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2012-07-08 How to live a Christian life

Time: 2012-07-25 Click:

By Pastor Lin
08 Jul. 2012 Sunday

 

 

 

 

Media Resources:

Sermon: How to live a Christian life video   doc
Worship song: I Just Want You 你是唯一 video audio lyric
Worship song: Jesus Thank You video audio lyric
Worship song: The Heart Of Worship video audio lyric
Worship song: Worthy Is The Lamb video audio lyric

 

 
 

 

Worship song: I Just Want You 你是唯一

Verse 1 More than a nice melody
More than the sweetest of words
This is the love I have found
And in this love I am found
Chorus I just want You Jesus
I just want You my Lord
I just want You Jesus
I just want You
Verse 1 CN 胜过最美好旋律 shèngguò zuìMěihǎo xuánlǜ
胜过甜美的言語 shèngguò tiánměi de yányǔ
我找到生命至宝 Wǒ zhǎodào shēngmìng zhì bǎo
因你愛已找到我 yīn Ní aìyǐ zhǎodào Wǒ
Chorus CN 你是唯一 耶穌 Ní shì wéiyī Yēsū
你是唯一 我主 Ní shì wéiyī Wǒ zhǔ
你是唯一 耶穌 Ní shì wéiyī Yēsū
我需要你 Wǒ xūyào Ní
Verse 2 Never could I comprehend
The love You so freely give
Never could I be worthy
But Your love covers all of my sin
Verse 2 CN 我永远无法明白 Wǒ yǒng yuǎn wúfǎ míngbai
你赐下下无比大爱 Ní Cìxià búbǐ Dà ài
无条件舍下生命 Wú tiáojiàn she xià shēngmìng
你爱洗净我一切的罪 Ní Aìxǐ jìng Wǒ yīqiè de zuì
Bridge There is no greater love than Yours
Nothing else could ever compare
And even if I search all the world
I will never find a love like Yours
Bridge CN 你的爱超越世上所有 Ní de ài chāoyuè shìshàng suǒyǒu
沒有人能够与你相比 Méiyǒurén néng gòu yǔ Ní Xiāngbǐ
我愿付出一生来寻求 Wǒ yuàn fùchū yīshēng lái xúnqiú
只愿永远沉浸你爱里 Zhǐyuàn yǒngyuǎn chénjìn Ní àili

 

Worship song:Jesus Thank You

Verse 1 The mystery of the cross
I cannot comprehend The agonies of Calvary
You, the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me
Chorus Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You!
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You!
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You!
Verse 2 By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end 
Bridge Lover of my soul,
I want to live for You

  
 

Worship song: Heart of Worship

Verse 1 When the music fades,
And all is stripped away
And I simply come longing
just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart
  I'll bring You more than a song For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart
Verse 2 King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I'm weak and poor
All I have is Yours every single breath
Verse 3 By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin & death
And rise triumphant from the grave
Chorus I'm coming back to the heart of worship
and it's all about You
It's all about You,
Jesus I'm sorry, Lord,
for the things I've made it
And it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus

 

Presider Larry Liu:

Please join me in a short prayer:

Lord Jesus, you are the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. You are faithful God. You are the one we praise and we want to give you thanks, praise and glory. Thank you for leading this church and blessing us; thank you for bringing people to this church, getting to know you and serve you here. Lord, we want to ask you to continue to lead this church; use us to bless others and give us wisdom and your vision to serve you and this community; to be a blessing in this city and this world. Lord, I want to ask you to help us reach more people and bring them to know you Lord. I want to ask you to bless today’s speaker, Reverend Lin. Give her words to say and bless the massage and help her bring the power from you Lord; Lord I want to ask you to give us deeper understanding to your words and help us see your words as true bread of life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

 

Scripture Reading: Luke 10:25-37
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ b; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan
, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins d and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

 

 

Sermon:

 

  
 

Thank you very much. It is my real honor to be here this morning. And thank you very much for inviting me to worship with you here.

 

This is in fact my second time to worship at this church. And my first time worshipping here was 3 years ago. At that time when I came into this church, I was first impressed by the architectural design of this church. It is a really nice and beautiful church. And I was told that your senior pastor Reverend Wu made good contributions to the setting of this church. But what impressed me all the more was the atmosphere of the worship, was the band, the music, the young people and the hospitality before, during and after the service. I really experienced the vitality of the church, the moving of the Holy Spirit in the midst and your love to Jesus Christ. My newly graduated student who now works here told me from time to time that this is a growing congregation. And today, I am very happy to see these with my own eyes. A growing congregation or a growing church means that there are always new people wanting to become Christians joining us here on Sunday. This is a real blessing from God to our congregation. We praise God for the amazing work of the Holy Spirit.

