Love Your Neighbour Skit

I recently gave a talk to children about Christ’s Command to Love our Neighbour.
I wrote the following skit to help get some points over and it went really well.  My son Isaac, and his friend Angus did a great job with this and the kids and grown ups laughed a lot.
So I’m sharing this for others to use if they want to….

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR SKIT

Storyline: A character called Sam Arratan has just become a Christian and needs to learn to love his neighbour and thus be a Good Sam Arratan.

Man:    Hello, are you Mr Arratan.

Sam:    Yes, I’m Sam. I’m Sam Arratan.

Man:    Nice to meet you, Sam. I hear you just became a Christian.

Sam:    Yes. Now Jesus is Lord of my life.

Man:    That’s wonderful. So that means He gets to tell you what to do. If you don’t do what He says, then He isn’t really LORD, is He?

Sam:    OK, I’m ready for my first instruction from Christ, since I have just made Him Lord of my life. What is it?

Man:    (Opens Bible and reads) “Love Your Neighbour just the same way you love yourself!”

Sam:    What? I can’t do that. My neighbours are mean and nasty.

Man:    Well, Christ’s command is to Love your Neighbour, so that’s what you have to do, no matter what your neighbours are like.

Sam:    I think I’ll move to some place where I don’t have any neighbours.

Man:    No, you will always have many neighbours.

Sam:    Not if I move to the country and live on a huge farm in the middle of the desert. Or maybe I could live on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean. Hmmm, or maybe I could live on the Moon.

Man:    You are Exasperating!

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan!

Man:    Well, Sam, Neighbours are not just the people who live next door to you, but all the people you meet.

Sam:    OK, I’ll become a monk and I’ll live away from everyone. I’ll live on top of a pole in the desert! That’s what Saint Simeon did over 1,000 years ago.

Man:    But, you’re missing something. God never asks us to do something without giving us the ability to do His will.

Sam:    So God can give me the ability to love my neighbours?

Man:    Of course He can, if you ask Him.

Sam:    So, how am I supposed to love people who I don’t like?

Man:    Well, firstly let’s discover what real LOVE is. It’s when you want what is best for someone else, no matter how hard it is for you to give it to them.

Sam:    So, I have to want what is BEST for them, even if it makes things hard for me?

Man:    Yes.

Sam:    Like, when I want them to get their broken window fixed, but I don’t want them to know it was me who hit the ball?

Man:    Yes. Or when you help them, when you’d rather be off playing with your friends or just reading a book.

Sam:    That’s going to be hard.

Man:    If God is helping you, it really will be quite easy and it will bring you great blessing as well.

Sam:    But how many hours each Sunday do I have to do this?

Man:    Oh, you don’t just do it on Sundays. You do it every day of the week.

Sam:    Mornings or afternoons?

Man:    All day.

Sam:    So after the sun goes down I can forget about it.

Man:    No, it’s ALL day, including the night.

Sam:    Like 24/7?

Man:    Yes, 24/7.

Sam:    So, when I get to 24 I’ll help 7 people?

Man:    No, silly. You have to love your neighbour 24 hours every day, 7 days a week.

Sam:    What about a Leap Week?

Man:    There’s no such thing as a Leap Week.

Sam:    Oh. I was just hoping.

Man:    You are SO exasperating.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan!

Man:    Well, Sam, Any time your neighbour has a need, you would help them if you love them.

Sam:    Well, that pretty girl down the street, I could love her.

Man:    No. Love isn’t that nice feeling you feel toward a pretty girl. It’s when you make a choice to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Feelings don’t come into it.

Sam:    I think they do. If I was raking the grass for my nasty neighbour, I’d sure have some FEELINGS about that.

Man:    Then you’ll have to die to those feelings.

Sam:    Now you want me DEAD!

Man:    No, it’s an expression. It means you have to give up those feelings and do what Christ asks you, no matter how hard it seems to be.

Sam:    Do you know where I can get a pole?

Man:    Oh, you’re just SO EXASPERATING.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan.

Man:    Well, Mr Sam Arratan, I want to make you into a Good Sam Arratan!

Sam:    A Good Samaritan! Hey I know that story. It’s about a man who helped some poor sucker who got bashed up.

Man:    Yes, he wanted the best for the injured man, even though it cost him time and money. He put the injured man on his donkey and took him to the inn.

Sam:    Do you really want me to become a Good Sam Arratan?

Man:    Yes.

