As we look at the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, JP reminds us that followers of Christ have been equipped with all we need to render help to others. We just need to take the next step of action to bring hope and healing to neighbors in our city.
The Unstoppable Force of the Gospel
Taking Light to the World
Take A Step: Saving Our City
Your Purpose, Your Place, Your People
Good morning, Plano. Good morning, Fort Worth. Great to be with you guys. Last week, my family and I went up to Plano to visit this human maze thing. Have you guys seen those mazes they put rats in? This was one for humans. It was called IKEA. So we were up there, and we were coming back from IKEA and driving down the toll road with my son Weston who is 2-1/2, my little girls in the back, and Monica, my wife.
We passed this giant monster truck on the side of the road. We're on the toll road. This is in a parking lot. They're like, "You've got to go back. Dad, you've got to go back. Weston wants to see the truck." So we exited off, which took us on about a 15-minute detour. We eventually made it back into the parking lot, and we get out and are looking at the truck. It was a big truck. I mean, this is Texas. It was a big truck. My little man Weston was just staring at it for five minutes. I was like, "Are you okay?"
We get back in the car and load them back up, and we're driving home. The day goes by, and I'm watching the news. The "icepocalypse" hits. I know you guys are coming out of hibernation, cabin fever. Half of our church body is still like, "The roads are still frozen," but you're here. So I'm watching the highway cam. Have you guys seen this? This was entertainment for hours, because we don't know how to handle this stuff in Dallas.
These cars are coming around curves (I'm sorry if this is you, but we laughed at you), and they just spun out. It's like, "Slow down, buddy." We're just watching the news, highway cam. The next one goes by and slides, and the next guy comes and slides. We're praying everyone is okay…and laughing. Here's what I was thinking as I'm sitting there, because these people are stuck in the ice now. I was like, "If only I had that truck. If I had that monster truck, I could just go around the city and pull people out of ditches and ice and make sure they're okay."
Now here's what's really silly about that thought. I have a truck, and it's a big one. It's not that big, but I have a truck. Because it's Texas. Everybody has a truck. We take Z71 Suburbans and Hummers to drop our kids off at soccer. That's just how we roll. We're overprepared for life. Just like me, just as I'm watching and I'm like, "Man, if only I had that big monster truck," we don't realize we have everything we need to render aid. We have it. It's already on us.
Everything we need to move toward that which is hurting or that which is in trouble… We already are prepared for it, but we sit there and think, "Well, if only I had… If only I was better prepared. If only I knew how to…" We don't realize that the Spirit of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who indwells the believer, who walks with the believer, has given us everything we need. Is that not the truth?
But there is actually one more thing we need, and it's to take a step. It's to move toward the person in our city who has need. That's the only thing we lack, that one thing that starts the momentum of an awareness of need and moving us toward that, because we don't lack anything else. We don't lack some equipment. We have all of the equipment we need. We'll gain the equipment as we move toward that.
This morning, we're talking about saving our city. As we move through this series this morning, I want to talk about saving our city, triumphing over evil and the darkness that is in our city and bringing justice to it. I want to show you through a text and through some statistics and some points this morning that there is need all over our city, be it Dallas, be it Plano, be it Fort Worth. Wherever you are, you are surrounded by need.
Last week, we talked about being a light where you are. That's you loving your neighbors. That's you caring for those in your Starbucks and your grocery store and your workplace and your school and wherever you go on a regular basis. This morning, I want to redefine neighbor. Actually, I want to show you that I believe Jesus, the one we follow, has redefined neighbor for us. Now I'm not talking about being a light where you are. That was last week. Now I'm talking about you going into places of need or into places of darkness and being a light to them.
We're going to be in Luke, chapter 10, starting in verse 25. We're moving through a series called Let There Be Light. Last week we talked about being light where you are. This week we're talking about being light in your city. What I hope to do this morning is, first, redefine neighbor; second, look at our excuses as to why we don't love our neighbors; and thirdly, ask the question…How can we be better neighbors in our city?
