09 Aug Discussion Guide: One Another – Week 3
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 that, in light of all that is going on in our world today, couldn’t have come at a better time. We will be looking at some of the different commands in Scripture that call us to “one another” one another. Serve one another, encourage one another, sharpen one another, seek to outdo one another in showing honor, and above all, love one another, are just a few of the things Jesus and the New Testament writers command us to do in our dealings with one another. Of course those things are easier said than done, but why is that? In this series we will be asking some tough questions and seeking the Gospel-centered solutions in how we can best “one another” one another.
Sharpen One Another
How was interpersonal conflict modeled for you when you were younger?
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
What tends to cause interpersonal conflict between people?
Why do we tend to avoid those moments?
Interpersonal conflict tends to arise when one person believes the relationship is moving in a direction that is going to cost him/her in some way physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, or socially. It happens when something is said or done that threatens our stability or comfort. Sometimes the perceived threat is legit, while at other times it is simply a perceived threat based on a misunderstanding or an incomplete gathering of information. Either way, there is a fear of rejection that rises up inside of us. Since we are made in the image and likeness of the God who is Love, rejection is our greatest fear. When that fear grips us we do what we always do in times of instability and uncertainty…we reach for something to regain that feeling of stability, to give us a sense of control in our circumstance.
The fight, flight or freeze part of our brain activates and we either attack the thing that threatens our stability, we run away and withdrawal from it, or we pretend like it doesn’t exist and become apathetic. The reason most of us tend to avoid relational conflict is because we don’t like staying in that place of stress and tension. Everything in our flesh either wants to eliminate the threat or fun away from it because we are pursuing our own self-preservation above all else.
We would rather lose the friendship than have to deal with the friend.
“Conflict, though painful, is necessary. If we will stay steady and true to the process, this process won’t destroy us, but intentional, consistent, and productive conflict, aimed at making both sides better, can make us more useful to one another and to the world.”
When you hear the words, “intentional, consistent, and productive conflict…” how do you feel? Why?
What does it look like for us to pursue intentional, consistent, and productive conflict?
If fear is what keeps us from embracing that Biblical call, what do you think can motivate us to actually embrace it?
How can embracing that tension and intentionally leaning into that place of conflict help conform you to the image of Christ?
If the fear of rejection is what makes us want to either attack or run away from the person that represents that threat, then the only thing that can motivate us to intentionally and purposefully engage in that tension is love. Scripture tells us that, “Perfect love casts out all fear (1 Jn. 4:18).” Love is the only force powerful enough to free us from our fears. This is the very purpose and goal of the Gospel. Jesus didn’t come to live, die, and rise again just so we could go to Heaven when we die. He came to reconcile us back to our relationship with the Father so that we might once again know and walk in His unconditional love for us and be reconciled back to our image-bearing, God-reflecting, purpose so that Heaven might come back to earth. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us to pray? “Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The whole point of the Gospel is that God reconciles humans back to their image-bearing purpose, so that through humanity He might reconcile creation back to its original purpose as well. This ministry of reconciliation includes relationships between us and others as well. To reflect who God is to others is to reflect the love that pursued you in unconditional and unwavering commitment when you had ultimately offended and rejected Him. In response to that love we are not called to pursue those who have offended and rejected us with that same unconditional and unwavering commitment to love. In doing so, you will see all the idols and deceptive fears that lie dormant in your heart rise to the surface so they can be dealt with by the grace of God and resurrection power of Christ. You never look more like Jesus than in the moment you are willing to sacrificially love the person who poses the greatest threat to your status and comfort.
This is costly work. It will force you to have to acknowledge and deal with all the fears and lies and insecurities you have tried to keep tucked away for years of your life. You will be forced to confront those places in your heart in an all out war. But the victory is already won, it’s already guaranteed through Christ’s love for you demonstrated on the cross and proven by the empty tomb. When you are enslaved by something freedom is alway going to require a fight. The slave master never willingly lets his slaves go free. Satan, death, and fear are no different. We have to be willing to fight the fight of love if we want to be truly free from our oppressors.
C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Love of enemy, the ministry of reconciliation, stepping into a place that feels like death in order to see the power of resurrection life burst forth, this is the call of the Gospel. This is the kind of people we are called to be as followers of Jesus. It is in moments like this where we see what’s really inside of us, what our top priority in life truly is. When push comes to shove and the fear of tension and conflict rears its ugly head, do we pull away in self-preservation or do we press in with sacrificial love? When we get squeezed, what comes out? If what comes out is something other than the love of Christ then we can be sure there is an idol lying dormant in our hearts that has awoken to ensure we remain enslaved.
“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.”
“Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both we are disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all.
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
If we are able to handle conflict in this way, and truly seek to sharpen one another in love, what might that communicate to the world about Jesus and His Kingdom?
Putting ourselves in the position of intentional, consistent, and productive conflict with others is a costly thing to do. Is Jesus worth paying that price to you?
As a group, I’d love for us to commit to one another that when conflict arises, or tension is present, we are going to lean into that place and sharpen one another, rather than push away from the table and retreat to a place of comfort.
Are we willing to commit to one another like that? If so, how can we do that? If not, what would you say is keeping you from being willing to step into that place?