Sam:    OK, where can I get a donkey?

Man:    Oh, you’re SO EXASPERATING.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. My name’s Sam …

Man:    ARRATAN. Yes, I know.

Sam:    So, I really have to love my neighbour, do I?

Man:    Well, it’s not my idea. That’s what Christ Himself commands us to do.

Sam:    Well have you ever had to love your neighbour?

Man:    Do you mean, have I ever had to want the best for someone?

Sam:    Yes.

Man:    Someone who is stupid and who really needs a lot of help.

Sam:    Well, yes.

Man:    (glares at him) What do you think I’m doing right now?

Sam:    So, you love me?

Man:    I’m trying to.

(discussion continues as they move toward the exit)

Sam:    Is it my hair? Or my good looks? Maybe it’s my muscles? I’m pretty intelligent too. I was top of my class in pre-school.

Man:    Oh, you’re SO EXASPERATING!

Sam:    No, I’m SAM. SAM ARRATAN. (exit)

Ruled by God or Mammon

What I address here might be a revolutionary eye-opener to you. I trust it opens the Bible to you in a fresh way. Many Bible truths take on a completely new complexion when considered in a fresh context. My post about the Bible being a Book of Books hinted at some of the possibilities that open to us when we see the Bible in a fresh context and with sharper application. To help me get where I want to go, allow me to present a few basic premises from which to work.

You Are Ruled

Whether you like the idea or not your whole life is being ruled by someone other than yourself. Obviously you have a high level of personal autonomy within the bounds set by your sovereign, but you are ruled none-the-less.

You are either ruled by truth or deception; confidence or fear; love or hate; and so on. But for the purposes of this discussion you are either ruled by God or Mammon.

God or Mammon

The Bible affirms that you are ruled and identifies the two masters who you can choose between. They are God and Mammon.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:24

In the original language the meaning could be taken to be, “No person has the power to serve two lords…. You do not have the power to serve God and the power of wealth.”

Note that the Old Testament prophets warned Israel about worshiping such gods as Baal and Ashtaroth. When Jesus came He did not speak of these gods, but embodied all other competitors to Almighty God under the title of Mammon.

You Are Ruled by the One you Serve

Another way of understanding what Jesus taught is that you are “ruled” by the one you serve. The Apostle Paul said that we are enslaved to the thing we serve.

“Don’t you know that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16

So you are ruled either by God or by Mammon.

What is Mammon?

Since there is a 50:50 chance you are ruled by Mammon it might be good to know what it is. Mammon is a Chaldean word. It is a word that came from the heathen people around the nation of Israel. It apparently refers to a deity and the root meaning of the word is: “confidence”; “wealth personified”; and “avarice” (which is greed).

What Mammon refers to, when opposed to the person of God, is the power of wealth.

Time to Reflect

Take a moment to ponder the following question. If everyone in the world is either ruled by God or Wealth, what would be the indicators to identify each one?

How would you tell if someone was ruled by God? How would you tell if someone was ruled by money?

And to take the reflection further, does the evidence suggest that you are ruled by God or Money? What about your family, community and culture? Which deity is ruling over them?

Simplifications

I love to simplify things so they are easy to understand, easy to remember and easy to teach. While simplifications involve reductionism which can remove key information from the topic, they do allow an easy grasp and a ready starting point for further investigation. So allow me to make some simple observations.

The simplified point I have already made is that you are either ruled by God or Money. The next observation is that God’s rule demands that we live for others. Consider these instructions from God to love others and to do to others what you want them to do to you.

“You are to love your neighbour as yourself” Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31

“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Mammon stands contrary to God’s standards and involves people living for self and personal gain. This causes people to live in pride, directed by their greed and lusts.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1John 2:16

Reflecting Again

So do you live for self or for others? Does your family and culture promote selflessness or self-gratification?

If the focus is on self, then Mammon is the master. If the focus is on selflessness, living to be a blessing to others, then God is the master.

It’s time you made sure you are in the right kingdom. Repent of self interest and self serving attitudes and values. Ask God to transform you until you can live for others and not self.

There’s More

I started out intending to discuss the Bible and its value on political topics. Hmmm. I think I’ve made a pretty good fist of this posting, without getting where I want to go. So I’ll make a point in the near future of picking up the theme of the Bible as a Political Text.

Love as the Litmus Test

Everyone has their own way of assessing things. We judge all manner of things by first impression, speech, attitudes, dress, facial expression and so on. So how does God want us to be evaluated?

