18 Oct Discussion Guide: A Prayer For – Week 6
Before We Get Started
For our discussion today we will be using the sermon series discussion guides. If you would like to follow along you can access this discussion guide on the website at mosaicchurchaustin.com and then select “community group resources” in the menu options.
Because the main goal of our time together is to establish relationships and learn how to walk with one another in all that God has called us to be and do, we’d like to begin by praying for one another. So, does anyone have anything you’d like us to pray for, or anything to share regarding how you’ve seen God moving in your life that we can celebrate together.
This Week’s Topic
Today we continue our new series called A Prayer For…where we will be taking a look at the book of Psalms to learn not just what to pray, but how to pray. We see all through the Psalms a rawness, an authenticity, and a passionate love for God’s presence and God’s heart regarding the brokenness of the world around us. Over the next 6 weeks we will journey together as we focus on developing a life of prayer and seeking God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
A Prayer for Our Nation
Screwtape, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
“Prosperity (worldly value) knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”
How would you define the word “identity?”
What are some things/places people tend to find their value and acceptance in within our cultural moment?
Why do you think finding value in those things/places leads to such divisiveness and politicalization in our nation?
Identity, from a cultural and personal standpoint, is more than just who we are as a person. It’s not just how we would describe ourselves (i.e. ethnicity, personality traits, Eneagram number (oops did I say that), or relational status). Identity is where we derive our value from. Our identity is how we determine our value, worth, and standing in the eyes of others. That may include the aforementioned examples, but it does so through the lens of how those descriptors either contribute to or detract from the value we possess to our culture. We look to identify ourselves based on political affiliations, ethnicity, monetary status, job titles, relational status, education levels, age group, type of mobile device we carry, etc. all in an attempt to justify our existence and know where we stand in the cultural value system we all tend to ascribe to.
The reason it is important to understand that truth is because when we assign value, or status, to those things we inherently moralize them and subtly create a hierarchical standing in our minds around who is more or less valuable than others. This moralization, by definition, leads to divisiveness, dehumanizing, and villainizing of others because in order to maintain the value we have assigned to one group means we have to simultaneously devalue another group, and because that group wants to maintain their value as well, they fight back by villainizing and dehumanizing the first group.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
How would you say Scripture describes the relationship between the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit?
What do you think it looks like for humans to reflect that kind of relationship and unity with one another?
What makes achieving that kind of loving unity so difficult?
“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
What does Paul mean when he says, “you have put on Christ?” What does that mean about our identity?
How does having our identity rooted primarily in Christ enable us to have unity within our diversity, to love one another even in the midst of our differences?
With that in mind, how should we approach this political season and election?
If the thought of loving and serving someone who might vote for the person you would never vote for is something you have a hard time stomaching, then what does tell you about where you’re finding your identity and worth?
What needs to happen to reconcile that reality back to who Jesus has called you to be?
The Greek word for “put on” literally means to be clothed in, to sink into a garment. It is painting the picture that when someone looks at you all that see is the thing you have covered yourself with. In the same way we, today, put on designer jeans, name brand shoes and shirts in an attempt to look good for others, to gain the compliments about what we are wearing, to solicit the question of, “I love that, Where did you get it?” There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to look good for others, but this is the concept Paul is giving us here. He is saying in the same way that some will put on a new tunic, or clothe themselves in fancy garments in an attempt to be seen and complimented by others, so we, as followers of Christ, should seek to put on Christ so that when others see us they don’s see the cultural status by which we gain cultural value, but instead they should the love and heart of Christ and see His surpassing value compared to every other identity the world tries to label us with.
This approach to our identity is the only way we can walk in true unity and love for one another. Our identity in Chris is the only identity that does not point to some perceived value we bring to the table. Instead, it points to the surpassing value of Christ who has brought us to the table by His grace and mercy, not based on anything we have done, but only on what he has done for us. This means we are all on equal level as sinners in need of God’s grace. Therefore, we do not need to gain approval from others because there is not greater approval than the King of the Universe telling us He loves us and accepts us in the midst of all our shortcomings and failures. When we realize that, then, and only then, can we truly love others unconditionally, expecting nothing in return.
Let’s take some time to pray for our own hearts, as well as for our church and nation.