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Let’s Love Our Neighbors

I pray that you had a great weekend. This past week has been quite eventful for Americans. Now, we know who the new president-elect is. I only hope that, regardless of the nominee for whom you may have voted, we gather ourselves in prayer for President-elect Donald Trump just as I hope we pray for President Barack Obama and other leaders around the world. Scripture teaches us to pray for those in authority.

Furthermore, the Church must advocate for both justice and mercy. Biblical justice and mercy are relational terms that speak to what it means to care and advocate for others in need.

We know that there is a God of justice and mercy. We, the Church, must advocate for both justice and mercy.

This past weekend, I was both honored and privileged to preach in Suffolk, Virginia, for the 130th anniversary of the historic Metropolitan Baptist Church. My sermon was taken from Luke 10:25–37, where Jesus shares the well-known and very interesting Good Samaritan story.

The sermon focused on three key points:

1. What it means to be in a place of the in-between. Between Jerusalem and Jericho is historically a dangerous place. In the story, this location represents uncertainty, frustration, as well as threats of danger and failure. In Jesus’ story, being on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho represents being in-between where you came from and where you are going.

We never know what will happen in the place of the in-between; but we know that there is a God of justice and mercy who is God not only of where we were and where we are going but also God of the in-between.

2. What it means to take risks. The priest and the Levite saw a man in need and failed to help him. To help the man was risky. What would people say if they knew the priest and the Levite were helping a cast-a-way who was half dead along the road? Would they lose their jobs at the Temple?

We must take a risk to help someone in need. Taking a risk is not a reckless move but rather relentless move to do what is right in spite of what might happen to us!

3. What it means to have mercy. Mercy is not merely acknowledging that there is a problem or showing pity on problems. Mercy is active. Mercy does something about the problem.

Jesus credits the Samaritan for his willingness to have mercy on a man in need. Yet, the Samaritan’s mercy was not mere pity. His mercy went beyond a hand out, a kind word, and good wishes. The Samaritan’s mercy extended to the man a hand up.

Being more concerned about the damaged human being, the Samaritan man offered relationship with a broken man, whom he did not know!

Share Christ’s love and may our neighbors see Jesus as a result of our merciful witness!

This week, may we extend mercy to people who we do not know. May we be challenged to be in relationship with “the other” regardless of any criteria other than because they are human beings in need of other human beings.

People need to know that God’s people are advocates of justice and mercy. We are people who love God as well as “other” people.

Let’s be a neighbor (as Jesus defines the neighbor) to “the other;” the “other” is the one who is not like you – whatever “not like you” means to you.

Share Christ’s love and may our neighbors see Jesus as a result of our merciful witness!

Because of Jesus,

Dr. Antipas

Monday, November 14, 2016

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Category: Fall 2016, Living the Faith

About the Author: Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), was appointed as the founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center in Norfolk, Virginia in the Spring of 2017. He is the Criminal Justice System Director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), president of the Global Institute for Empowerment & Leadership Development, known as GIELD, and he serves as the Director of TheUrbanCircle.Net, a relational network of urban ministries and churches. He has additional experience as an educator, academic lecturer, itinerant preacher, pastor, youth director, motivational speaker, and Christian musician. He is the author of Holy Spirit, Holy Living: A Practical Theology of Holiness for Twenty-first Century Churches (Wipf & Stock, 2013) and Unstoppable Success: 7 Ways to Flourish in Your Boundless Potential (High Bridge Books, 2014). Faculty page AntipasHarris.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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