12 Aug Discussion Guide: For the Love Week 1
One of the things we value within community is fun. In the midst of all the pressures life throws at us, it is our ability to laugh, play and celebrate together that reminds us we serve a good, loving, and resurrected Lord who stands above it all. So, we want to take the first few minutes of our time together to play, have fun, and celebrate the fact that we belong to Jesus.
Today’s Ice Breaker: Defy Gravity
Using only one hand, players must keep three balloons from touching the ground for one minute. For a more challenging game, increase the amount to three balloons per player (and use different colored balloons for each player to make it easy to differentiate!). No holding the balloons! 2 players per round of competition. Give the players ample space to knock their balloons around.
What You Will Need:
- Different colored balloons inflated (not with Helium)
This week we begin a new series that will take us into the Fall titled For the Love. We will be walking through the Gospel of John and seeing God’s love as revealed through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ. We will see that love may not always look and feel the way we think it should, but that if we will allow God’s love to reveal itself to us then our lives will never be the same.
What would you say is the most significant way God has changed you as a person?
¿Alguna vez, usted o alguien que usted conoce, se ha desilusionado o ha criticado a la humanidad? ¿De la Iglesia? ¿Por qué?
1 John 4:8
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
What would you say is the significance of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity?
How would you say a Trinitarian view of God differentiate Christianity from other faiths, both in concept and in practical application?
When you think about the fact that you have been made in the image of this Triune God who is Love, how does that affect the way you see yourself? The way you view others?
1 Juan 4:8
El que no ama no conoce a Dios, porque Dios es amor.
¿Cuál dirías que es el significado de la doctrina cristiana de la Trinidad?
¿Cómo dirías que una visión trinitaria de Dios se diferencia al cristianismo de otras religiones, tanto en concepto como en aplicación práctica?
Cuando piensas en el hecho de que has sido hecho a la imagen de este Dios Triuno que es Amor, ¿cómo afecta eso la manera en que te ves a ti mismo? La manera en que ves a los demás?
Western Christianity has tended to minimize, or perhaps a better way of saying it, overlook the pre-imminent significance of the doctrine of the Trinity. We have tended to focus primarily on the doctrine of the cross, substitutionary atonement, salvation, and resurrection, and rightfully so. Those are all central doctrines of the Christian faith. However, if we don’t rightly understand the significance of the Trinity then those other doctrines will remain somewhat incomplete in our understanding.
The idea of a God who exists as One God in Three Persons is unique to Christianity. No other religion or faith system has this view of God. The reason that is important because only a God who exists in perfect community and love within Himself can have Love at the core of His being. John’s statement that, “God is love,” can only make sense within the context of the Trinity. If God has always been, and He existed before anything else existed, then you have to answer the question of, “Who, or what, was He loving before anything else existed?” For God to be love He has to have always been a loving being, and if there was no object for Him to love, or be loving towards, then He would lack the framework to understand what love is.
See, Allah is a uni-personal god of Islam. Allah can be power. He can be truth. He can be creator. But, Allah cannot be love. He could have a mental concept of love, but that kind of god cannot know love on a personal level. God existing as Father, Son and Holy Spirit means that He not only has a mental concept of love, and a personal knowledge of love, but He is the source and embodiment of love.
This is ‘ginormously ‘ important because Genesis tells us we have been made in the image of this God. Which gives purpose and definition to who we are as individuals, why we need to be connected to God and others, what sin is, what reconciliation means, and ultimately what Jesus accomplished through his life, death and resurrection. It gives a context for marriage, community, the treatment of material possessions, generosity and giving, etc. For example, God said it wasn’t for Adam to be alone, and in response to that problem the answer God brought was another human being, a female, who was just like Adam in her humanity and yet different than Adam in her sexuality. This was a representation of the Trinity. The Trinity also helps us better understand God’s commandments and why violating them is sin.