I think there are some cards stacked against me this morning. First, this is a really familiar text to you if you've been in church long. I hope to look at it with a new lens as we move through this series Let There Be Light. I hope you see this text in Luke 10 in a new light. It's the story of the good Samaritan. It's a story Jesus told, which is a parable.
Parables were told to illustrate a point, but I was reading some commentaries on this, and this new truth hit me. Upon some further research, I believe it. If you're not astounded by the story Jesus tells, you've missed something. In almost all of the parables Jesus told, there is an appalling truth, an astonishing truth, a dumbfounding truth in there, that if you don't read it and your jaw doesn't drop, you've missed the point Jesus is trying to make.
This parable, the one of the good Samaritan, is no exception. There are two narratives going on. There's, first, Jesus interacting with an expert in the law. Your Bible may say lawyer or attorney. Don't think lawyer or attorney today. Think expert in the Mosaic law. Think biblical scholar. Jesus is dialoguing with a biblical scholar. Then the other narrative is when Jesus answers his questions he begins to tell this parable, so let's go.
Verse 25: "On one occasion an expert in the law [biblical scholar] stood up to test Jesus." We see his motive: to test Jesus. "'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?'" This is a very common question in this time, something biblical scholars would ask each other, and they would kind of start this biblical spar. This was normative in this time. Remember the rich young ruler asked the same question. "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Very common question.
"'What is written in the Law?' he replied. 'How do you read it?' 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"; and, "Love your neighbor as yourself."'" Pulling from Deuteronomy and Leviticus. "'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.'" It's not a satisfying answer, because who can love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? Who can actually do that?
So seeking to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "Okay, hold on. Who is my neighbor?" It says he's seeking to justify himself. Here's what's going on. He's like, "Well, tell these guys, then, who my neighbor is. Jacob, remember when I scraped ice off the windshield? Remember when I did that for you? Hey, Jesus tell them. Who's my neighbor? Hey, remember when it was warmer and I mowed your lawn? Jesus, tell them. Who's my neighbor?" Seeking to justify himself.
Jesus responds like this: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead." Jesus begins to tell a story. This interaction happened. It's historical. This place is historical, in fact. This man would have known this road. It's a literal road. It descends 3,000 feet. It's 17 miles long. Josephus writes about this road and specifically talks about how Herod had released 40 prisoners who went along this road to be robbers. It was notoriously an unsafe road to travel.
So this guy is listening, and he knows the road Jesus is talking about. He says, "A priest happened to be going…" A priest would have been this man's hero. "…down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side." When he sees the man who has been beaten and left half-dead and half-naked, he passes by on the other side. "So too, a Levite…" A Levite is someone who assists the priest from the tribe of Levi.
"…when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii 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.'"
Here's how I know we don't get it: nobody gasped. Nobody said, "What? A Samaritan?" We don't understand what's going on. I need you to feel this in the first century. There's a thousand years of racism going on. This teacher of the law hates Samaritans. He would have traveled a whole day out of the way just to not have to look at a Samaritan. That's the deep disdain within his heart.
Do you remember the woman at the well? She says, "What are you, a Jew, doing talking to me, a Samaritan?" Do you remember when they called Jesus a "demon-possessed Samaritan" in John 8? That was an insult, the biggest insult they could come up with to call Jesus. They said, "You're a demon-possessed Samaritan." They hated Samaritans. So let me retell the story. There's a man in Dallas, Plano, Fort Worth. He spins out on the ice. Billy Graham is traveling by, sees the man, and drives on by.
Then comes along Beth Moore. Beth Moore walks up to him, sees him, sees he's hurt, and keeps going. (I'm making this up, so don't hate Beth Moore or Billy.) Now who do we hate? I know you love Jesus, so you're like, "I don't hate anyone, JP." Who do we hate? Nobody. We don't hate anyone. Let me try. Jihadist John comes up. He has his black knife, his ninja outfit. He sees the man. He's moved with compassion.
