Discussion Guide: The Story of the Bible Week 1

Ice Breaker

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: Collaborative Drawing

This game will combine your artistic talents together to create the ultimate drawing without seeing what others have added before you. You will divide the group up into teams of 4 and have each team sit in a circle or line.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper for all participants
  • Writing utensils for everyone
  • A timer or stopwatch

How to Play:

  1. Instruct each person to fold their paper into four equal sections, as you would fold a letter. Start at the top and fold down 25%, and then the next fold will be in the middle (left to right crease) and so on. They should then unfold the paper so that it is flat again.
  2. Players are then told to draw a head for their drawing in the uppermost section. It doesn’t matter what kind of head they draw or where on the upper section it is, as long as the neck connects to the top of the second section on the paper.
  3. Instruct players to fold their paper over in order to hide the head they drew, leaving only the very bottom of the neck showing to help the next player in their drawing.
  4. All players pass their folded papers to their left and accept the paper being handed from their right side. Each time a new paper is given to each player, they must draw the missing section, connecting it to the other person’s previous section without actually looking to see what it looks like. This process will be repeated for all three of the other remaining sections: torso, legs, and feet. Make sure that all the players know to leave the very bottom of their drawing visible so that the next person can continue on. Each section should be timed to avoid spending too long on this game.
  5. Once the drawings are all completed, open up the papers and check out the crazy creatures or people that are featured there!

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.

Today’s Discussion

This week we begin our new series The Story of the Bible. Many of us may know some Bible stories, but we may not actually know the story of the Bible. Over the next couple of months, we will be walking through the overarching story of Scripture by looking at the 9 main acts of the story: Creation, Catastrophe, Calling, Covenant, Crown, Corruption, Captivity, Christ, Cross, Church, and Consummation. Our goal is to come away with a better understanding what the Bible, and history, are really all about, and the impact that has on our lives as a people.

Discussion Questions

What is your favorite Bible story? Why?

The Jesus Storybook Bible

“The Bible isn’t a book of rules or a book of heroes. The Bible is mot of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!”

How does that description of the Bible differ from how many people, maybe even yourself, approach Scripture?

How does looking at the Bible as a collection of short stories with moral lessons (i.e. Aesop’s Fables) help us as readers? How does it hurt us as readers? 

How do you think the early Christians viewed the Scriptures? How would that way of reading the Bible change our perceptions today?

Leader Notes

Most people approach the Bible like they do any other religious, spiritual, or philosophical text. We tend to approach it like a collection of short stories that have moral lessons or implications. Like Aesop’s Fables, we read the Bible from a perspective of trying to better understand how to be better people, how to be more virtuous. The problem with reading the Bible this way is that it turns the Bible into a text that has us at the center. Scripture simply becomes a compilation of information to help us become better versions of ourselves through learning that leads to behavioral modification.

However, this is not how the early Christians understood the Scriptures, and it is not how we should understand them either. First of all, the early Christians did not have the Bible as we know it. All they had were the letters written by the Apostles and the Hebrew Scriptures they knew as The Law and the Prophets. Within those ancient texts, and within the contemporary letters, they were trying to better understand what God had done in Jesus’ coming in the flesh to live, die and rise again. In other words, they were looking not for moral stories, but for the one overarching story that explains who God is, who He has made humanity to be, and how Jesus came to reconcile all things back to that original purpose.

The early Christians did not see the Scriptures as a means of self-improvement. They did not look to find themselves at the center of it all. No, they were looking backward through the resurrection of Christ and seeking to better understand how that pointed to what God had been doing all along. Theirs was a Christocentric view of Scripture rather than an ethnocentric or self-centered view.

