Discussion Guide: The Art of Neighboring Week 6

Discussion Guide: The Art of Neighboring Week 6

Getting Started

What “Next Steps” did you take over the past week in attempting to connect with your neighbors? How did that go?

Take some time to pray for your neighborhoods/neighbors as we begin this series. Ask God to open doors and give you a heart and a desire to love your neighbors as you love yourself.

To begin the discussion, watch The Art of Neighboring video for week 6.

Discussion Questions

What was your big take away from this week’s reading and/or video? What stuck out to you? What did you like? What was difficult or confusing?

Romans 12:17-18

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

What does it mean to be a peacemaker?

Leader Notes
To be a peacemaker is more than just not getting in fights with people. To be a peacemaker means you look for areas where peace is lacking and you intervene in such a way that the conflict and tension are resolved. To be a peacemaker means you engage the world around you in such a way that you both know where conflict exists, but also you have the respect and reputation from others that they give you space to speak into that conflict.

How is our being peacemakers connected to our being called children of God?

Leader Notes
In a first century cultural context to be called the son of a father was more than just a reference to the fact that the man you call father had biologically contributed to your existence. Even more than that, it was a reference to the fact that you represented that man well. That is why the parable of the prodigal son was so shocking. Jesus’ original hearers would have expected the father in the story to disown his wayward boy. That’s why when the boy comes to his senses and rehearses his apology, it includes the phrase, “I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.” To be called the child of a father meant that you represented what he stood for, you were about your father’s business. So, if people saw you living in such a way that did that, that was an accurate reflection of who your father was, they would call you the son of (fill in the blank). What Jesus is saying in Matthew 5 is that when we live as peacemakers we are accurately reflecting who God is to the world around us and they will begin to recognize that the reason we live that way is because we are about our Father’s business, we are accurately reflecting who He is.

How does the Gospel model the peacemaking heart of God?

Leader Notes
Romans 5:1 says, “We have been justified by faith, we have peace with God, and access into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” In our sin, we have rebelled against God, we have committed an act of treason against the King of the Universe. We have ultimately offended the Ultimate Being. And God has every right to enact His justice and wrath on us. That is the quintessential definition of what it means to not be at peace with someone. And yet, God in His mercy and grace, and in His desire to bring His peace into our heart and into our relationship with Him, entered into that conflict by taking on our burdens, and solving the problem by dying in our place for our sin. He removed the conflict by paying the debt we could not pay. This is also why Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in so doing fulfill the Law of Christ.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

What role does forgiveness play in the ability to be a peacemaker?

Leader Notes
As long as a person feels they are owed a debt by another there will never be peace in that relationship. Forgiveness is saying that the debt has been paid, even if that means you paying it yourself, and therefore there is no need to feel at odds or at tension with one another.

How have you seen forgiveness towards someone restore your friendship with that person?

C.S. Lewis

”I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says, “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us will be exactly as it was before.” But excusing says, “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.” If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive…What we call “asking God’s forgiveness: very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses.”

Have you ever had a conflict with a neighbor, or ever seen conflict between two neighbors? How could that situation have been handled differently?

Are you aware of any conflicts in your neighborhood that currently exist? What might you be able to do to bring peace into that situation?

Moving Forward

At the conclusion of each gathering we will do 3 things. Often groups lose track of time and end up rushing through the second half of the content. We strongly believe that these 3 exercises are the most important part of this study. If you only have time to do one section each week…do this one!

Do the Block Map – Take out the block map and fill it in right now… just start with the names of your neighbors. Download Block Map here.

Leader Notes

Go around the room and share how many of the names you knew? Did you have any epiphanies as you did this exercise? What did you learn or feel as a result of doing this exercise? Most people naturally feel a little guilty when they realize how little they know about their neighbors. Allow people to feel what they feel, but this is definitely NOT the time to try to make people feel guilty or that they are not doing enough. Allow God to work on people in HIS timing. As a host you might feel like you should know more of your neighbors since you are a host. Avoid that temptation. We are all on this journey together and we all have room to grow. Let people see you are real and honest and that you don’t have it all figured out either. Your group will trust you more for your honesty! Write the names of your neighbors by listing out the names of the adults and children of the 8 closest houses or apartment units next to you. Pay attention to the blank spaces Take a second and identify each of the neighbors and decide if they are a stranger, acquaintance, or relationship.

Identify one neighbor that you are going to pray for during the next week. Take time to pray in the group for the neighbors that were mentioned.

Share one small “next step” that you feel God is calling you to take in the next 7 days.

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