The Lord moves in his heart in the moment, and he renders aid to him. What? That doesn't make sense. He wouldn't do that. That's how this guy is feeling. "A Samaritan wouldn't do that. I hate the Samaritans." You might be like, "Well, they weren't wicked or evil. They weren't doing terrible things." That's how this guy felt toward Samaritans. Now it's like, "Whoa!" We're appalled. This guy would have been appalled.
Jesus asks a question. "'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied…" He couldn't say "Samaritan." He just simply said, "'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'" This is a really clear call to show mercy to those you are least likely to show mercy to. Jesus made a hero of the one the man hated to prove a point. So let's ask the same question this guy asked. Now 2,000 years later, who is my neighbor?
The best answer we can derive from this story is our neighbor is anyone around us in need. This is a key truth to understanding how to save our city. We must understand that our neighbor is anyone around us who has need. That's what Jesus is saying here. Regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of any background or social status. Who has need? I want to show you that there's need in our city. When you think of DFW, what do you think of? What are the statistics that come to mind when you think of Dallas-Fort Worth?
Here's what I think of. I think of shopping. I think of pretty people. I think of wealth. I think of entrepreneurialism. I think of Botox. I think of trucks. But there are two tales to our city. Statistically speaking, there are some statistics, some things we're the biggest and best and fastest at that are a little uglier than the things I just said, a little uglier than the things I just read to you. We are known, indeed, for our wealth and shopping, but we are also known nationally for our crime and poverty.
This comes from the Dallas Task Force 2012 study. Mayor Rawlings calls us the "poorest rich city in the country." Dallas is the number-one poorest city over a million people in the nation. We have the nation's single worst child poverty rate. We are the second largest in growth of overall poverty (it's growing; it's getting worse from 2000) and third worst overall growth in poverty rate at 24 percent.
This is said of Dallas: the poverty level in the DISD (Dallas Independent School District) is one of the highest in the country, higher than New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Detroit. Ninety-four percent, the vast majority, of American cities are safer than Dallas. Dallas County (this comes from the Dallas Morning News recently) was the deadliest place for women in Texas last year. The single deadliest place for women in Texas last year.
We have a $99 million sex trafficking industry in DFW. There is a brothel a half mile away from where we are right now. "What? Those things still exist?" A half mile from where we are right now. These are some stats I pulled from West Dallas. This comes from the 2010 Census Bureau. It says 67 percent of children in West Dallas are born to single moms. Sixty-seven percent are fatherless. Thirty-seven percent of families are living below poverty level with an average per capita income of $19,559. That's per family.
Sixty percent of the population has no health insurance. Seventy percent of the adult population has less than a high school education. These are your neighbors. Only 2 percent of the population has a college degree. Fort Worth, I wish it was better for you. In the past 12 months, prostitution in Fort Worth is up 12 percent. Homelessness in Fort Worth is up 60 percent, and one of the most impoverished areas in your city is right across the street from the Ridglea Theater, right across the street from where you sit right now.
Plano, 70 percent of Collin County is unreached with the gospel. Kyle sent me that stat. I reached out to him yesterday. I thought it was a typo. Let me say it again in case you fell asleep. Seventy percent of Collin County is unreached. We get on planes and pay thousands of dollars to go to places where 70 percent of people are unreached for the gospel. It's Collin County. Over 6,000 violent crimes in Collin County in 2013.
I know we'll go to Trinity Groves or Bishop Arts or the Fairmont and call it a mission trip when it's a date. I know we'll move into those places when it's cool to move in, and we'll just displace poverty. That's called gentrification. Just relocating poverty. Not really solving the problem, but thinking about how we can do better for ourselves in the midst of it. But what are we doing about the hurting in our city? How are we solving that problem?
Before you go despairing on me, I want you to know there are some folks here at Watermark… There are some real heroes around you. There are some people who wake up every single day and ask, "Hey, how can I save my city?" They're doing it, and they're just as busy as you are, and they have kids running around just like you do, and they have soccer practices too. They ask, "How do I give my life to repairing the place God has given me to steward because of where I woke up this morning?"
