28 May Discussion Guide: The Best Is Yet To Come Week 6
Take the first few 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 continue our new series titled “The Best Is Yet To Come.” We will be walking through the book of Acts and looking at who Jesus has called us to be and what Jesus has called us to do in light of all that He has already done. As we study the descriptive history of the early church our hope is that these truths will move in our hearts to become a prescriptive call to go into all the world and be witnesses for Christ.
What would you say are the biggest difficulties when it comes to being part of a church community?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it’s pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough…. Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.”
How would you describe the perfect church?
Do you think that church exists? Why or why not?
What, then, do you think that means regarding how God wants us to view the church He has called us to be committed to?
Because the perfect church does not exist this side of Christ’s return, that means the church community God has called us to be committed to is full of imperfect people who are just as much in need of God’s grace as we are. Therefore, we are to look for ways to love those people with the same love that Christ has loved us with. We are not to gossip, or back bite, or use, manipulate and coerce others in order to get what we really want. Instead, we are seek to outdo one another showing honor. We are to bear one another’s burdens. We are to walk in humility with one another. We are to believe the best about the people God has called us to walk with, to forgive one another when necessary and repent of our own sin every chance we get. Christ said the world would know we were His disciples by the way we loved one another, so that is how God wants us to view the church community He has placed us in, as a people in need of God’s love and grace.
Is there ever a good reason to leave a church? If so, what is it?
Yes, of course there are good reasons to leave a church. If there is unrepentant sin in the leadership and it is not being addressed or dealt with then you should leave that church. If the leadership is preaching or teaching heresy and false doctrine then you should leave that church. If the leadership is misappropriating funds and using the money to line their own pockets rather than accomplish God’s vision for that local church then you should leave that church. But, here’s the thing. All the good reasons for leaving a church have to do with sin and failure at the leadership level and never with the shortcomings, failures and/or offenses caused by other members. If the leadership is healthy and following Jesus then no matter how difficult other people in that church might be, and no matter how uncomfortable you may get because of the style of music or the color of paint on the walls or the person who talks too much in community group, you should trust God to use you as an agent of healing and reconciliation in the lives of those people. You should seek to serve and love and model Christ to those people. Maybe you need to forgive. Maybe you need to repent. Maybe you need to forgive and repent. But, if the church you are in is the church God has placed you in then you ought to fight and strive to love and serve and be part of the solution to whatever problems you perceive exist.
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
How might remembering the victory we have in Christ affect the way we view the church we are a part of?
When we remember that Christ is the One building His church, and that Christ is using His church (i.e. the people He has called you to walk with) to see His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as in Heaven, then it changes how you see the people God has put you together with. Rather than seeing them as obstacles to your own spiritual needs and/or desires, you can see them as partners, friends, maybe even tools in the hands of God meant to bring you, and thereby through you to bring them, into God’s purposes for your lives. And, if we can also remember that the way that victory is appropriated is by the way we, His people, love Him and one another, then it can also help us to be keenly aware of the schemes of the enemy to bring about disunity and division. If we are all part of God’s family as His church, and if we are on the same team, so-to-speak, then no one is expendable or dismissible. Every person God has placed in your life is an opportunity to love, serve, and overthrow the powers of darkness in this world as we walk together in unity.
What do you think is the solution to the complaints and problems that tend to arise in a church community?
The solution is you and me, it’s us. If there is something you don’t like about the church community God has placed you in then God’s desire is that you would use the gifts and talents He has given you to help to solve that problem. Is there something your church is not doing that you feel it should be doing? Then help get that thing started. Are people in your church not being served the way you think they should be? Then help provide the leadership to meet the needs of those people. Ephesians 4 tells us that the role of the Pastor is to equip the saints for the work of ministry, not to do all the ministry himself or herself. Therefore, rather than griping or complaining when God reveals a weak spot in the church He has placed you in, ask your pastor if he/she can help equip and prepare you to step into that gap and meet that need as a minister of the Gospel. I promise you that pastor will be more than glad to help with that.
It is always easier to gripe and complain, but that is not what God desires of us as His church. He wants us to be agents of healing, ministers of reconciliation, ambassadors for Christ. He wants us to be the answer to someone else’s prayers, so we need to all examine our gifts, talents, passions, abilities, and ask the question, “God, how can I better serve the people you have placed me in the midst of?”
What would a church look like if all its members committed to using their gifts, talents, resources and energy to serving one another and impacting the world around them?
What do you think it means for us to be a priesthood of believers?
The role of the priest all through scripture is to be the person who intercedes on the behalf of others, the person who helps prepare the way for others to encounter the presence of God. The way priests in the Old Testament did this was by making the sacrifice on the behalf of the people. The priests, in a sense, laid down their own rights, comforts and desires and put themselves in the place of a servant for the purpose of helping others understand God’s mercy and grace. Therefore, as a priesthood of believers we are supposed to be doing the same. We are supposed to looking for ways to serve others for the purpose of helping them encounter the presence of the living God.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
How has Jesus served you?
What did that service accomplish in your life?
What could our modeling this kind of service accomplish in the lives of others? How so?