23 Aug Discussion Guide: One Another – Week 5
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.
Serve One Another
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”
“If you notice, the moral law in the other legal codes separates people (the Laws of Manu, the caste system, the Code of Hammurabi with the slave/owner distinction). In Islam, the violator is inferior to the obedient one. By contrast, in the Hebrew-Christian tradition, the law unifies people. No one is made righteous before God by keeping the law. It is only following redemption that we can truly understand the moral law for what it is—a mirror that indicts and calls the heart to seek God’s help. This makes moral reasoning the fruit of spiritual understanding and not the cause of it.”
What is the basic principle of all religion?
How can that mindset lead to one group diminishing, or even oppressing, another group? Can you give some examples?
Why do you think people would choose religion over what it means to truly follow Jesus?
The basic principle of all religion is the desire to know where you stand with God, or with the gods. In one form or another, every religion in the world simply provides us with a list of do’s and don’ts by which we can gauge how good we are in the eyes of the deity we have chosen to pursue. Religion provides the mechanism by which we climb the spiritual ladder until we have reached the top as defined by that particular set of rules and observances.
This mindset has lead to the diminishing and/or oppression of people groups throughout world history. From the Egyptians and their form of slavery and caste systems, to Rome and their social class system, to India’s caste system, to Nazi Germany and Hitler’s view of the Arian nation that justified the murder of 6 million Jews, to even many so called Christian “churches” today that simply slap the name of Christ on their own moralistic deism in an attempt to prove their own righteousness as compared to all the “bad sinners” out there in the world. Religion has contributed to various forms of racism, genocide, wars, and slavery throughout history because, from the religious mindset, the only way you can truly know that God, or the gods, approve of you is not only by jumping through all the moral hoops, but simultaneously being able to look down your nose at “those people” who are not as righteous, awesome, or “holy” as you are. And, once you have determined who those people are, then your higher standing with God gives you permission to treat others they way you feel they deserve to be treated for not being like you.
The reason people will choose the route of religion over truly following Jesus is because the grace of the Gospel takes away your ability to control the god whom you seek. It takes away your ability to gauge where you stand in comparison to others based on your performance, and because it is so difficult to believe that God could actually love you unconditionally, the way the Gospel tells us He does, we would rather chase after the false sense of stability and predictability religion promises to provide us.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
What does it look like to love the following people in the same way Jesus has loved you:
- Someone of a different ethnicity?
- Someone of a different political party?
- The person who has offended or hurt you?
- The poor?
- Your neighbor next door or across the street?
What, if anything, is keeping you from loving that person in that way?
What is the Holy Spirit saying is the next right thing for you to do in that relationship?
Are you willing to do that? Can we, as a group, help you with that in some way?
The kind of love Jesus is calling us to in this passage is an incarnational love. It is a love that seeks to enter into the world of another. It is a love that seeks to empathize and sympathize with the pain and perspectives of another. It’s a love that seeks to reconcile and fight for unity. It’s a love that looks for ways to serve and elevate the status of others.
To love someone of a different ethnicity in that way would mean seeking to better understand their experience in our nation, their struggles, their joys, their perceptions in a way that allows you to appreciate and value those perceptions even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. It means seeking to serve that person in a way that the know you love them for who God has made them to be and not for some future version of them that you have conjured up in your own mind.
To love someone from a different political party looks pretty much the same. It is seeking to walk in unity as God’s image-bearers at least, and as brothers/sisters in Christ if that person is also a follower of Jesus. It means basing the relationship on that greater commonality rather than on the lesser differences in political views. It means seeking to understand why that person views the world the way he/she does and seeing if there might be something gained by learning from that perspective.
Loving the person who has offended you or hurt you means going to that person in humility and grace seeking to reconcile, to forgive, to fight for that relationship. It means understanding that the pain they have caused you is likely coming from a place of pain in their own life and that the lovingkindness of God is what will lead them to repentance, not the vengeful and sharp-tongued words on a social media post. In short it means responding to them in their offending you the same way Jesus responded to you in your offending Him. It’s a crucified kind of love that longs to be reconciled rather than right.
Loving others the way Christ has loved us is incredibly difficult because everything in us wants to be proven right and justified in our anger and resentment. But, that is just another form of religion, a desire in our hearts to prove that we are morally superior to that person so we can know that we are worthy of love, that we are significant. The Gospel calls us to pursue the opposite. The Gospel calls us to pursue love over self-preservation. It calls us to pursue the glory of God (reflecting who He is to the world) over our own glory. It calls us to die to ourselves so that Christ might live in and through us. This is what it means to follow Jesus, and if our hearts are arguing against that then the problem isn’t with someone else, it’s with us. We have to truly ask ourselves, “Am I willing to follow Jesus to the cross?” Because that is what it takes if we are going to make it through the testing of our faith in this moment in history.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
What kind of impact might we have on the world if we loved and served others in this way?
What kind of impact might we have on the world if we don’t love and serve others in this way?
Today, more than ever in our lifetime, the power of the Gospel in our lives, and what we prioritize, is being put to the test. Let’s take a few minutes to just let the Holy Spirit speak to us and lead us in where we might need to recenter ourselves on Jesus and His Word.
If you feel comfortable enough doing so, would anyone like to share what the Lord spoke to them?