I think of my friend Kristi Lichtenberg, one of my own personal heroes. She could teach just about anywhere she wants. She has a degree in counseling and a master's in bilingual education. But where does she teach? She gets up every day and drives to Cornerstone Crossroads Academy to serve kids who have been kicked out of public schools, kids that when you look at them you might see a thug. When she looks at them, she sees hope. She sees future innovation.
She sees people who haven't been given a chance who desperately deserve a chance, so she gives them a chance. I met with her students. I got to share with them at graduation, and I just said, "I want to tell you something. When you get to heaven and meet Jesus, he's going to be really familiar to you. It's going to seem like you spent a lot of time with him, because you knew Kristi. She's representing him to you right now. She's someone who gave you a chance."
She's one of many. I could go on and on with other names in this. There are a lot of them, but now I just want to ask the question…What prevents us from doing that? What prevents us from being neighbors to those in need? I believe there are four excuses. Jesus asks, "Who was a neighbor to that man?" and the biblical scholar responds, "The one who showed mercy." So what prevents us from being a neighbor to those in need?
First of all, our schedule. Like the priest and the Levite, we're busy. They were going somewhere. They had somewhere they needed to be, either to worship in the temple or coming back from worshiping in the temple, returning home. They had an agenda. They couldn't see. We have somewhere we have to go, and until something is an inconvenience to us, until it's on our doorstep, until it affects our neighborhood, our community, our street, then it's not our problem.
But Jesus is going to great lengths in this story to say, "It is your problem. The problems around you are my followers' problems. The one who has need around you…that is your neighbor." That's what he's saying. Do we believe that is what Jesus is saying through this story to us? Do we believe that's why God Almighty preserved this text for thousands of years so we can look at it a little deeper this morning? We're going to have to create margin to be better neighbors to those in need.
I know that when we hear of someone in need we can respond three ways. We can help them, we can hurt them, or we can ignore them. We can help them, like the Good Samaritan. We can hurt them. You say, "Well, who would do that?" Anyone who would take advantage of their situation for personal gain, to profit from their situation. Or we can ignore them. We can pretend like it's not there because it doesn't affect us. It doesn't affect our street. They're not our actual literal neighbors, and Jesus says, "No, no, no. They are."
Another reason we don't render aid to those in need is because of our understanding of religion. The priest and the Levite had been in the temple worshiping. The priest would have had to follow what we call today a six-foot rule. He was religiously obligated not to come within six feet of someone who might have been dead, according to the laws. Before you go judging the priest, he's just following the law.
The priest would have been from the tribe of Aaron. The Levite would have been from the tribe of Levi, not from the tribe of Aaron, not able to be a priest but a priest helper. He's watching the priest. In the text, in the Greek, it seems to say he walks up to the person and then continues on. "If he didn't help him, why should I?" Because of their religion. Some of us want to become smarter biblical scholars like this teacher in the law. That's our orthodoxy or our doctrine or our belief, but we're not living out that belief. That's our orthopraxy, our practice, our activities.
I've had people say, "We talk a lot about doing. What about being? We need to be with Jesus." I would say if your being doesn't turn into doing you're not being. I said I would say it. Jesus actually said it. That's actually what Jesus is saying here. James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
I'm not saying that you do good for God's acceptance. You don't. You do good from God's acceptance. We do not do good for God's acceptance; we do good from God's acceptance, because we've been accepted by him. Let's redefine Good Samaritan for just a moment, because I think we think of Good Samaritan as this Good Samaritan moment. "I had this moment where I was a Good Samaritan" or "He was a Good Samaritan in that moment." No. Jesus is saying, "My followers are Good Samaritans wherever they go. They're looking for opportunities to render aid to those in need." So why don't we do this?
Thirdly, because our idolatry of comfort, like the Levite. You get dirty. If you bandage a wounded person, you get dirty. It's not safe either. It may not be safe. You don't know what's going to happen. Robbers might jump up and beat you. You don't know what's going to happen. I had some friends here. They actually moved their families from North Dallas to West Dallas…families, children…to attend school there, to make an impact in the community.