God’s Litmus Test

Jesus Christ explained that there is a litmus test by which we would be evaluated. That process was one that was important to God and so it was pointed out to us, along with a command that we perform in a way that gives us a good litmus test rating.

“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35

Did you notice the words “By This”? People will know you are Jesus’ disciple by a particular litmus test. It’s not the smile on your dial, your Bible knowledge or the frequency with which you go to church. The litmus test is whether you love others or not.

A Commanded Lifestyle

There are many optional things in the Christian life. Your diet, exercise regime, domestic comforts, career and much more are completely at your discretion. But there is one thing that is commanded of you. You are commanded to love other Christians.

Now that should not be a surprise, even if it is not something you see many Christians do. Remember that the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And this command which was identified by Christ was first given under Moses.

“You are not to avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you will love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18

What Does Love Look Like?

Have you ever wondered what “love” looks like? It is supposed to be visible. That’s how it can function as our litmus test. If love was invisible then no-one would know whether we had love for one another or not. Yet it is the very visibility of our love for one another that allows people to know that we are Christ’s disciples. Got it? So love must look like something. It is not invisible.

Love Defined

The best working definition for love that I have ever heard is where we “want what is best for the other person, despite the personal cost to ourselves”.

By that definition we can see that love is completely self-less. So our love can be seen by the selfless things we do. When we put other people ahead of ourselves and help others out even though it messes things up for us, we are demonstrating something that others know is not in their life.

So if love has to look like anything at all it should look like selflessness. When we devour other people, indulge our anger and self-will, are intolerant, prejudiced, reactive or closed, we demonstrate something other than love.

Test Yourself

It is not always easy to properly observe ourselves, because we apply many filters to what we do and excuse things in ourselves we don’t excuse in others. However, despite the difficulties, we are wise to try to get a grip on ourselves and to make some kind of assessment about who and what we are.

So try testing yourself. Use the litmus paper on the acidic state of your own heart.

Take a few moments to write down ten examples of your selflessness, patience, kindness, generosity, tolerance, self-restraint and other practical expressions of love that you have shown in the past week. If you come up with more than ten items of substance then that’s a positive sign. If you can’t think of any then you need to pay particular attention to that.

God is Watching

Oh, and by the way, whether you test yourself or not, God is weighing everything you do and say. He is watching and ready to bless you if you fulfil His will. So, don’t take the subject too lightly. A good litmus test every now and then is worth the effort.

Marriage Counselling

When I give Marriage Counselling advice to couples or Marriage Counsellors there are a few basics which I always cover. Let me share them with you.

Marriage brings two different people together to establish a working relationship. When the marriage relationship breaks down, people feel hurt, betrayed, unloved, insecure, fearful, angry, bitter, or a range of other emotions. Those emotions not only challenge the marriage but they also tap issues from the background of the couple. Having a sense for this interplay empowers marriage counseling to be more effective.

The Individual

Marriage brings two individuals together for a mutually rewarding relationship. Who they each are, as individuals, affects what they can achieve as a couple. An unstable person will hardly be able to build a stable relationship. A fearful person will not be able to build a trusting relationship. An angry person will not be able to build a loving relationship.

So, before a marriage counselor becomes too distracted with the relationship issues they are wise to consider the individual qualities of the husband and wife. The weaknesses, attitudes, past experience and personal skills of each spouse will impede or assist the building of a strong relationship.

Individual Complexity

People are complex, so the range of personal issues they carry could be quite extensive. A wise counsellor seeks to uncover those things which are most relevant to the person’s ability to enter into and maintain a strong marriage relationship. Issues of trust, forgiveness, correct view of marriage and relationship, willingness to change, flexibility, selfishness and fear might be among the relevant matters to uncover.

People’s behaviour is often crafted by their reactions to past experience. For example, a person who has suffered injustice will tend to be very sensitive about justice issues. A person who has been denied loving acceptance may idolise the input of their spouse and feel let down when the spouse does not meet their idealised expectations. A person who has been spoiled may find it hard to give up their will to fit in with their spouse. I refer to this individual complexity as the “baggage” which the couple brings along on their honeymoon and into their marriage. Most often the person does not know their own baggage, since it seems normal to them. Their spouse is most likely completely oblivious to this baggage.

In time this baggage will trip up the marriage relationship. These hidden things will become obvious, over time, and they will prompt a new set of problems as each spouse reacts to the issues for better or for worse. The joke goes, “Love is blind, but Marriage is an Eye-Opener!” And that’s true. Relationship brings to light the hidden things. How skilled the couple are in dealing with those revelations will impact where their marriage goes.

