail.
From this thinking process, I found that Caring requires time, money, and energy. In other words, we need to use our time, energy, and finances to care for people. If I receive a service from someone, it is necessary to express my gratitude.
Another impressive practice in America is Tipping. There are no tips in Korea and Singapore. It would have been quite costly to pay tips when we had restaurant meals there. Although it depends on me, there is a general rule of 15% for paying tips. I learned lately that restaurant servers in the U.S. earn more money from tips than from their hourly rate.
Last year I had several meals with David Abbott at a Japanese restaurant. I learned that whenever he ordered food at the restaurant, he asked the name of the server and he prayed for the server bringing our meals. From David, I learned a good example of caring, what caring is, what the cost of caring is, and how to care for people in the small moments of our lives.
One of the blessings in America is that I learned by heart what caring is, how to care for people by heart, and what caring costs. There are a number of scriptures that teach and show us what true caring is.
The first one I would like to share with you is Matthew 22:37-40.
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Do you love God? Jesus said, 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. Note the greatest commandment is completed with the second one, which is “love your neighbor as yourself.”
So the greatest commandment has two portions: First is love God wholeheartedly, and second is love your neighbor as yourself. The greatest commandment has two dimensions: a vertical dimension and a horizontal dimension. These two dimensions must be balanced to make a cross. This is the love of the cross.
Jesus died on the cross showing us that he loved wholeheartedly both God and us as himself so that we now are the children of God. As God’s children we show that love to the Lord our God and to our neighbors.
What do you do when you love? What do you do when you care? You give your time, energy, and money to express your love to your loved one.
Do you love God? To love God, Jesus said, is to love your neighbor. Do you remember the conversation between Jesus and Peter? Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, I love you” Jesus said, “feed my sheep”
How do we feed the sheep in our life? We have to drive to Market Basket, buy some food, cook it and share it with our neighbors. This is the cost of caring. We must use our time, energy, and money.
Caring is an output process of the organic church. Like the example of feeding our friends, we need to use resources we have to care for the people. When we output something we have for the sake of others, what happens? The people receiving our caring will be happy. What happens to us? We become more spiritually healthy and live more like Jesus.
The concept of caring for the people we love originally came from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 called Shema, which means “listen.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV) 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and love your children by impressing, talking, tying and binding symbols, and writing the words often so they can see and remember. If you love God, love your children and neighbor by using something you have for them, This is the balanced, vertical and horizontal love of the cross that Jesus showed us on the cross.
Loving our neighbors is something I think this Church is very good at. We help with the Food Pantry, serve meals at the Friendly Kitchen and the Senior Center, support Evon’s Hope and much more. During this time of Covid our Outreach Committee provided dessert for the meal that Dimitris supplied for the seniors and then desserts for members of the congregation who are home and many who are alone.
The second scripture I would like to share with you is 1 Corinthians 12:26-27.
This scripture describes the feeling you experience when you do care for someone and when we live truly as the parts of the body of Christ as one church.
1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (NIV)
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Romans 12:15 (NIV)
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
One of the traits of people who care for others is compassion. People who care for others rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Do you sometimes rejoice and mourn with others? This is empathy. It is a very important characteristic that we must have in our hearts and our lives.
The third scripture I would like to share with you is Acts 2:44-47.
Acts 2:44-47 (NIV)
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
This is the model church in the time right after Jesus’ ascension. They shared their property and possessions with the people who needed it, continued to meet together in the temple courts and shared meals together in their homes, and praised God and enjoyed the fellowship with all the people.
What is it that led the people to share their possessions with others? The people saw the NEEDs of the people, as needs of their own. They thought of others as their family so that they broke their bread, shared it and ate together.
This is a good model of church as a caring community.
Why do we need to care for our neighbors?
I would like to introduce four reasons we need to care for others.
First, God shared His only begotten Son with us for our sins and to save us from our death.
Second, Jesus showed us how He cared for the people around Him and followed Him. We as followers of Jesus should follow the life Jesus walked before us.
Third, as we serve others more, we live more like Jesus. Jesus came on earth not to be served but to serve others, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28 (NIV)
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Lastly, from an organic perspective, we are being transformed by caring for others as a direct outcome of this output process. The transformation of our lives takes place when we output what we have learned, making us spiritually healthier and more mature as a result of this output process in our lives.
Our world right now is filled with anxiety and despair. People are out of work and don’t know if they can pay the rent or feed their children. Teachers, children and parents are unsure about what the start of school will look like. Many are disappointed that their plans have been changed by all of this. The example of Jesus is more important now than ever before. Sometimes we don’t know where to begin to help. To be honest with you, I have learned a lot about caring from all of you. Your example of what true caring is and how to care for the people is evident by the way you care for our family and our church and our community. It has opened my heart more so thank you for all your care. I hope and pray that our church keep caring for the people as Jesus did for us. Let us be the example of Jesus in a world that is hurting.
Let Us Pray
Father, we thank you for giving Jesus Christ as the example in our lives. Thank you for saving us from our sin and death through the life of Jesus Christ. Help and guide us to care for the needs of the people around us as Jesus cared for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Questions for discussion:
The Pastor said, “The greatest commandment is completed by the second one.” How do you interpret that? Which is more important?
Can you name specific ways in which you show God your love?
How balanced would you say your cross beams of vertical and horizontal love are today?
How would characterize empathy? Does empathy, however you personally define it come easily to you?
How did the new church described in the book of Acts demonstrate the four elements of caring for others as outlined by the sermon?