04 Jun Discussion Guide: The Best Is Yet To Come Week 7
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 is the greatest threat to society today? Why is that your answer?
What are some possible solutions to that threat?
In the 1920’s Time Magazine posted an article posing the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” In response to this article the author and theologian, G.K. Chesterton sent the following letter.
Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’
– G.K. Chesterton”
After reading that quote, would you change your answer to that first question at all?
How have you contributed to the problems of society?
Why do you think your heart tends to lean in that direction?
According to Scripture the reason the human heart leans in the direction of self-centeredness, greed, pride, lust, envy, etc. is because of fear. From the beginning, in Genesis 3, we see that our first parents were tempted and lead astray by an accusation that God didn’t really love them, that God couldn’t actually be trusted. Fear gripped their hearts. Fear that they were not loved. Fear that they were missing out on something. And, in that fear, they grasped for control. Like a person on a roller coaster, or in a car being driven by a 16 year old, they reached out to grab hold of something they felt could stabilize them, something they felt would give them control over their situation. The knowledge of good and evil was what they turned to. The ability to define their own purpose, their own existence.
Down through history we see this playing out over and over. When Noah got scared he reached for wine. When Abraham got scared he reached for Hagar. When Joseph got scared he reached for his father’s love. When David got scared he reached for Bathsheba. When Judas got scared he reached for silver coins. When Peter got scared he reached for anonymity. Fear of insignificance, fear of failure, fear of poverty, fear of loneliness, are just some of the fears we give into. The common denominator to all of those fears is they are all rooted in the accusation that God does not love us, or that God is not truly good, or that God is powerless to do anything about my situation. When our circumstances tell us that God can’t be trusted we let that fear grip our hearts and that will always lead to us reaching for something to save us. To escape our functional hell we will always reach for a functional savior.
1 John 4:18-21
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
What role does fear play in the problems of society? In your own life?
How can God’s grace in Jesus set us free from that kind of thinking/acting?
In the same way fear plays a role in our own hearts leaning in the direction of selfishness, greed, lust, pride, etc. so the same is true for the hearts of others, and therefore it is true for the heart of society. A society void of the Truth of who God is and what the Gospel is all about, invariably has to find it’s worth and significance in something else. Depending on the cultural context and history of a society, that worth and significance comes from different places. For some it comes from power and control, and so you have a society that elevates power and control which leads to people doing whatever they can to gain and maintain power and control. For some it comes from fame and reputation, and so you have a society that elevates appearance, beauty, the number of views on your YourTube video, the number of Likes on your Facebook page, and people who are willing to tear others down for the purpose of elevating their own fame and popularity. It’s different for every society, but in every place you see this kind of behavior you can rest assured that fear is at the heart of it.
The only way to overcome that fear of insignificance is to find your worth and significance in someone or something that is unchanging, that is unwavering, that is immovable. This is why God’s perfect love casts out all fear. You see, when you realize the King of the Universe, the Most Important Being in existence, the One who’s opinion outweighs every other opinion, has said you matter to Him, that you are lovely to Him, that you are worth dying for to Him then you can stop looking for that significance in other things. And, as the Creator, God isn’t confined to space and time, which means He doesn’t change, He doesn’t grow old and die, He doesn’t shift with the sands of popular culture. This means that His love also doesn’t shift. It is steadfast and immovable so you can be completely secure in His love. You can rest in your identity as beloved of God because you can know that it isn’t going anywhere. And when you have that endless supply of unconditional love supporting your identity then you don’t need that fame, significance, pleasure, etc. from any other human being, and when you don’t need anything from others then you are free to give all you have to them. When you are loved unconditionally then, and only then, can you truly love unconditionally. And what’s the answer to pride, greed, lust, insecurity? It’s love.
Why might the reality of God’s unconditional love be scary for us to accept or trust in to deliver us from that fear?
Receiving this unconditional love of God can be a very difficult and scary thing because receiving that love and grace is predicated by the acknowledgement that you do not have what it takes in-and-of yourself. It’s admitting that you are weak, that you need help, that you are not in control. To receive this love you have to first agree with all the accusations you once ran from in fear. You have to agree with them, and then give up control in trying to overcome them. You have surrender who you think yourself to be, or at least who you want to be, and let the identity God has called you to wash over all of those fears and insecurities. But, the accusation that God isn’t for you that lead to those fears in the first place will continue to threaten you as you ask yourself the question, “Can I surrender to this God?” The only way to freedom is to trust that God redefines your circumstances rather than your circumstances redefining God.
Dr. Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
If we really believed that statement, how might that empower us to be agents of healing in the lives of others and in our own society?
Is there someone you know right now who is in need of healing from some broken place in their heart? What would it look like for you to be an agent of healing in that person’s life?