Who Is My Neighbor
by: Caleb Benson
Luke 10:25-29 says, “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?”
We are living in a society when most people have no idea who their neighbors really are. People will gather what information they know about their neighbors, based on what they see them do. We have become a generation that gets more information from a friend of a friend on Facebook, then we will get from the person living next to us. Jesus went on to describe to this lawyer that anyone we come in contact with is our neighbor. With that being said, who is your neighbor? Who is it that you come in contact with who needs to know about Jesus? Who are you helping to see the love of Jesus Christ? In Mark 2:1-12 the Bible tells us how four men brought one man to see Jesus, and everyone there walked away different. So, how can we bring people to see the Saviour just like these men did? I want to point out several basic elements that must be in place in order to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The very first element which must be in place if anyone will be changed by the power of Jesus Christ is,
1. The Presence of Christ
Mark 2:1 tells us that “He, (Jesus) was in the house.” We know that there is no place where Jesus is not there, because He is God, and He is Omnipresent. This means that there is no place that we are where He is not. He is everywhere at the same time, but do we live in the reality of His presence? Do we realize that He watches every television program we watch, He reads every book we read, He listens to every bit of music to which we listen? He sees every deed, thought, word and even our hearts. So often we will tell others, “God is with you right now,” but then we turn around and do things that God would be very unhappy about. So we say, “God is everywhere all at the same time,” but do we live it? How many things would you change in the way you live, if you knew God was walking beside you tomorrow? We should be constantly aware that God is with us every hour of every day. It doesn’t stop with just knowing He is present. We need to recognize that Jesus is there. Also, in verse 1 the Bible tells us, “…and it was noised that He was in the house…” It is not just that He was there, people knew who He was and told everyone where He was. Does anyone know that Jesus lives in your house? If you invited a stranger into your home, would they know that Jesus was part of your life? Give Him the recognition He deserves. Jesus paid the price for your sins, and you won’t tell anyone He lives inside of you? Everyone should be able to see that Christ is not just a knickknack, but that you serve Him. Guess what happens when you live like Christ is with you all the time, and when you let it be known that He is your life, people will be drawn to Him. In verse 2 the Bible says, “…many were gathered together…” It is the presence of Jesus that makes any place attractive or appealing. John 12:32 says, “And I, (Jesus) if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me…” There were many bushes in the desert, but Moses was drawn to one bush, the bush that burned with the fire of God. There are many wells in Israel we could go visit, but the one most tourists visit is Jacob’s well, it was there that Jesus gave living water to a wicked woman. There are many graves you could visit in the cemetery in Bethany, but people usually go to see the one where Jesus awoke Lazarus from the dead. When Christ is present in our lives, and we exalt Him, people will come, not because of us, but because of Christ. In order to bring people to Jesus Christ, we must have Him present.
2. The Priority of Christ
As we look at Mark 2:5, you will notice that although the man brought to Jesus was paralyzed, the first response of our Saviour was not to heal his disease, but instead it was to cleanse his sin. Jesus always emphasizes the spiritual need of a person before addressing their physical condition. There are many today teaching that we must minister to the physical side of man before trying to minister to his spirit. This is definitely not the way Jesus did it. He is to be our example, and there are many times in Scripture where He met a physical need, but it is always followed by a spiritual need being met. We need to make His number one priority, our number one priority, and that is, “to seek and to save that which was lost.” He also emphasized the individual over the entire multitude. He took His attention from teaching to a large crowd to minister to one man. We often dream of the larger crowds and wonder how can we get more people in, but what if we focused on just reaching one at a time? The Spirit of God sent Philip away from a great revival in Samaria to reach one man on the road to Gaza. Jesus also tells of a shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep in the fold to seek that one which was separated from the flock. Jesus was focused on meeting spiritual needs of individuals who are lost. His priority has always been to reach the lost. In the story of the Prodigal Son, Christ makes it very clear that the emphasis is on the lost son who returns home, more than the one who remained faithful.
In order to bring people to Jesus we have seen that we need Him to be present, and we must have the same priority as He had, but we must also have His power.
