07 Jul Discussion Guide: The Gospel Is For Everyone Week 11
Community Groups Vision
If you have time and feel this would help the new people in your community group better understand what you are trying to accomplish as a group then take 2 minutes to show this video.
This week we continue our series The Gospel is for Everyone. There are many things in our world that look and feel like they are only for the select few, the wealthy, the powerful, the privileged. In a world that seems so unfair at times, we are going to take a look at something that knows no prejudice and shows no favoritism, and yet it is the most powerful thing the world has ever seen. We are going to take a look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that is for everyone who believes.
For people with children: Which of your kids would you say most resembles you How so?
For people without children: Which of your parents would you say you most resemble? How So?
How doe sit make you feel when you see that resemblance?
N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is.
“Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…
What does it mean for us to resemble God?
To resemble God means to reflect who He is to the world in both action and motivation. It’s not just in what we do, but also in why we do it, not just in what we say, but in why we say it. One might argue that the motivation behind what we do doesn’t matter because people never see it. However, I would beg to differ. Though people may never hear you say why you do something, they will always experience and feel it. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason will always produce a bad feeling in the person you are doing it for. A husband who begrudgingly stays faithful to his wife most likely doesn’t have a wife who feels cherished and loved even though he has never committed adultery on her. Motivation matters.
And, motivation especially matters when it comes to resembling God to the world. If God isn’t just loving but is the very definition and essence of love, then to resemble Him, to reflect who He is to the world, means reflecting unconditional love. Unconditional love is not something that is merely seen in what we do, but also in why we do it. If we do something that appears to be loving but our hope in doing so is to gain a reputation or some kind of benefit in return then the recipients of what we have done are not going to see unconditional love as a result. They will see self-righteous arrogance or false humility and that will not point them to who God is, it will misrepresent God to them instead. The only way to truly resemble God to the world is to expect nothing in return, to stop needing the world’s approval or affirmation, and the only way to do that is to first recognize all the approval, affirmation, love and joy your heart could ever wish for has already been given to you in Christ Jesus.
What does that look like in our actions? What about in our motivations?
Why do you think it is so difficult for us to do this?
Resembling, or reflecting, God, and His unconditional love, to the world, is so difficult because we still live in a broken and fallen world and possess minds and bodies that are in the process of being redeemed but are not fully there yet. We still give room to the accusations and lies of the Deceiver who tells us that God doesn’t really love us or want what’s best for us. We still allow fear and rejection to dictate our motivations which leads to grasping for control of our situations through manipulation and deception ourselves. We chase after the temporary affirmation and pleasure of created things rather than resting in the eternal love and affection of our Creator. We are so desperate to know that we matter, that we are significant, that we jockey for a position in life seeking to be the envy of others.
Even the most religious among us can have the exact same motivation of fear. We tell ourselves if we read our Bible more, serve more at church, attend more church meetings, jump through all the right religious hoops, then we can have the assurance that God is pleased with us and people think much of us. The problem is that what our hearts truly crave is love, and love can never be earned or awarded. So, we put ourselves in a Catch-22 because we strive to be loved not realizing love cannot be earned, it can only be given and received.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace, you have been saved.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 17-19
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. “
What transformed Paul from a self-centered keeper of God’s Law to a self-sacrificing bearer of God’s image?
How does the love of Christ, as revealed through His life, death, and resurrection, deliver us from self-centered life to self-giving love?
We cannot extend to others what we have not first received in ourselves. It is impossible for us to love others unconditionally unless we have first experienced and received the unconditional love of another. This is the power of the Gospel. Yes, Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished the forgiveness of our sins and the destruction of the power of sin in our lives. Yes, it accomplished the reconciliation of a relationship with God. Yes, it defeated death. But, all of that points us to the unconditional and unending love God has for us. In fact, it is that love that destroys the power of sin in our lives because the power of sin grows out of the root of fear and shame. Yet, in the Gospel, we see that while we were at our worst Christ came for us. This reveals to our hearts that God is indeed good and trustworthy. It reveals to our hearts that God does have our ultimate good in mind and that He loves us even more than we love ourselves. As Isaiah says, “Perfect love drives out all fear.”
And, when we know we are loved this way by the King of the Universe then every other opinion, perception, and offer the world has to give pails in comparison and therefore loses any and all power over us. When we no longer have to fight and scratch for the scraps of popularity, perceived security, or temporary pleasure then we are free to be who God created us to be as His image-bearers. When I don’t need anything from you then I am capable of giving all that I am to you, and in doing so I put the unconditional love of God on display. I resemble my Heavenly Father.
Think about it…Jesus was able to show us what unconditional love looks like because He has no need that we can meet. He already had a perfect relationship within the Godhead. He already had all power and dominion (even Satan recognized that). He already had eternity. There was literally nothing that humanity had to offer Him and yet He gave Himself for us. When we realize that is how we have been loved then we are set free from the fear and shame of sin and are able to more accurately resemble God to the world around us.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
What do you think God most wants from us?
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
What do you think God most wants for us?