The number-one response they said they got from people was, "Aren't you worried about your family? Is it safe?" That's a good question. "Is it safe?" Remember my friend Kristi? She has dodged bullets. She has been fought. She's been cussed at, shot at. Is it safe? This is how my friend responded. I thought it was very appropriate for us.
She said, "Is it safe? Is Frisco safe from materialism, safe from idolatry, safe from the things that will drive your children to an apathetic faith, where they have some knowledge of God but no real desire to actually live it out, to lose their life for the Lord's sake because they have too much? Is that safe?" You're worried about getting shot, but you're not worried about your kids having some lukewarm, watered-down something that kind of resembles a belief in Jesus? Is that safe? How would we say that's safe but that's not safe?
Fast-forward. Whose children are going to have a better understanding of the incarnational gospel, losing their life for the sake of Jesus? Who's seeing it closer? Who's willing to live it out more? That's a rhetorical question for your consideration. Like when Ebola came to Dallas. I think there were two responses to it. One is "What does this mean for me? Do I need to get a mask? Let's buckle down in our house." Another is, "What does this mean for them? How do we resource hospitals and those who have been prepared to help this situation, because it's in our city?"
If you think that's crazy, I just want you to consider something. Do you realize that hospitals are our game? Orphanages are our game. When I say our, I mean Christ followers, Christians. You're like, "What are you talking about?" St. Jude's Hospital, Plano Presbyterian Hospital. These are church names. Baylor University Medical Center. If you don't know, there's a Baptist affiliation. You look on the top of hospitals, and there are church names or Christ-follower names. That's our game.
Without Christians, for a long, long, long time, there would not be people to care for the sick. This is one of the ways Christianity exploded. You talk about orphanages. There would be virtually no orphanages in times in history without Christians. Those are the games we ran. If you consider that and you're sitting there and are like, "Wow, he has a point," I have a real concern that we're losing that to the darkness that's around us, that we're starting to think of Christianity and church as this thing we go to, not this thing that we are everywhere we go.
Why don't we do this? Our prejudices. That's what Jesus is showing us here. Our prejudices. Do you see people? There's this really interesting detail in this text. It says they stripped him of his clothes. Clothes would have been valuable, but in spending some time in the commentaries, which affirm this, I believe the reason Jesus says this is because they removed the man's identity. Do you guys know what I'm saying by identity?
There's a group of folks who drive over to The Porch from Weatherford. I know it's them because they have their starched wranglers on and their pearl snaps and their big cowboy hats and their boots and (this is my favorite) their spurs. I'm always like, "Did you ride over on a horse?" When I see them, I'm like, "Oh, that's the Weatherford crew," and when they see each other they're like, "Oh, you're one of me. Here we are."
How do I know that? Because of what they're wearing. In this culture, even more so. What you wore would have been your tribe. Is the guy a Samaritan? Is he a Hebrew? Who is this man on the side of the road with no identity? The Samaritan doesn't care. Let me explain to you what I mean. This week I was driving down Greenville, meeting someone for lunch. I was running right on time, and there was a guy whose car was broken down, and he was trying to push it up the little incline into a parking lot…and struggling, I might add.
Somebody else had come along, and I'm driving by. There are three lanes of traffic in between us, and it's lunch traffic. I go by, but I've been in this text. Here's the thought that crossed my mind. "What if that literally was my neighbor?" What if I drove by like, "Oh, that's John's car. Oh, John, your car broke down?" I knew it wasn't. In fact, it was a car that looked like it shouldn't have been on the road, and it was a guy who looked very different than me.
I knew from what I could see that it wasn't my neighbor, but Jesus has removed the identity of this person and says, "Hey, what they look like doesn't matter. Put your prejudices aside." Because I had been in this text, I went back and helped, but I'm grieved to think maybe I wouldn't have if I hadn't been in this text. Maybe I wouldn't have stopped and would have been like, "Hey, I'm running late for a lunch. Somebody will help him."
