TD Jakes - Faith On Trial
He stands up and says to Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life"? Now, this is an innocent question. It is a question that any sinner would ask. It is a question that Jesus came to answer. But it is a trick question. It is a trap. What the lawyer didn't know is that he was talking to a lawyer. Not only was he talking to a lawyer, he was talkin' to the law writer. He was talking to the law giver. And the summarization is proven in the text that all of the law is concluded in two verses. Number one, that you love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, thy might, and thy soul.
If you forget all of the other commandments, if you forget all of the other things that you have read in the book of Exodus regarding the laws of God and what to wear and what fabrics you can't wear and what days you ought to do this and what days you, and he said it all boils down to one thing, that you love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul. If you get that right, he said, you've just completed 50% of the law. The other 50% is not the vertical relationship you have with God. I love you, Lord, but the other 50% is how you treat me. So, God says, "If you love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy mind, and all thy soul, and number two, if you love your neighbor," and it's real simple. He said, "Just love 'em as good as you love yourself".
If you're merciful with you, be merciful with me. If you messed up and you can still be a Christian, I'm just sayin', your honor, I just want to present to the court for your consideration that the same grace that looked beyond your weakness and saw your need, extend that same grace over to me, and the whole case will be thrown out of court. Let me tell ya, half of the people who are accusing their spouse and fighting with one another, "And I thought you're supposed to be a deacon. I thought you're supposed to be a woman of God". "Just wait a minute. You're right, I'm guilty, I'm wrong. I am guilty, I throw myself on the mercy of the court". He that is without fault, if you never messed up, kill me, but if there was grace for you, find a little bit of grace.
Don't throw it all out, find enough grace to find it in your heart to, if you can conceive that it is possible that you can be as moody, and nasty, and rude, and gossipy, and lie, and still quicken, and still shake, and still jerk, and still have the Holy Ghost, then maybe it could be possible that the same grace that looked over your fault, let a brother have just a cup of grace. Let me have a little bit of grace toward me. This is a discussion of what is going on here today. Are you with me so far? I want to go a little bit deeper. The debate becomes not only what is written in the law, but what is intended by the law. This is why we have the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is not there to tell us what the law said, but to interpret what was intended by the law.
So, Jesus says while you want to debate about what the law said, the whole spirit of the law is tied up in these two points. Love God with all your heart, your mind, your soul, and love your neighbor like you love yourself. The only warning I want to give you about that is try not to hook up with people who don't love themselves, because if you hook up with somebody who doesn't love themselves, you get caught in the vortex of their own self hatred. It is impossible for you to hate you and love me. You don't have the capacity to fall in love, 'cause you don't love you. You can only treat me as good as you treat, that was worth the whole trip in the cold with your ears frosting.
When Jesus spoke to the lawyer and said to love your neighbor as you love yourself, then the lawyer, still shrewd, continuing to stubbornly try his case, says to Jesus, "Yeah, well, who is my neighbor"? This is huge, "Who is my neighbor"? Who should I care about? How broad are the parameters of my responsibility to be loving? Who is my neighbor? Is my neighbor my block? Is my neighbor my community? Is my neighbor my ZIP code? Is my neighbor my race? Is my neighbor my gender? Is my neighbor people who vote like me? Is my neighbor people who agree with me? Is my neighbor people who do what I do? Ooh, we hung up on this question. We're hung up on this question. Who is my neighbor? Do I only perceive black folks as my neighbor? Or Indians as my neighbor? Or am I a women's advocate, and I only perceive women as my neighbor? Are Democrats my neighbor or Republicans my neighbor? Are straight people my neighbor? Oh, it's quiet.
See, this is a much bigger question than it gets credit for. Who you determine your neighbor to be determines how you love and who you love. Because what the lawyer wants is permission to stop his love within his comfort. And isn't that what we always wanna do? We wanna love conveniently. Everybody has grace for what they do. Everybody has compassion for people who think like them. I love people like me. I understand them right away. They do what I would do. They respond the way I would respond. They get mad when I get mad. They're compassionate when I'm compassionate. I get them, but what about those people who get mad over things I wouldn't get mad about that I think are petty? Who is my neighbor?
I want you to go deep down in your heart and ask yourself what fences have you placed up around your love? Because those fences define your neighborhood. Go in your phone and run down the directory, and you can find your fences by your phone book. Oh, y'all didn't mind me talking about the lawyer, but when I got on you, now everybody got real quiet. I love the Potter's House the best when it's quiet. We run all over the church and shout, but I love it the best when we're quiet, because when we're quiet, we're thinking. What happens when somebody you love breaks one of your rules and you have to wrestle with, do I throw them over the fence, or do I widen my parameters? This is the discussion that is being tried before us today. This is the litigation of how you define your faith. How far do you extend it? How merciful can you be? What is the basis to which you can forgive your sin and not mine?