N.T. Wright, The Biologos Foundation Interview

“I think the difficulty we have is that questions about the historicity of Genesis and questions about the history of Adam and Eve get caught up in contemporary, particularly American culture. The meaning of Genesis is that this world was made to be God’s abode, God’s home, God’s dwelling. He shared it with us and He now wants to rescue it and redeem it.” We have to read Genesis for all it’s worth. To say either history or myth is a way of saying, “I’m not going to study this text for all it’s worth. I’m just going to flatten it out so that it conforms to the cultural questions that my culture today is telling me to ask.” I think that’s actually a form of being unfaithful to the text itself.”

How might reading Genesis in its historical, Jewish, context, rather than through our 21st century, American, post-modern, scientific lens, help us better understand the point of what the author is trying to say?

Leader Notes

It would help to move us beyond our own political or personal agendas in an attempt to prove we are right about something and instead understand what the purpose of our existence is within God’s design for creation.

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Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Why do you think God created anything in the first place?

Why do you think God created humanity?

What do you think it means to be God’s image-bearers?

Has humanity accurately carried out that vocation? If so, how? If not, why? 

Leader Notes

To understand what Genesis means by being made in the image and likeness of God we have to understand Genesis in its historical context. Genesis was written in the midst of ancient culture, a culture where it was common practice for people to go to a temple to offer sacrifices and worship to their god(s). The place they would offer that worship would be at the center of the temple, and in addition to an altar at the center of that temple there would also be a statue, or an image, of the god they had come to worship. This image was meant to be a representation of that god and a means by which the worshipper could interact with and encounter the presence of that god. The statue both represented that god to the people as well as provided the touch point for the people to adore that god.

So, when Genesis gives us the description of God setting an ordered and intentional space called the Garden in the midst of the untamed creation it is meant to give us the idea of God creating a sort of temple-like space where He intended to come and dwell or take His rest, amongst His creation. The last thing God places in that Garden, that temple-like space, is the thing that bears His own image and likeness. Humanity is meant to be the part of creation that both represents the Creator and provides the touch point for creation to adore its Creator. We are meant to reflect who God is out into creation and reflect the praise and adoration of creation back to God. This is what Scripture means when it calls us a “Kingdom of Priests.”

N.T. Wright puts it this way:

“The picture I often use to help people understand what Genesis means by the image of God and indeed what Paul means by the image of God because he uses that as well, is the image of an angled mirror. We often think of an image as being a mirror. Here’s a mirror, I’m looking at it. I’m seeing myself. But suppose we have an angled mirror.

I remember when I was a small boy being ill in bed, and my mother lined up a mirror in the doorway of my room so that through that mirror I could see her and other family members coming and going in the hallway outside my room so that I didn’t feel so isolated and alone. And the point about the angled mirror is that you can see in both directions.

It seems to me that God has put humans like an angled mirror in His world so that God can reflect His love and care and stewardship of the world through humans and so that the rest of the world can praise the creator through humans. And the way this comes out in many Biblical passages is to see God’s people, you get this is Exodus 19, you get this in the Book of Revelation, you get it actually in Paul as well, see God’s people as the royal priesthood, the priesthood because they are summing up the praises of creation, presenting it before God.

When humans praise God, they ought to realize that they are doing so as the representatives of the whole world, reflecting the rest of the world to God. But when humans are looking after creation and bringing God’s healing restorative justice to creation in all sorts of different ways. There they are reflecting God into the world so that the image of God is not, I think, something about us, our memory or our conscious or our imagination or our spirituality or our reason, the theologians have tried all that as though there was something about us which is exactly like God.

No doubt, a lot of that is true, but I think it’s a much more creative, much more dynamic picture, the priests and the kings or kings and queens, reflecting God to the world and the world to God. I see the human vocation, the Christian vocation as being to recover, to recapture that image. Paul talks in Colossians about being renewed in knowledge, according to the image of the creator.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Why do you suppose Paul uses the language of “New Creation” to describe what Jesus accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection?

What does it mean to be reconciled?

How does the Gospel accomplish this “putting back together” in our lives? In Creation?

Closing Thought

What would it look like for us to be a reconciling community?

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