3. The Power of Christ
One of the main elements of people coming to know Jesus as their Saviour is the almighty power of God. Without His power, man will not be convicted, if there is no conviction of sin, there is no genuine repentance, and salvation does not come without repentance. Just as Jesus had the power to forgive sins, and heal this man of the palsy, He also has the power to meet every need of every person in the world. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Because Jesus has all power, He has made it available to us, but it is only accessible by faith. In Mark 2:5 the Bible says, “…when He saw their faith…” It was only when they had faith in the power of Jesus to heal their friend that the power of Jesus accessed and something happened. The faith of the man who was sick accessed cleansing power when he believed by faith that Jesus was the Son of God. We can see here and in many other places in the Bible that the power of God is only accessed by faith. When Jesus healed the physical condition of this man, it proved that He had already forgiven the sins of the man. It proved to everyone that He had all power to forgive sins and heal any disease, but the power was only accessed by faith. D.L. Moody was once challenged to a debate with an atheist. He accepted the challenge with only one limitation. He said, “I want you to bring me every person you can whose life has been changed by the power of atheism. I want you to bring me those who were drunkards until they became atheists and are now sober, those whose lives were broken but have been made whole by believing in atheism, those who have become better husbands and fathers since having turned to atheism.” Obviously they cannot bring any such person, because this power only comes through Jesus Christ. We must access His power through stepping out by faith.
Once we have the presence, priority, and power of Christ, then we must determine to partner with God to do our very best to reach people with the Gospel.
4. The Partners of Jesus
1 Corinthians 3:9 the Bible tells us, “For we are labourers together with God…”
The four that carried this one man to Jesus were very concerned about his condition, and about getting him to Jesus. I wonder if we have anything that even comes close to the same concern for the lost. Lost people all around us dash madly toward Hell and we never shed a tear, we never offer a prayer for their souls, we never pass out a tract and we never try to win them to Christ. Can we say that we are really concerned about the lost? If we are truly concerned about the lost, then we must be convinced that Jesus changes lives. The four men who carried the palsied man to Christ were absolutely convinced that Jesus would do something. If they weren’t convinced that Christ would change his life, they would not have gone through the trouble to get on the roof and tear it up in order to get him in the house to see Jesus. Are we absolutely convinced that if we bring people to Jesus that He will change their life? We need to be totally committed to bringing people to Christ just as these men were committed to bringing this man to Jesus. If we are totally committed, then no obstacle will stand in our way of bringing people to the Saviour. What does it take to keep you from witnessing to someone?
Lt. DeSilva had served on many difficult missions during his years in the French Foreign Legion, but none was so difficult or heart-wrenching as the time he spent in Goma, Zaire, working in a camp for Rwandan refugees. The refugees were dying at such a rate that the mission of the Legionnaires had changed to public health. A 15-ton bulldozer dug graves and shoved masses of dead bodies into the grave before their sickness could infect the living. The stench was so bad that the men wore face masks doused with after-shave to help cut the smell, but nothing could cut the sorrow they saw.
One day, as Lt. DeSilva oversaw this gruesome task, he noticed in the mass of tangled corpses a hand waving. He shouted orders to the bulldozer to stop and picked his way through the dead bodies and found a little boy who was still alive. The little boy was taken to a clinic, and though his physical health improved, his mental health did not. He never spoke a word to anyone.
Eventually, Lt. DeSilva decided to give the young man a ride in his jeep. Maybe it was the fresh air, or the special attention. Maybe it was something else, but the boy became very animated. He began to talk. He told of seeing his mother, father, sisters and brothers all die.
Lt. DeSilva developed a strong attachment to the young man and eventually decided with the agreement of his wife that they would adopt him. DeSilva said, “As our son, he will have all the privileges of our other sons.”
One day Jesus saw my hand reaching in desperation, and through the tangled mass of decaying humanity, He brought to me the good news of His salvation. He rescued me from death, forgave my sin, made me His son, and said that as His child, I have all the same privileges as His other children. Someone’s hand is waving at you today. Someone’s hand is waving at me. Let’s go bring our neighbors to Christ!
Missionary to Cameroon