04 Dec Discussion Guide: For Unto Us Week 1
Take the first 10 minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.
This week we begin a series focused on Christmas called For Unto Us. Christmas season can be filled with so much busyness, hustle-n-bustle, and lots of complicated decisions and relationships. In the midst of all of this it can be so easy to forget about the true and pure simplicity of what Christmas is all about. Three thousand years ago a promise was made by a good, righteous, and holy God to a rebellious, hard-hearted people. But, this promise was not of ultimate judgement, but rather of ultimate deliverance. This deliverance would come through the seemingly inconsequential birth of a baby in an insignificant part of the world. But, as we’ll see this month, that birth was anything but inconsequential.
What is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition?
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
”The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
What would you say is the first mention of Christmas in Scripture? In other words, when does the Christmas story begin?
Many might say the first mention of Christmas is in the Gospel of Matthew. However, what Matthew records is simply the testimony of the moment Christmas became a reality in the form of God becoming a man. The first mention of Christmas takes us all the way back to Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This promise of the woman’s Seed, known as the protoevangelium (first mention of the gospel) is actually the first mention of the promise of Christmas. Here God tells us that there will be a deliver who comes in the flesh. We see additional mentions of this all through the Old Testament. From Isaiah 7, 9, 40, 53 and more, to Micah 5, Zechariah 9 & 12, Psalm 22, and more, the promise of Jesus coming in the flesh is all over Scripture.
How, if at all, does that thought change your perception or understanding of Christmas?
The reality that that Christmas night, the night Jesus was born, has been predicted and planned by God from the beginning means that what we celebrate on December 25th is way more than just the fact that God put on flesh in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the celebration of thousands of years of God’s faithfulness and grace to do what He promised He would do and deliver us from our sins even though we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
What does Christmas tell us about who God is?
What does Christmas tell about who we are?
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When you look at the incarnation of Jesus, God the Son, how would you say He wants us to live?
To whom do you think He wants us to live that way towards?
The beauty of the Incarnation is that God, who is completely other than us (perfectly loving, righteous, holy, etc.) willingly stepped into another world, our world, and took on our customs, our culture, our fears, our experiences, he ate our food, drank our drink, smelled our smells. He was willing to completely empty Himself of all He has a right, or a claim, to, of all that was familiar and comfortable and pleasing to Him, for the purpose of stepping into our brokenness, grabbing us by the hand, and pulling us back to the surface of His design. Which means, if we are to image Him, to reflect Him to the world around us, we have to be willing to do the same. We have to be willing to step out of our world and in to the world of another. We have to be willing to lay aside our cultural norms, our food preferences, our language preference, our comforts, our pleasures, and embrace that of another, all for the purpose of pointing one another back to Jesus.
What, if anything, would you say needs to change in your life for that kind of living to be more evident in your life?
How can this group of people help you in that area?