CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) — "What does your life say that you love?" said Chris Eppling, vice president of students services at Truett-McConnell College (TMC).
Eppling challenged TMC faculty, staff, and students to examine how their choices reflected their lives during the school's Oct. 21 chapel service.
"How many of you have ever been on a diet?" Eppling said, noting the reason people diet is to sacrifice the food they want because they value their health.
Applying the example to spiritual life, Eppling expounded from the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, and highlighted why believers have "a hard time sacrificing the temporal and not valuing things that are eternal."
Atheists see this as hypocrisy, said Eppling, referring to an atheist sponsored website that held such hypocrisy as a pretense for hating Christianity.
Stating that believers' lives are a reflection of their hearts, Epping said the Good Samaritan's sacrificial love should define the Christian walk and believers' relationships.
In order to practice sacrificial love, Christians must answer in humility and love, act in compassion, and arrange their lives around others, he said. "Jesus, through his conversation with this lawyer [and] through the Good Samaritan, shows us how to live out our heart for God and our heart for others," Eppling said.
Eppling related a football game during his high school years as an offensive lineman. His team's quarterback threw an interception and Eppling tried to make a tackle. Illegally, an opposing player slammed into Eppling from behind, launching him into the opposing team's bench. Eppling jumped up "cursing like a sailor," he said.
Regret for his own hypocrisy washed over Eppling, who, as a new believer, had been telling his teammates about Christ.
Realizing that "whatever is inside of you comes out," Eppling said, "If you want to live a life that is characterized by sacrificial love ... you have to respond to things differently." Encouraging believers to act in compassion, he said that loving God and loving others are "intricately connected."
Eppling advised Christians to "respond in humility" rather than "responding in the flesh." The speaker noted that "how you respond to difficulty and success reveals a lot about you."
Warning against a self-driven compassion, he added that often believers are glad to help in comfortable situations, but deny compassion to those who may be of "a different color, a different theological persuasion, or a different socio-economic status."
"If we want to live the life God has called us to, what we have to understand is that we have to act on compassion and we do not have the right to determine who we get to be compassionate to," said Eppling, noting the Samaritan regularly experienced discrimination from Jews.
Eppling related the account of Shannon Wright, a teacher who sacrificed her life during the Westside Middle School shooting in Jonesborough, Ark.
In 1998, two Westside students pulled a fire alarm and ambushed teachers and classmates waiting outside.
During the chaos, Wright realized the gunmen were hiding in woods, and saw one of them taking aim at her student, Emma. Wright shielded Emma with her own body, taking two bullets, and sacrificed her life.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," Eppling said. "Jesus says, 'I did that for you, now do that for others.'"
Vicky Kaniaru is senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.
Watch the sermon in HD Video: http://www.truett.edu/chapel/fall-2011-chapel/fall-2011-chapel-video-player.html#