The priest is a place of expected help. You should've helped me. You kin to me? You a Jew too? You're my neighbor, dude. Sometimes the people that you deem to be your neighbor are the very people that when you are in trouble, they come over and they say, Yeah, that look real bad. And they pass back over on the other side. The Levite came, the Levite, dancing Levite, jump around the church Levite, running up and down the aisle Levite, praising Levite, the worshiping Levite, the jumping, scripture throwing Levite came over there, looked at him, passed by on the other side. You have to survive. The growing pains of deliverance are riddled with disappointment. Disappointment is born out of expectation. You cannot have disappointment where you did not have expectation. I learned this a long time ago. In fact, I control my disappointments by managing my expectations. It's only my expectation that made your walkin' away hurt. I can't stop you from walking, but I can stop me from expecting. Oh, y'all ain't hearing me. And then he heard steps again.
Now, disappointment is exhausting, because too many disappointments'll make you bitter, it makes you cynical, it makes you say, "I don't care. Ain't nobody gonna do nothing, nobody's comin'". I want to meet somebody right at the point, thank you, Lord. I'm talking to you, he's talking to me. He said to me just now, "What do you think I meant when I said to Mary and Martha, 'Show me where you laid him down'"? He said, "Take me to the spot where you gave up. Bring your anointing to the place where you stopped expecting, because I am going to meet you right at the place where you caved". I don't know who that's for, that's not in my notes. I did not plan to say it, but the Lord said right at the place that you decided to settle. That maybe it's not for me, and maybe it's not gonna get any better, and maybe I'm not meant to make it past this moment. God said, "I want to meet you right in that spot right now". Whoever you are, God said, "Show me. Take me right to the spot where you quit believing that I was bigger than your situation, where you stopped believing that I was bigger than your circumstance. Take me right to the place right there".
Who am I preaching to? Let me just see you. Well, the third step came, and you gotta understand, it was a Samaritan. Now, the Samaritans to the Jews was almost like the KKK, not to black people, to colored people. Ain't no way in the world. The Samaritans and the Jews didn't even talk to each other. You remember the woman at the well, said, "You know your people and my people don't have no dealings". She was a Samaritan woman. So, when Jesus points out the ethnicity of the individual, he is expanding the borders of the definition of who you called neighbors. You understand what I'm sayin'? Jesus is sayin' is sometimes you get the best help from the most unlikely people. Jesus is saying that "If you don't broaden your definition of how you define neighbors, you will never get deliverance, because sometimes I'll put your deliverance in the hands of somebody who is not like you at all. Sometimes I will put your word in the mouth of somebody that you normally wouldn't feel comfortable with to call them neighbor".
And the good Samaritan climbed down off his beast, poured in oil and wine, bandaged up his wounds, and put the man who was down, up. Jeff, they didn't hear me. The Samaritan came down so that the victim could go up. The Samaritan came down so the victim could go up. I said, Jesus came down so the sinner could come up. I'm telling you they traded places. They switched positions. He that was up came down so that he that was down could come up. Who am I talkin' to in here? Somebody in here was down, but Jesus came down so that you could come up. That's what five deliverance is. Deliverance is about coming down so that people who are down can come up. Stand to your feet. So Jesus says, meanwhile, to the lawyer, he says, "Who do you suppose was his neighbor"?
That's why I'm glad he's my attorney. 'Cause he pleads my case for me. He makes people have to acknowledge me who instinctively would not prefer me. He creates a seat at the table for me in places that instinctively you normally would not feel comfortable to have me, because you have limited what you expect from me. Jesus is broadening your understanding of who is appropriate in your life. "Who is your neighbor"? And the lawyer said, "Well, uh, er, uh," he says, "I guess the one who showed mercy is...is...is my neighbor". You know what he's sayin'? Love is where you find it. It don't have to look like you, it don't have to dress like you, it you don't have to walk like you, it don't have to vote like you, it don't have to think like you, it don't have to be your kind of person, it don't have to be your style, it don't have to be from your neighborhood, it don't have to speak your language, it doesn't have to be any little definition that you locked yourself into.
Help is where you find it. Jesus is broadening their understanding to a kingdom mentality and not a cultural mentality. Kingdom over culture. I'm gonna close with this. I want everybody in this building who has been blessed by this ministry who don't look like me or is not African American, comes from a different country or different culture or a different ethnicity or speaks a different language to just meet me at the altar right now. I need you in illustration. C'mon, c'mon, c'mon. Meet me at the altar right now. Meet me at the altar right now. Meet me at the altar right now. I need you for this illustration. Meet me at the altar right now. Thank you. Thank you. I need you. You didn't know you gonna have to help me preach this morning, but I need you. My God. My God. My God.
This is kingdom. This is kingdom. This is kingdom. This is kingdom. Come on down, I need you in this illustration. This is kingdom. I love you right back. I love you right back. I love you right back, man. I love you right back. This is kingdom. This is kingdom. Jesus says to the disciple what I am going to say to you. He said, "If love is where you find it and mercy is where you find it," the final point Jesus says to him, "Well then, do likewise".
You know what he's saying to him? Turn the world around. Turn the world around. Use your influence to influence other people. That what we worry about we shouldn't be worried about, and what seems to matter shouldn't matter, and what holds us back shouldn't hold us back, and sometimes what we're afraid of, we shouldn't be afraid of. You are welcome in this place. This is your Father's house. You're welcome in this place. Don't be afraid to be welcome in this place. This is your Daddy's house. You're not visiting somebody else's experience. You're not an observer of something that you're excommunicated from. You love Jesus? Me too. You need Jesus? Me too. We're neighbors.