6 Stumbling Blocks to Being a Neighbor
As I wrestled with the Parable of the good Samaritan in preparation for a recent sermon, I started to realize, you and I have a problem.
There are parts of us, old, instinctual parts that are beautifully designed, but actively work against us in our sanctification process (renewing of our minds) as it pertains to being the Neighbor Jesus tells the Jewish lawyer to be.
Read through these and go on a little journey of self discovery. Perhaps none of this will be new for you, perhaps you’re about to experience full on revelation.
These are just notes, I hope they’ll be helpful
6 Stumbling blocks to being a Neighbor
(intentional and unintentional) – I find this a helpful distinction
1. Self-preservation– (unintentional)
"If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?"
It’s possible in this story that the Priest and the Levite would have perceived legitimate reason to step past the man from the perspective of self-preservation only. The man could have been faking, or the robbers could still have been there waiting.
This self-preservation is an old part of our brains, a natural instinct. It’s not bad certainly, but in modern society and as it pertains to the needs of those around us it’s not always helpful.
2. Dualistic Thinking– (unintentional but participatory)
“Us/Them, Either/Or, With/Against, Good/Bad”
We see this in traffic
We see this in sports
We see this in international relations
We see this in personal relationships
We see this in our reaction to people who eat differently, process things differently, have different world views
Dualism leads to a Judging mentality or judging mindset
We in the natural in our unrenewed minds can tend towards judgmental (usually out of fear/dualistic thinking)
The antidote to Dualism: In the Christ, all are one:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all childrenof God through faith, 27 for all of youwho were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The motivation for even helping in the first place can’t come from discipline or devotion, or even guilt. It generates from an understanding of the oneness of all things in Christ.
Paraphrase: All things are yours whether your teachers, or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
21 So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Peter,[f] or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.(NLT)
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together(NIV)
How many things are held together in Christ?
All of them.
This includes those who you perceive as enemies. This includes atheists. This includes your in-laws and weird cousins. And certainly includes your neighbors.
15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in himand finds its purposein him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. (MSG)
Unity and the reconciliation of all things (not just people) is one of the many reasons Christ became the son of man on this planet.
3. We lack in compassion: (unintentional)
“When he saw the man he had compassion”
Latin – compati (to suffer with)
warmth, love, sympathy, feeling, fellow feeling, empathy, understanding, care, concern, tenderness, gentleness
Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related.
research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.
It has to come naturally out of who we are and what we have.
Side note: Compassion is a bandwidth issue. It’s hard to be compassionate when you’re exhausted.
Fruit of the Spirit is inevitable in the believer. Notice it doesn’t say ‘fruit(s)’. Compassion is a byproduct of a few of these states of being. You having HS inside you have all of these as part of the fruit. Jesus was firstborn among many and as he is so are we in this world and we have the mind of Christ, fruit is just waiting to naturally flow out of you. Get out of the way.
Galatians 5:22-23 English Standard Version (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
4. We don’t see: (unintentional)There are some things we just don’t see anymore. Here the Priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan at least all saw the situation, they just did something different with the information.
But I think for us today it’s easy to not even see it in the first place. It’s ‘easier’ certainly.
Telling my kids to look for something is a joke. Me looking for something is more of a joke
5. We operate out of a scarcity mindset (unintentional)
If you have $20 in your pocket, and that’s all you have to spend for the next few days, and someone asks you for $5 dollars. That leaves you with only $15. (I realize this is higher math for some of us). How do you feel?
If you have $50k in hand, and someone asks you for $5 dollars, what does that feel like? It’s almost a joy to share what you have at that point. It feels like a no brainer – of course!
6. We Consciously and Unconsiously Keep everyone at some level of distance (intentionalish)
This is one of my biggest ones and it’s tricky because to some degree or another this one encompasses all the other ones.
Let’s go back quick and look at these again through this emotional filter:
Self-preservation– (we’ve been wounded emotionally)
Dualistic Thinking– (no one else feels the way I feel, they can’t understand, and they’ve proven they don’t care to)
We don’t See– Emotional IQ and self-awareness hasn’t been a high value in our culture
We Operate Out of A Scarcity Mindset– Emotions cost us, some of us more than others
operating out of emotional scarcity,
The importance of reflection
The importance of counselling
The importance of pursuing emotional health
Finding the few