TAOBAN: Fences and Barriers

The Art of Being a Neighbor  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When we see our neighbors as Christ sees them, we are moved beyond the barriers of time, fear, and unforgiveness.

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Strong Fences Make Good Neighbors

Have you ever heard this?
I have a friend who trains police dogs. His wife was telling me the other day about how their neighbor has started free ranging chickens and ducks. She said this is not going to be pretty, because the only thing their dog likes more than biting bad guys is biting small feathery creatures.
For her neighbor, having a big strong fence may the only way to stay friends.
Sometimes strong fences are necessary. We build these fences to protect our neighbors…or to protect our family. These are OK for us, cause we know how to operate a gate.
But more often we build barriers that keep us form loving our neighbor as ourselves. Barriers that don’t have gates or if they do, we don’t understand how to unlock them.
Three of these barriers I want to talk about today are TIME, FEAR, and UNFORGIVENESS.


we have other relationships besides our neighbors. So when the Jesus says’ love your neighbor…we hear…uhoh, when am I going to find time for that?
we have all this technology, that is supposed to make life simpler, but it does anything but.
Just a few years ago if I told you all the things we would have available to us today, you would say…man what will I do with all the time?
make phone calls while riding in a car
send mail electronically…while you make phone calls in the car
see the people you are talking to, while you send mail electronically while you are in your car.
Maybe you have been tempted to tell yourself one of those famous lies:

TIME: Things will settle down one day.

Those of you who are retired, you know this doesn’t happen…life doesn’t slow down.
Until then, we may be tempted to believe lie #2

TIME: Just a bit more will be enough.

Haven’t we realized yet that one more will never be enough. Enough never arrives when we are looking for it in shinier, newer, and more exciting.
or we fall for #3

TIME: Everybody lives like this.

Believe it or not, everybody doesn’t live like this. There are actually people who live healthy lives out there.
Or perhaps the barrier you have established is the barrier of fear.


Fears are normal when we do things we don’t normally do. Fears of reaching out to our neighbors is pretty normal.

Fear: What if

What if they slam the door in your face? what if they they want to borrow your stuff? What if they aren’t Christians? AWESOME!

Fear: Distorts

the reality is, fears distort how we see reality. Dangers are over blown. We watch the news or we hear rumors and without even knowing if they are true, we let them run away in our minds and we get all worried about what might happen one day in the future and that fear prevents us from reaching out in the.
When we lived in FL, when we were trying to meet our neighbors, we had one who we could never meet. The first time we went to their house, we noticed they had security cameras on their front porch. You could watch them go inside, then go to their house and knock on the door, but they wouldn’t come. I don’t know for sure, but it is reasonable to see that they had let their fears of who might be at the door prevent them from ever finding out.
Fears can separate us from our neighbors and they can keep us separate.
Or perhaps you find yourself separated from your neighbors by the third barrier,


This third barrier can take on many different looks. It can be as simple as your neighbor forgot to return the pruning sheers they borrowed years ago…or they never said thank you that time you took care of their animals while they were away. Inconsiderate behaviour like that, simple things can damage relationships among neighbors for years.

Unforgiveness: For things done to you

Maybe though it was something more serious. Maybe they damaged some of your property. Or perhaps they mistreated a family member, a child or a spouse.
Real wrongs were done, and we just can’t forgive them. It’s normal. But the irony of it is that we let the wrong things other people do, control whether or not we do the right things. It sounds crazy, but we do it all the time.
Then there is the other side of the unforgiveness barrier; when you are the one who isn’t forgiven.

Unforgiveness: For things done by you

Some times we do things that aren’t so neighborly. Maybe you did something before you were a Christian. Or something silly. something that you know they didn’t appreciate but you didn’t feel like you should apologize and ever since, the relationship has been cold. You would have never guessed that apologizing would have been this big of a deal, but now, you wouldn’t know where to start.
Unforgiveness is a tall barrier.
We see all of these, Time, fear, and unforgiveness being overcome in our text today.
Luke 10:27–35 The Message
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.” Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
I don’t know if you heard it, but all three of these common barriers were in the story.


We see good Samaritan had places to be. He was on his way…just like you and I, we are always on our way. It’s not a stretch to accept that he too had other relationships that made this beaten stranger an inconvenience for sure.
But notice what he did, he stopped and accepted the inconvenience as an opportunity to connect, to serve. In this he chose to be present, rather than distracted by what was yet to come. He was interrupt-able.

The time barrier is overcome by BEING INTERRUPT-ABLE.

