Readings: Luke 10:25-37& John 1:14-18
Last week we began a four week series on 8 keys to successful evangelism as seen through the lens of the Lukan Parable of the Good Samaritan.
We discussed two of the keys in last week’s sermon. Firstly, ‘the fact that the Samaritan saw the man in need, meant that his focus was shifted but also that his inner VISION propelled him to act.
Secondly, one’s vision is made completed if it is laced with COMPASSION for the lost and the hurting.
In Luke 10 verse 33 we hear that the Samaritan came near the robbed traveller. Jews and Samaritans culturally and religiously despised each other [Jews looking down upon people of Samaria who lived north west of Jerusalem and Jericho. As a result they did not associate with each other under normal conditions.
This was not normal conditions but perhaps Jesus is indicating that intercultural and interreligious communion is the new normal and here is the opportunity.
Jesus came not just for the Jews but for all people He did not make tribal distinctions that we do. In the all-important first chapter of John’s gospel, the writer/chronicler/theologian is at great pains to emphasis that Jesus [the Word] has come near and lived amongst us. God made known to us through the son’s nearness.
As nearness or attendance or attention or association or presence or simply being there are words we often associate with Christ’s coming – particularly at this time of year they are also action we need to bring to evangelism [in Greek ‘euaggelion’]. The people of God must develop associations with unbelievers if we are to win people for Christ.
More people are brought to Christ by a personal friendship with unbelievers than any other method of evangelism. If we simply hang around with like-minded and same faith people and have a self-righteous attitude, we alienate others and potentially drive them away from Christ.
Being there for these folks is probably best articulated in the story of the Sheep and the Goats – often entitled ‘the Judgement of the People’ in Matthew 25. Those who ‘welcomed’, ‘gave to’, ‘took care of’ and ‘visited’ others, were doing it ‘to’ as well as ‘for’ Christ.
Marion Haigh sent an email to the elders and Church Councillors a fortnight ago with some statistics that highlighted our need to evangelise by coming near to people.
A survey found that 90% of unchurched people would come to church if they were invited and welcomed. Yet less than 21% of congregants invite one person to church a year.
Inviting and welcoming are part of the hospitality we have to share.
We spoke earlier about ‘associating’ with others, no matter what their belief or lack of belief system.
Reading: Matthew 26:6-13
The fourth key relates to the use of oil on the wounds of the beaten wayfarer.
Medicines in the Middle East of 2000 years ago were drawn from natural products such as money and the herb hyssop and from pressed grapes or fermented wine – which was used not just as a sedative but also as an antiseptic for wounds and gashes.
Olive oil had many uses but as a medicine it was used to ease coughs if drunk and applied to the skin for irritations and abrasions.
It was used to bless people with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We read most famously about this in Psalm 23 ‘You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life’.
In Acts chapter 10 verse 38, we read that God himself anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.
And, of course, in the reading we heard a few minutes ago, Mary in her anointing of Jesus is not simply doing a soothing kindness, she is preparing him for burial in a symbolic way, she is evangelising in that she is proclaiming the Good News [verse 13. She too acts in the power of an anointing of the Holy Spirit.
We too, have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, once we have surrendered to Christ and become his servants.
Therefore, the act of evangelising is done in partnership – led by the Spirit but in our anointing, we are appointed to be with – to come near to – those who need to have that appointment and contact with Christ.
It is then the Holy Spirit who will cause those people to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.