Loving outward is a vital part of our church’s vision. We will all agree that loving outward is at the heart cry of the Gospel message. All throughout Scripture is the command to love your neighbor as yourself, and Jesus gave high priority to this in the Gospels. In fact, loving outward is mentioned as second in importance only to loving God (upward). Though we know the command is to love outward, unfortunately, we oftentimes struggle in understanding the full meaning of this command.
Take a moment to read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Immediately before this passage, a lawyer recited the great commands to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and to love your neighbor as yourself. Seeking to justify his current lifestyle, the lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ responded with the well-known parable. From it, we can learn (1) who our neighbor is, and (2) how we are to love them as our self…How to Love Outward!
1) Who is our neighbor? In the parable, we find our neighbor is not the type of people who walk, talk, and act like us. The man’s fellow believers were not his neighbors. In fact, those people actually passed by the desperate individual. The man in despair found his true neighbor to be the Good Samaritan, someone who was a social outcast and a religious opposite… His neighbor was somebody he would ordinarily have overlooked because of their differences.
2) How do we love our neighbor as our self? We observed the Good Samaritan loving the Jewish man sacrificially, selflessly, and continually, even with no promise of a return. He made sure the Jewish man knew he was cared for and loved. He met the man’s immediate physical needs by caring for his wounds, he made provisions by securing the man’s safety and care at the inn, and he made a sacrifice by paying for the man’s debts. Today, we have many opportunities to give away the same type of sacrificial and selfless love by bringing comfort to others, meeting physical needs, showing commitment and care, and giving away the love of Christ found in us!
Our church is doing a fantastic job of loving outward this week through Vacation Bible School, by sacrificing time, efforts, and work schedules to extend the Gospel to young people and families. We have served teachers, schools, businesses, and others in our community on a weekly basis. We have even loved outward in Brazil and soon to be the Dominican Republic. We are thankful for these acts, and long to see the love continue.
As we close, here are a few practical suggestions on how you can be the Good Samaritan and share the Gospel as you love outward in your daily life. Share with others what you already may be doing and let’s love outward together!
- Invite unsaved neighbors, friends, and coworkers over for a meal
- Provide assistance to someone in need
- Adopt a local youth sports team to cheer on for the night
- Begin encouraging conversations with people at grocery stores and shopping malls
- Pass out drinks and snacks at a park or recreation area
- Invite someone else to share his or her story, and simply listen
- Take your family to the park and play with children on the playground.
In essence, loving outward is simply taking whatever you may have available in the moment to meet another’s need, and giving it away for the glory of God. Pray God would give you eyes today to see where Jesus is at work, and meet Him there ready to love outward!
Interim Youth Pastor