Do you see our prejudice? We might say, "Well, we don't have prejudices," but here's the deal. If I drove by that person and it was my buddy… If I see my friend there, I'm going to stop. Jesus is saying, "Hey, they're all your friends. Respond to every person in need like you know them personally." That's what he's doing here. If you help when it's an inconvenience to you, that's not Christ's Christianity. That's a narcissistic Christianity.
The gospel, what Jesus teaches us, is that we help when someone could do nothing in return for us. Isn't that what God did for us? Isn't that what grace is? That while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. When we could do nothing in return for him and he could only save us… When we represent Jesus, isn't that what it looks like? We help those who can do nothing in return for us, who don't even deserve our help. Is that not grace?
Who was a neighbor to this man? The one who showed mercy. Not the one who gave him what he deserved. The one who showed mercy. Some people here get it. It encourages me like crazy. There's this Community Group here at Watermark that has come alongside Kristi and Cornerstone Academy. I got to read an email she wrote yesterday, and she just talks about how they bring meals to Cornerstone Crossings Academy twice a month, how they make repairs to their facility, and when technology breaks they're there to help fix it.
There are some people in their Community Croup who are really good with computers, so they're there to help out. They take pictures and videos for their social media. They help with transportation and planning for summer camps, and they even help when students are high-maintenance or have a specific need. In fact, she talks about one particular story where the student had a child, and they couldn't go to a school function because they didn't have day care, and this Community Group went and watched their kid for them.
I hear that, and I'm like, "I think that's what Jesus would have done." I think that's what Jesus is calling us to do. They talked about how it's better to go and serve as a Community Group. When one of us can't be there, someone else can. It's not like we're carrying this weight alone. We're doing it in numbers. Some get it.
My friend is serving at Brother Bill's Helping Hand, and he delivers groceries to the elderly people who can't come to the grocery store. One of his first stops… He stops in. There's this elderly man there. He gets to share the gospel with this man, and this man trusts Christ. In some of his last years, maybe his last days, he becomes a follower of Jesus Christ. Praise God. My friend gets it.
I have friends who volunteer with ACT to shut down crack houses. I was driving through West Dallas with Jeff Ward, who's over our External Focus ministry here, and we see this crack house, and he tells me how it operates like a time-share, how the pimps and prostitutes go at this part of the day, and then the crack dealers go at another part of the day. It's just an abandoned house, so they just use it like a time-share for business. I thought, "What a travesty." He goes, "Yeah, but here's the deal. We have some attorneys here who really know and understand the law."
They can't kick out the pimps and the prostitutes. You would think they could. They can't kick out the crack dealers, but what they can do is have the house torn down because it has been abandoned. So they worked through the legal system to make that happen. They're saving our city. They're using the resources, gifts, and talents that have been entrusted to them to save our city. I have some friends who volunteer at Thrive pregnancy center. You talk about saving lives. They're literally saving lives.
So how will we be neighbors to those in our city? Certainly, you understand that our city, much more than many other cities… The city we live in really, really needs it. You have what is needed. Isn't it interesting that the Good Samaritan had bandages ready to go? On his donkey, he's just ready to go, and he made provisions for him. He pulls out the bandages, the first-century first aid kit, and renders aid to this man. He had what was needed on him. He was ready.
Likewise, you have what is needed. You have what the Lord needs to render aid to our city. You have gifts and talents that have been entrusted to you to heal our city as you assess the need. You need to assess the need. That's what the Good Samaritan does. He comes up and assesses the need. Because somebody comes up and says, "Hey, do you have a dollar?" doesn't mean what they need is a dollar.
So how do you find out if it's a dollar they need or the gospel they need or a sandwich they need or a house they need? You ask questions. When you go to the doctor and say, "Hey, my leg hurts," he doesn't say, "Oh man, your leg hurts. Okay, let's put a cast on it." He says, "Hey, what's wrong with your leg? Why does it hurt?" He asks questions. He might even dig in further to find out "Is it a broken bone? Is it a pulled muscle? Why does your leg hurt? Is it a nerve problem? Why does your leg hurt?" You have to find out what the need is.