Relationship Skills

Because marriage is a relationship it is vital that each person has good relationship skills. If one has good skills they can save the marriage from much trouble, but it is better if both work together than that one exploit the strengths of the other.

Relationship skills are not so much ‘skills’ as attitudes. Selfish attitudes are contrary to the spirit of relationship. Inflexibility makes demands on the other party in a relationship. Unforgiveness is a cruelty which violates relationship. Independence is contrary to relationship. Stubbornness is a road-block to relationship. Self assertiveness violates others. Pride is an offence to others. Self-determination is contrary to the spirit of cooperation.

People with the wrong attitudes have the wrong skills. Yet some people need to be trained in the practical expression of good relationship skills. Listening, caring, cooperating, sharing, committing time for each other, fitting in with the other’s plans, negotiating equitably, repenting, forgiving, adapting, standing firm on moral principles and being consistent are practices which may have to be learned and practiced by today’s dysfunctional society.

Proper Modelling

When a couple does not know what they are trying to build they will have less success than they could otherwise have. A clear understanding of the godly model for marriage, as I present in my books, Marriage Horizons and Mending Marriages, empowers a couple to build the most stable and effective kind of relationship. A good counsellor is attentive to the concept of marriage the couple are working with. If it is flawed then the couple needs to be instructed and directed toward the model of marriage that actually works and works most effectively.

God’s Grace

Humans are limited creatures and they don’t have the ability to save themselves. Even the best possible help from the most skilled Marriage Counsellor is not enough. Each person and each couple needs to have the grace of God released into their lives and relationships.

Good Marriage Counseling releases God’s grace into each individual spouse. That’s why Christian Marriage Counselling is so very important in the lives of couples who need help. Secular assistance can give good advice and sound wisdom, but it cannot release God’s divine touch into the lives of the couple.

If a couple cannot access Christian Marriage Counselling then they should find a Bible-believing church where they can get prayer and ministry to release God’s grace into their personal lives and into their marriage relationship.

7 Things Destroying Relationships

I spoke recently on the topic “How To Stay In Love”. In researching for the message I checked out what people suggest are relationship breakers. There are a number of things people suggest are lacking in relationships that go sour. As I pondered the issue I came up with my own list of Seven Things Destroying Relationships. I thought I would share them with you.

My list is based on my own personal experience as a husband and the hundreds of hours of relationship counselling I have given to men and women, young and old, over several decades. So this list does not come from guesswork or shallow assumptions.

I point out that I have had people walk out on my sessions, weep, argue, kick the furniture, go silent, sulk and give other varied reactions to my input. I have done the hard yards in getting to the insights which I now share with you. Please don’t take this list lightly.

OK, are your ready to check yourself against Pastor Chris’s hot-list? Are you ready to allow our own heart to be convicted by these Seven Deadly Sins? Are you man or woman enough to face realities which you might not like?

You still have time to click off this page and save yourself the offence of what I am about to share. I will never know that you chickened out and ran back to your delusions.

………

Still with me??

OK ‘brave-heart’, here we go…….

The Seven Deadly Sins Destroying Relationships are…….

1. Selfishness

2. Being self-focused – Selfishness

3. self-Ishness

4. Caring for self first – ‘selfishness’

5. SELFishness

6. See item #1

7. More of the same…..

The reason I can be so confident in making up this list is that Love and Selfishness are mutually exclusive. That means they cannot exist in the same place at the same time. I know that to be a fact because of what the Bible teaches in the world’s most beautiful description of “love”, 1Corinthians chapter 13.

In 1Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul gives an extensive and awesome description of love. And in that description he says that “love does not seek its own”, 1Corinthians 13:5. That is the same as saying: “Love is not selfish”, “Love does not push its own will”, “Love does not demand its own way”, “Love has given up self-interest” and “Love is not demanding”.

When we find people who are selfish, demanding, argumentative, pouting, jealous, angry, resentful, hurt, pushy or self-indulgent, we know that they do not have love. Real Love does not display any of those things.

So, if you are facing challenges in your relationships take a moment to consider how you rate on any one of the Seven Deadly Sins Destroying Relationships which I have outlined above. As you call on God’s grace to transform you from being a selfish person, to being one who can love others unconditionally, you will find your relationships with others are transformed too.