First United Methodist Church, Water Valley, has been saddened by the death of a former beloved high school coach. Jimbo Thompson was a great guy. He was a big guy in stature, but most importantly he had a big heart. He was giving to everyone that ever came to him for help. He even went out of his way to help others. Jimbo’s wife Julia said that the reason that he helped people all the time was because he said, “it was the second commandment.” We are familiar with this text, “Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. A second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matthew 23: 37-39, RSV). As I thought about the second commandment I realized we can’t live it if you don’t live the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, mind, and soul. What a great way to live as we journey this road we call life. The reality is, that for a lot of people they just can’t connect the first and second commandments. I also believe that it is easier to say that we love the Lord with our heart mind, body and soul. However, if you can’t do the second commandment then perhaps you’re not following the first one.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is not easy. We live in a culture that is narcissistic and selfish. Society lifts self up above all else. This is not new. They even did this in Jesus’ day, “Love neighbor as self.” The values of this world are at odds with the values of those of us who are Christ followers. The world is greedy, and unforgiving. Jesus gives and forgives. The world is prejudice, and hateful. Jesus accepts and loves. Loving your neighbor is radical. Being a radical will get you in trouble, it cost Jesus his life.
In listening to his family share yesterday there was something that stuck in my mind as his son Steve and his daughter Julie shared. Jimbo taught them how to be parents and spouses. As I looked around, at all of his grandchildren, the oldest being about twenty and the youngest eight. I thought to myself, “This in all probability is the first time that their lives have been touched by this lousy thing that we call, death.” I remembered how I felt when my Grandpa Dearman died. It was awful.
Jimbo, left a great legacy. He touched many lives. A little bit of Jimbo will continue on in the lives of those he loved. The world is a better place, for Jimbo, having passed through. I am a better pastor for having known him. Thanks for all that you did and for the way that you touched so many. We give thanks for Jimbo’s life. A life well lived, a life about God, family and neighbor. Rest In Peace, Jimbo.