If God was unipersonal then the commandments will be interpreted as a list of rules, or moral bars, that we are to obey or keep. And God becomes some grumpy, old man, however benevolent we may interpret Him to be, who’s keeping a close eye on our lives to see if we can be good enough at keeping those rules. The Gospel then becomes about a highly disappointed God who has to judge our failure to jump over that moral bar and fortunately Jesus stepped in and took our place instead. Now, there are aspects of truth in that, but a proper understanding of the Trinity fills in the gaps and gives us a more complete picture.
If we are made in the image of a Triune God, a God who is love, then to say, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” isn’t just God saying we better not step out on Him, it is God saying we are not to seek our identity, value and worth in anything other than God’s love for us. We are not to make any graven images in an attempt to represent God because He has already made us to bear His image in loving community with one another. We are not to bear false witnesses because lying is typically an attempt to look better than you are or avoid punishment for wrong doing, both of which are trusting in the love and acceptance of creation rather than Creator. And on and on we could go. Being made in the image of a God who is Love, a Triune God, gives proper context to all of that.
Then, the Gospel, Jesus the Son stepping out of his culture and into ours, to enter into our world, to touch the lepers, to heal the lame, to raise the dead, to forgive sins, to bring in the outcast, to perfectly bear the image of the Father, and then willingly sacrifice Himself to pay the penalty to forgive sins and demonstrate His unconditional, steadfast love to heal our brokenness and bring us back into the image-bearing purpose for which we were made as well. The Gospel goes beyond just the idea of penal substitution, though it does include that, into a restoration of vocation and purpose, not just about us going to Heaven but about Heaven coming back to earth in and through us, His image bearers, as we unconditionally love not just one another, but even our enemies.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be broken. If you want to be sure to keep it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglement, lock it up safe in the casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the perturbation of love is Hell.”
How does the absence of love, or the converse fear of rejection, affect the human heart? How has rejection ever affected your heart?
How do we see those affects manifest themselves through people’s actions? How about through our own actions?
If left unchecked, what can that trajectory of the heart turn into?
C.S. Lewis, Los cuatro amores
“Amar es ser vulnerable. Ama algo, y tu corazón ciertamente se romperá. Si quieres asegurarte de mantener el corazón intacto, no debes entregarlo a nadie, ni siquiera a un animal. Envuélvelo cuidadosamente con pasatiempos y pequeños lujos, evita todo enredo, enciérralo seguro en el ataúd: seguro, oscuro, inmóvil, sin aire: el corazón cambiará. No se romperá; se volverá irrompible, impenetrable, irredimible. La alternativa a la tragedia es la condenación. El único lugar fuera del Cielo donde puedes estar perfectamente a salvo de toda la perturbación del amor es el Infierno”.
¿Cómo afecta la ausencia de amor, o el miedo inverso al rechazo, al corazón humano? ¿Cómo ha afectado el rechazo a tu corazón?
¿Cómo vemos que esos afectos se manifiestan a través de las acciones de las personas? ¿Y a través de nuestras propias acciones?
Si no se controla, ¿a qué se puede convertir esa trayectoria del corazón?
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.”
How does Jesus’ coming in the flesh check our hearts and shed light into the darkness of our souls?
How has the love of God, as revealed in Christ, set you free to be who God has made you to be?
How can we both walk in, and put on display for others, this love of Christ in our lives together?
En ustedes esta actitud (esta manera de pensar) que hubo también en Cristo Jesús, el cual, aunque existía en forma de Dios, no consideró el ser igual a Dios como algo a qué aferrarse, sino que Se despojó a sí mismo tomando forma de siervo, haciéndose semejante a los hombres. Y hallándose en forma de hombre, se humilló El mismo, haciéndose obediente hasta la muerte, y muerte de cruz.
¿Cómo la venida de Jesús en la carne revisa nuestros corazones y arroja luz en la oscuridad de nuestras almas?
¿De qué manera el amor de Dios, tal como se reveló en Cristo, te liberó para ser quien Dios te hizo ser?
¿Cómo podemos ambos entrar, y mostrar a otros, este amor de Cristo en nuestras vidas juntos?