You have what is necessary to meet the need. Every single person in this room has something that is necessary to meet some need out there. If you're good at math, you can tutor someone. Do you own a business? You can create jobs and disciple through employment. Jeff, the person who's over our External Focus ministry, is very passionate about this. You can email him at email@example.com. Are you good with cars? We have a need.
Are you good with money? We have a lot of needs, a lot of people who need financial counseling to understand how to steward God's resources. Are you a great mom? You can mentor a child. There are a lot of needs all around you. You have something. If you're an artist, you can paint with someone who has no one to paint with them. In Matthew 25, Jesus says, "There's going to be this day where there's going to be this settling of accounts," and he says, "When you did that for them, you did that for me. When you didn't do that for them, you didn't do that for me."
He says, "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'""When you tutored them, you tutored me. When you umpired their game, you umpired me. When you painted that picture with them, you were painting with me. When you served them, when you were a father to them because they had no father, you were a father to me. You were helping me." This is Jesus saying this. "When you stopped your busyness and saw someone in need around you, you were helping me."
We were in Haiti, and we were walking around. That's a frustrating process, because you have this interpreter. I don't know if you've ever shared the gospel through an interpreter, but it's like you say something, "There's a God, and he loves you," and then he says something you can't understand to some people. Our interpreter that day… His name was Vilerson, and we happened to be in his village.
We were walking around door to door in his village, and I had gone through that process. Knocked on the door of a Haitian's home. "Hey, there's a God who loves you. (Tell him.) And you've been separated from him by your sin. (Tell him.) And he loves you so much that he sent his only Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins. (Tell him.) And he raised him from the dead, and if you trust in that, Romans 10:9 says, 1 John 5:11-13 says, Ephesians 2:8-9 says…"
Finally, I got frustrated with that. I'm like, "Vilerson, these are your people. You speak the language." Vilerson was a Christian. I'm like, "Just tell them the gospel. You don't need me. I'll go in. I'll knock on the door. You just tell them." That night, we were debriefing as a team, our Watermark young adults. We gathered around and talked about that, and I told them that story. I was like, "It's really frustrating trying to share through an interpreter. The interpreters just need to share the gospel with them. We'll just go with them."
One of the guys said, "Yeah, but you know that's his village, right?" I go, "Yeah, exactly. It's his village." He goes, "Yeah, but you know you're asking him to go throughout his village sharing the gospel." I'm like, "Exactly. That's exactly what I'm asking him to do." He goes, "Yeah, but you know we don't do that, right?" I said, "Do you know you should only talk when someone asks you a question?" I said, "Quiet, young man." No. I was like, "Yeah, okay."
His name was Ryan. He just said, "Hey, when we get back to Dallas, we should do that. We should move throughout our city and just share the gospel." So he started this deal called Unashamed. He did it. He put together these 20 young adults, and they just moved through Uptown, into West Dallas, into South Dallas. It started with a church service in Klyde Warren Park. It ended with a church service downtown where our homeless community goes to church. They just loved and cared for the city, and it caught on.
He did it again, and 50 showed up. He's doing it now in two weeks. Over 100 young adults are going. Todd is smart. Talking to Todd, and Todd is like, "Hey, we should do that as a church. Everyone should do that." He's like, "Hey, we'll resource our church staff so we can do that as a church body, so you can invite your Community Groups and your families and everyone." I was talking to my Community Group yesterday, and they were like, "Oh man. Young adults are going throughout the city? That's awesome."
Then I said, "Yeah, and Todd is going to open it to the church," and they go, "Oh, crud. I might have to go." Yeah, you might have to. Unashamed weekend. More information on that will be coming in future weeks. Listen. I know you're busy. I know you have your own problems. You have your own kids, but what Jesus is saying is that kid without someone is your problem too. That kid who doesn't have someone is your someone too. That's your neighbor too. Those stats… Those are our neighbors because of where we woke up this morning.