 

For us, in fact, to become Christians may not be a too difficult thing. As the Bible says “one believes with the heart and so it is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved”. This is written in Romans 10:10. It means if you are willing to believe God in your heart and confess in front of people that you are a Christian, then you become a Christian.The more difficult and always challenging question is, after we become Christians, how to live a Christian life? I think most of the teaching of the Christian church  throughout the history have been directed to this question: how do we live a Christian life?

 

The  text from the gospel of Luke, Chapter 10, verses 25 to 37,  gives us a few examples of how to live a Christian life. And this is what I'm going to share with you this morning. How to live a Christian life?

 

I believe that most of you are very familiar with the passage we just read. In this gospel reading, Jesus teaches the parable of the good Samaritan. The parable is not very long, it only contains 13 verses, but it carries very rich and profound meaning. We can not explore it fully during a single sermon. I will only pick 3 questions from this passage for us to reflect together upon the issue of how to live a Christian life.

 

These questions are:

1. What do you read there? Or how do you read it?

2. Who is my neighbor?

These 2 questions in fact are quoted from the text. And the third question is:

3. How shall we be a neighbor?

 

 

 

When the lawyer in Luke’s story was to test Jesus, asking him what he had to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied by asking him two questions. What is written in the law? What do you read there?

 

The lawyer as a Jewish legal expert certainly knew the Jewish law very well. A good lawyer is supposed to know all the details of the law. The lawyer answered Jesus by citing Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 in the Old Testament. These are the two commandments to love God with one's heart, soul and strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, which represent the heart of the Jewish law. The lawyer's answer was complemented by Jesus. But if we read the Bible carefully, we can tell that the Jewish lawyer only answered Jesus' first question and left out the second question about what do you read there.

 

What does the second question mean? What do you read there? It means how to interpret and live up to the text which was first read. The lawyer knew very well what was written in the law, but he had trouble interpreting it and living up to the law.

 

A well-known Japanese theologian, Kosuke Koyama (of Union Theological Seminary, New York), wrote that the question of "what do you read there" has great significance in interpreting the Bible and even in doing the theology. Koyama stated that Jesus' question leads us towards relationship and engagement in the world around us. He argued that the Bible cannot be read in isolation from what has happened in the world and what is happening in the world. The more engaged we are in our confusing human history and occurring context, the more powerful the Bible will speak to us. In other words, what is written in the Bible is important to us, but what is more important is how we read the Bible in relation to the world in which we live and in relation to all of God's people. The question of "what do you read there" requires a reading of the Bible which is inclusive of the outsiders of our community and responding to the needs of all people in our real world. The Bible intends to bring us to the presence of the compassionate forgiving God in Jesus Christ so that our life may be transformed.

 

The Jewish lawyer was not able to do such a reading so his life was not transformed. And therefore he had a further question to ask Jesus. The parable of the good Samaritan was Jesus' response to his further question of who is my neighbor. It is highly likely that the lawyer asked the question because he wanted to set a clear limit on who are the ones to be loved as he loved himself. He wanted to know who needed to be included in the category of neighbor and how far his responsibility extended.

 

Jesus did not answer his question straightforwardly. Instead, Jesus told him the parable and then asked him which of these three (the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan) do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers. The lawyer answered the one who showed him mercy. Some biblical scholars persisted that people in Luke's church might have defined the neighbor as one's friend or a member of the community. Jesus, however, by making the moral hero a person outside the community, expanded the general definition of the neighbor. The parable ignores social boundaries and all reasonable thoughts of calculations that people make. Moreover, the parable not only helps people transform their understanding of whom they should love as they love themselves, but also provides them a model of a neighbor.

 

The neighbor is not defined by geographical location, social location or even religious belief. The good Samaritan did not live very close to the Jews. Instead, they are almost separated from the Jews. The Samaritan’s social status was very low, and they did not even worship the same God as the Israel worshiped. The neighbor in Luke's gospel as defined is someone who has compassion and mercy. Someone went home when feels empathy and identifies as another human being. So we can tell that Jesus uses a lengthy parable to answer a comparatively short question: who is my neighbor?

 

  

 

At least it has two levels of significance. One is to tell us whom we shall love as we love ourselves. The second level of significance is to invite us to become the neighbor of others. It is for us to enter a relationship of neighboring. The word neighbor implies a kind of relationship. No one can simply have a neighbor; one must also be a neighbor. When I have a neighbor, for instance, he or she is my neighbor and meanwhile I am his or her neighbor, right?

 

Neighboring is a two-way street. This may lead us to our third question. How shall we be the neighbor?

 

At the end of this parable, Jesus asked the lawyer to go and do likewise. The phrase “go and do likewise” sheds light on the question. How shall we be the neighbor? Let us just pay attention to the word, “likewise”, what does it mean? Jesus asks us to do likewise. Jesus did not ask to do exactly what the good Samaritan did or to do whatever we want to do.