The same thing happened to Jesus. In Mark 5, Jairus came and pleaded with Jesus…Help my daughter is dying, come and heal her.
Jesus went with him immediately. As they pushed through the crowd, a woman touched him in order to be healed. Jesus stopped.
Can’t you imagine Jairus, come on Jesus let’s go, my baby is sick. but what did Jesus do? He was present in the moment and took time to pay attention to the one that was right there instead of rushing off to the one that was coming next.
Mark 5:30–34 NIV84
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Jesus was interrupt-able.
Because Jesus was interrupt-able, he was able to serve those right with him. They weren’t less important than what he planned because relationships were his plan.
Being interrupt-able is how we overcome the time barrier. When we see our neighbor, are we able to stop what we are doing in order to get to know them? If we do, then we develop a relationship with them, we will naturally share our love for Jesus with them as we share our lives.
Not only did the good Samaritan overcome the time barrier by being interrupt-able, he overcame the fear barrier by being brave.

The fear barrier is overcome by FAITH.

You may not have heard much Faith in the story. But it was there. Remember the first man was robbed and beaten. In fact this road was described by historians as plagued with robbers and thieves.
I don’t want to call out anyone, but you know these places. Places where you roll up the windows, lock the doors, roll through stop signs. Look around for strangers. That was this road. The Samaritan had every reason to expect that this man could rob him, He had every reason to have a barrier of fear up. In fact, we might say he would be wise to have it up.
Yet her he was carrying a lot of cash, and he stopped anyway. Jesus was proving a point with this.
It’s true, barriers can keep us out of danger, they can protect us and our neighbor. But protection isn’t the point, loving our neighbor is. By keeping the main thing the main thing. Not by allowing barriers of fear control our lives, but by living out our faith.
Maybe you don’t know who lives next door, but do you believe that God will be with you as you go find out?
Do you believe that God will guide you in what to say when you meet them?
If so, what do you have to fear really?
The Samaritan was a to be a role model. Not for the faith part, but for the neighbor part.
Luke 10:27 NIV84
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.’”
When we live out of our faith that God is greater than the things we fear we will do greater things.
Knowing that we are serving God allows us to knock on the door of the stranger and risk being rejected.
Our faith allows us to overcome the fear barrier and reach out to know our neighbor.
Very similarly,

The unforgiveness barrier is overcome by GRACE.

This one is pretty clear. This Samaritan represented everything that a Jew should hate. But it wasn’t a one way hatred. The Samaritans certainly knew how to despise the Jews as well. You might think of them as the north and south Korean’s today…or Catholics and protestants of Northern Ireland.
Plenty of hate and prejudice to go around. But the Samaritan was able to rise above the hatred and judgmental life. To help someone who more than likely was someone he was born to hate.
Why? How did he live gracefully?
I believe it is in the text, where he SAW the man.
He saw his situation…not his skin color.
He saw his need....not his sin.
He saw his pain…not his portfolio.
Much like Jesus saw the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8.
She was caught red handed as they say. But instead of joining the crowd in punishing her guilt, Jesus offered grace.
John 8:10–11 NIV84
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Sure how she lived mattered, he didn’t agree with that, he directed her to go and stop sinning…but he lived gracefully because life and relationship is the point, not death and judgement.
In the same way, the Samaritan Good neighbor, extended grace and forgiveness.
We should ask ourselves, if our being right is preventing us from building relationships with our neighbors? I’m not suggesting you have to approve of how your neighbors live. But what I think Jesus asks of us is that we are willing to love people enough for them to see Him in us. And seeing Him in us might be just enough for them to come to faith.


Imagine if we began to be more interrupt-able?
Imagine if we reached out believing God was at work?
Imagine if we forgave…or loved the one that owes us forgiveness.
Do you think this would move us from stranger, toward friendship?
Do you think our being this kind of neighbor would improve things in our community?
Do you think that would change us?
OK, where do we start?
I say it comes by reflecting on what God has done for us, seeing ourselves as God sees us, we can begin to see our neighbor as God sees them.
Do you remember the last time your sin disturbed you?
I do, it was just this week. I had forgotten how easy it was to enjoy sin…until there I was. It was in the middle of living selfishly, the weight of my rebellious heart struck me…To imagine that God would sacrifice his son for me…wow. Then I thought about today.
How can I not love my neighbor? How can I not love the ones next door? How can I withhold God’s love?
Simple I can’t.
Are you struggling to overcome these barriers? Maybe it is because you haven’t reflected on how much you have been given.
Fortunately, today can be the day of your salvation. Today can be the start of no longer letting these barriers prevent you from enjoying the relationships that God has made available to you.
Do you want to experience this life?
Join me in praying today.
Father, forgive me of my sins. I have lived my life for too long for myself. You have opened my eyes that I am to live for you, to be your hands and feet. thank you for giving my life purpose. Thank you for forgiving me of my sin. thank you for giving me a new life. I give it back to you. Use me for your song as I am your instrument.
Lord, I need your help in overcoming the barriers I have allowed to separate me from those you have put near me in this life. I want to walk in grace. I want to be interrupt-able. I want to live my life as a faithful disciple. But I need your help. Thank you for your giving me your Holy Spirit. As I lean into your power Lord, surround me with those who need to see your love in real life. Use me Lord to build your kingdom here in Rock Hall. Make me a disciple who makes disciples.
Pray for the sick and needing grace.
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