12 May Discussion Guide: The Gospel Is For Everyone Week 3
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 new 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.
Why do you suppose much of our culture feels the same way about people publicly sharing their faith with others as we feel about solicitors coming to our doors?
“If he have faith, the believer cannot be restrained. He betrays himself. He breaks out. He confesses and teaches this gospel to the people at the risk of life itself.”
Oscar Auliq-Ice, CEO of Icetratt Capital Management
“You cannot fix a problem in the world unless you’ve already resolved the underlying conflict within yourself.”
What are some of the biggest, most pressing, issues in our world today?
What would you say is the common denominator underneath all of those problems?
Some of the most pressing issues that may get brought up in your group discussion are:
- Climate Change
- The exploitation of others (trafficking)
- Security and Well Being
- Lack of Education
- Government Corruption
- Malnourishment & Hunger
Of course, they are many more pressing issues, but the point we want to make here is that all of the social, cultural, and even some of the environmental brokenness our world experiences on a regular basis is the direct result of sin and idolatry. It is human beings causing harm and destruction by our own choices that are bringing about this brokenness.
Racism is the pride of one ethnicity seeking to suppress another.
Poverty is either the result of poor choices made by the one impoverished, or greed in the heart of the wealthy that keeps them from sharing what they have.
Corruption is the self-centered heart seeking to use power and privilege to continually elevate one’s self at the expense of those downstream.
Pollution comes from the view that creation simply exists for our own personal gain and the selfish mindset that says I don’t care how my choices may affect the quality of life experienced by others.
On and on we could go. The point is this…all of that sin is the result of some form of idolatry. It is humanity looking to creation to provide the identity, value, position, and acceptance that only our Creator can truly provide. The reason we look to created things, rather than Creator God, is because at some point we have all bought into the same lie Adam and Eve bought into. We have believed at some level that God does not truly love us or want what is best for us, and that thought has triggered fear in our hearts. And, when fear grips our hearts we grasp for whatever we feel will give us control of our situation. Adam and Eve reached for the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We reach for political power, sex, money, reputation, etc. in an attempt to prove our worth or solidify our standing amongst society.
We are made in the image of God, who is love. Which means love is the deepest desire of our souls, and therefore, the thought of not being loved strikes our hearts with great fear. That fear causes us to turn away from God and seek to become like God ourselves, defining right and wrong in an attempt of securing our own self-worth.
If fear is the common denominator behind every act of sin and idolatry, then what would you say is the antidote? What is it that has the power to overcome fear?
1 John 4:18
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.
How does the Gospel provide that antidote?
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
So then, what do you think Paul is telling us when he says he, and we, are obligated to others when it comes to the Gospel?
Can that work be accomplished by merely keeping our faith private?
The way the Gospel overpowers that fear in our hearts is through the demonstration and proclamation of God’s unending, unchanging, unconditional love for us. Romans 5:8 states, “For God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…”
The Gospel tells us that when we were at our worst, not just undeserving of God’s love but ill-deserving of God’s love, God still chose to love us. It tells us that this love is not based on anything we can do or anything we have done, but solely on who God is. When we experience, believe, and receive that love then our hearts can be healed and mended from that fear and trust can be restored, and we can once again live life as the image-bearing people God has designed us to be; reflecting love, truth, justice, generosity, mercy, grace, kindness, goodness, and more of who God is to the world. In short, we are reconciled to the call to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
So, when Paul says he, and we, are obligated to others with the Gospel he is saying that if we know fear of not being loved is the root cause of sin and idolatry and the brokenness in people’s lives which spills over resulting in the brokenness of our world, and that we have the Truth of God’s unconditional love as displayed and received through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, then we owe it to the people around us to provide the antidote to the poison that is killing them. If you saw someone dying from dehydration and you just stood there holding your full water bottle without offering it to them then you would, in effect, be wishing for their own destruction. If you have the source of healing and life in your hands you don’t just stand by and watch someone die. You give them the thing you have that they need, not because they have done anything to prove they deserve it but because you love them too much to watch them die, knowing that you can bring the healing they need.
In the same way, if we know fear is attacking someone’s heart and we possess the truth that points them to God’s unconditional love and choose not to share that with them, then there is only one thing that can be said about us: We are more concerned with our personal comfort than we are for their eternal wellbeing.
Father Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
“Jesus says if you love those who love you, big wow (which I believe is the original Greek)…but to love the enemy and find some spaciousness for the victimizer, as well as the victim, resembles more the expansive compassion of God. That’s why you do it: To be in the world who God is… And here, finally, is what we seek: A compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”
It’s been said that we tend to judge other people based on their actions, but then judge ourselves based on our motivations. It is easy for us to see the sinful actions and even criminal choices of others and immediately define them as evil sinners bent on destroying our world. Yet, when we lie or cheat or do something we know is wrong we tend to say things like, “I only did that because…” or, “But, that’s not who I am…”
For us to do what Father Gregory is talking about, to stand in awe at what someone carries rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it, we have see others through the same lense we tend to see ourselves, and even beyond that, through the lens God sees us. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul says that because Jesus died for all, “We regard no one according to the flesh any longer.” The point is that we have to stop judging people from our own sense of justice or right and wrong, but instead to see them as humans (very much like ourselves) who are operating from a place of fear and brokenness both because of their own choices as well as choices others have made that have affected them, both from sins they have committed as well as sins committed against them.
When we learn to see people in that way it allows us to have compassion on them and enter into their worlds in an attempt to lead them to repentance through the lovingkindness of Jesus. This does not mean we enable or excuse their sin. It does mean we seek to understand where the motivation of their sin is coming from and address it from a place of speaking the Truth in love.