 

As some biblical scholars note the adverb “likewise” invites us to use our imagination creatively to discover a new way of acting that is faithful to the story of a good Samaritan. If we allow our imagination to enter deeply into the particular story and envision possibilities in our own context, how might we then act as neighbors? Let us try, just try to imagine a few possibilities. As I just mentioned, to be a neighbor is to be someone who has compassion and acts with love and care towards one’s neighbor. The neighbor who needs our help is not limited to the person who lives next door, or to an acquaintance, or even to a fellow community member.

 

As some biblical scholar has pointed out, a neighbor in the gospel has a concrete description which includes tax collectors, prostitute, victim of robbery, lector, the handicraft, children having been looked down upon… The love for neighbor has also been described concretely, which is embodied in the table of fellowship, emergency aid released from that and healing. The neighbor as some biblical scholar suggested, can be extended as the next person we meet. As the next person we meet is our neighbor, so who will be the next person we meet after this service? On our way home, on our way to school, to work everyday or after we come back from a party. It could be anybody. It could be somebody who needs our help. It could be a beggar, a wounded person, a handicapped child, or migrant workers gathering together wanting to get his or her salary back. What should we do? How should we help them and solve their problem and meet their needs? Are we going to try to meet some of their immediate needs as the good Samaritan did? For the wounded person who fell into the hands of the robbers?

 

I am sure that most of us would say we would like to, we would like to but… The word “but” can imply a lot of things. It can imply that we do not have enough compassion as the good Samaritan had. It can also imply that we have the same compassion, but we are not able to make the same accomplishment because of our own inadequacy or the external situation.

 

In one of my ethics classes at one seminary, one student said that he could not be the good Samaritan. He said that first of all, he was not courageous enough to be the good Samaritan because he was afraid that the wounded person and his family might accuse him as the accident maker but not the helper. This might sound familiar to us because we read it from the media or the reports from time to time. My daughter is thirteen years old and she was very eager to get some small money on the bus to the beggars. But after one day, she realized that she was cheated and then she became hesitant to give her money away. And my student also continued to say that he was also afraid that the robbers might come back to rob him after they knew that he was wealthy. I do not think my student’s concern as excuses. In fact, this student has much compassion to others. He is one of our best students. I appreciate his honesty, but I still ask him, what can you do then? You just share with us what you are not able to do, but what can you do? Or you would be just like the priest running away? The answer is of course not, but what shall we do?

 

How should we be the neighbor? Here, I think the phrase “go and do likewise” can play big role in our answers. As in this parable, a traveler being robbed on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho was a daily occurrence in Jesus’ time and even until much later. It was a road of narrow rocky, passage ways and of solemn turnings, making it a happy haunting ground for robbers. A friend of mine who has visited this area several years ago told me that even today, the path from Jerusalem to Jericho is quite geographically dangerous and robbery takes place from time to time. Now is there any way to prevent people from being robbed on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho? Is there any way to change the status to offer protection for travelers on this road? Or is there any way to let the robbers repent and change their job?

 

 

 

In our society, we do need a lot of good Samaritans and we not only need them to help those wounded people, but also need them more to help people from being wounded. We should all try to be the good Samaritans. We not only need to help the weak and the needy, but providing them food, clothes, money or other material supplies; we also need to try to help them improve their situation through education, training and spiritual comfort. The Christian churches in history have done much along this line and have transformed many people’s lives.

 

Chinese Christians nowadays are also encouraged to engage in social service and to do good deeds for the society. We can do the same thing as previous generations did, but we will do it more creatively and relevantly to our time because we need to follow the teaching of Jesus, “go and do likewise”. To be able to do so, we need transformation. The story of the good Samaritan stands as a challenge towards transformation of our daily life and business, which lies in the heart of the practice of the discipleship. The transformation of our life is a necessary step for us to live a Christian life. In the process of transformation, our own perspective has to be changed; our prejudice against those people we don’t like has to be overcome; our compassion and love have to be extended and become more inclusive and our spiritual wisdom will grow to become better disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

My hope is that our reflection this morning on the parable of the good Samaritan can be somehow helpful for us to live a Christian life; by reading this story, we can conclude that to live a Christian life, we need to read the Bible with the engagement towards what is happening in our world; we need to transform ourselves by being a well of our neighbor and more importantly, we need to enter a neighborhood relationship. We need to become the neighbor with compassion and to try to help what people need in new and different ways. In a word, we need to respond to Jesus’ command “go and do likewise” creatively and faithfully as we live up to the commandment of loving God with all our heart and soul, and with all our strength and mind, and loving our neighbors as loving ourselves. Amen!

 

 

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