15 Nov Discussion Guide: Such A Time As This – 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 begin a new series that will take us through one of the most interesting books and stories in the Old Testament; the story of Esther. Over the next few weeks we will see how God sovereignly orchestrates painful, scary, and difficult circumstances to actually bring about the deliverance of His people. If there were ever a time where we were needing to be reminded of that Truth, 2020 is it. So, I want to encourage us all to jump in and contribute to the discussion as we let Scripture remind us that what the enemy meant for evil, God has purposed for good, and that He is allowing us to experience what we are experiencing this year because He has a good and loving purpose for our lives, and has called us for…Such a Time as This.
For the Love of Haman
“Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away.”
“After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage…
So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews.”
How would you say the history of Haman’s and Mordecai’s lineage might have played into the tension and animosity they felt towards one another?
When you think of the sorted history, and many conflicts, of our nation (i.e. Trail of Tears, American Revolution, Transatlantic Slave Trade, Civil War, Jim Crow Laws, Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, Cold War, 9/11, Immigration Laws, etc.), do you think that history affects our present day culture and relationships? If so, how?
What do you think is the best way for us to move forward as a nation, united, in light of that history?
What will it take from you (each of us individually) to accomplish that?
The past inevitably plays a role in our relationships and interactions with others. Obviously, our personal experiences shape the way we view and respond to others, but historical narratives and events have an impact on our interactions with one another as well. The stories we are told growing up about people and people groups shape the presuppositions we carry into those moments we engage in relationship, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.
In the case of Mordecai and Haman there was an ancient history of racism, war, mockery, and animosity. Their ancestors had literally gone to war against each other and the Benjamite, King Saul (Mordacai’s ancestor) defeated and enslaved Agag, the King of the Amalekites (Haman’s ancestor). In ancient culture those stories would have been handed down generation after generation and when Mordecai and Haman recognized that familiar heritage the tension and all their presuppositions towards one another came out.
We cannot deny this reality when it comes to our own nation and culture. We’ve all grown up hearing some kind of narrative or story when it comes to not only the history of our country, but different people groups within that history. I (Brett) remember, as a young boy, listening to my uncles and cousins on my dad’s side, who lived in South Georgia, make racist jokes and comments about different people groups. I also remember, as the only white guy at the running back position at UGA, hearing my black teammates describe the presuppositions and stories they were told about white people, and how that affected the way they interacted with them. For better or worse, we all have assumptions we cary with us, and many of those assumptions tend to be rooted in some kind of pain or fear that has also been passed down from generation to generation.
The question is, what do we do with that? As followers of Jesus, whose identities are rooted in the unconditional love of Christ, we should be able to acknowledge the pain and fear that has been passed down and the reasons that pain and fear exists, talk through those narratives in order to repent where repentance is needed and forgive where forgiveness is needed, and then love one another as the fellow image-bearers of God that we are. But, to do that requires great humility, sacrificial love, and a commitment to continually fight for unity as one people.
“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.”
Where, in your sphere of influence, do you operate under the authority of another?
Where, in your sphere of influence, do you operate in a place of power or authority?
How do you think God wants us to use the authority He has given us in those areas?
How does your answer to the previous question line up with, or differ from, the way you lead or the way you are lead?
“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.”
How does the Gospel empower us to both address the tensions of our past, and lovingly serve one another in our present?
In light of our discussion, what is something you feel God might be asking you to do?