So if you're here and you're not involved, let me give you a place to start, a step you can take. It's watermark.org/impact. There's a drop-down tab if you go there. You can start with your own interests. If you're not involved, if you're hearing this and you're like, "Hey, I have no idea what to do," start there. Go to watermark.org/impact. There's a drop-down menu, and you can just go and check your interests, and we can show you our partners.
If you've done everything you can and are looking for something else to do, you can strategize with our External Focus ministry. You can email them ( firstname.lastname@example.org). We'd love to think with you and talk about how your Community Group can get involved or whatever that is. If we partnered together, we could save our city, and make no mistake about it…our city needs saving.
In summary, our neighbors are those in need. We need to overcome our excuses and objections and do all that we can to help them and be a neighbor to them. It's interesting. While I was watching the news, I saw something else that looked very familiar. That truck we took a picture with… Remember the truck from the beginning? Somebody stole it. Of course they did. It's Dallas. You don't just leave a truck in a parking lot. Somebody stole that truck. An 11-foot monster truck. They stole it and drove it down to DeSoto.
My first thought when I saw the truck was, "That thing should not be in a parking lot. It needs to be off the road." Then my second thought… They had found the truck. It was stuck in mud. I was like, "Well, at least they took it off the road. At least they knew what it was for." It's crazy what happened, though. When the police tried to recover the truck, a guy was shot, an officer was run over, two cars were crashed. That's the crime in our city.
Who's winning, by the way? Darkness or light in our city? Remember those stats I read to you? Remember they're growing? Why? Because the light is on the bench. The light is in holy huddles, coming around, "Hey, feed me. Let me go back to my normal life." If I'm not talking to you, don't be offended. If I'm talking to you, be offended. I'm okay with that. I think we're like that truck, overresourced and underused.
I read an article about it this morning. He said whoever tried to drive it obviously didn't know what it was for. It's not for going off road; it's just to be looked at. I was like, "Man, you could have fooled me." It looked like it was to be going off road. I would tell you the opposite. You were made to go off road. You weren't made to be looked at. You weren't made to just huddle and be fed and not do anything with that. You were made to take it off road and find out where there's need and move toward it. That's why we have life. As we end and move toward worship, I'd like you guys to watch this.
Male: It's our time. We must rise up and no longer disparage. It's our time, church, to honor our heritage. We have a Savior; he gave it all on the cross. We stand beside martyrs who counted nothing as loss. They took God's mysteries, opened them up for us, Stephen, John the Baptist, Bonhoeffer, Jan Hus. Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses above, it's now our turn to model his unending love.
Our mission is one we cannot confuse, nor muddy up with some trite excuse. You say you're not well-versed, ready, or able. I think Moses even tried to use that fable. The time we have, it's now more urgent, if we should hear, "Well done, faithful servant." Yeah, church, it's our time. It's our time to confess the ways we're mangled, the sins and selfishness that have us entangled. Lust, greed, and pride…their path leads to the grave, yet we return to our sins as if we're a slave. Can we survive in this putrid dead sea? I quote Paul: May it never be.
So let's cast aside our individual leprosy and begin to leave a biblical legacy. There's a glorious prize awaiting to be won, and the way to win is to start to run. Let's lace them up and fight the good fight, become to the world both salt and light. Our life on earth is merely a vapor. Our chapter must move from pen to paper. So, church, let's get to writing, because it's our time. It's our time, church. We have what it takes to help the world from its slumber awake. To Jesus we are his beautiful bride. Whom shall we fear with him on our side?
We have each other. We are not alone. It's iron to iron in the combat zone. There's a promise of life full of adventure, as long as we give both talents and treasure. The workers are few; the harvest is plenty, with so many lives running on empty. Scores of people trying to cope. They come to the end of their proverbial rope. Young eyes are wandering, looking for direction. Make sure we point them to his resurrection. The clock's ticking. We're on our dime. Hey church, rise up! It's our time.
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