14 Jun Discussion Guide: We Were Made for 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 continue our new series titled We Where Made For This. We will be studying through the book of James. James was the brother of Jesus who came to be one of His most devoted disciples and the leader of the church in Jerusalem. What would inspire a man to worship his own brother as God and follow Him to his own death? The same thing that can inspire us to follow Jesus with that same fervency. What was that? What did James come to realize? Let’s find out together as we take a look at what God has made us for. Today we will see that…
We are made for justice.
What does it mean to show partiality towards others? And, have you ever been on the receiving end of that kind of treatment, either positively or negatively?
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
Why might someone show partiality towards a certain person, or a certain people group?
What would you say is the motivation behind that kind of behavior?
How does that motivation ultimately affect the life of that person? How does it affect our society and culture?
Partiality ultimately grows out of a root of fear and insecurity. When a person fears he/she are going to be on the outside looking in, that he/she is going to be in a position of being powerless rather than having power, then that person seeks to use whatever means necessary to gain favor with the person, or people, who are in the position of power. This has happened throughout human history. From the famous line, “Et tu Bruté,” to our modern-day political arena, people have been jockeying for position, seeking to scheme and manipulate, doing whatever we can to either achieve power ourselves or at least gain favor with those who have already achieved power. It is a selfish and self-seeking game we play.
The issue here isn’t just that this kind of selfish scheming oppresses those not like ourselves, but it also imprisons us to our own fears. If I want to be a person of power and influence then that means I have to impress and persuade the people who are in the position of power and influence. To do that, means I have to become like those people, affirm what they affirm, like what they like, speak how they speak, believe as they believe, treat others how they treat others. To become a person of power I have to become like the people in power. Which means I must continue on two simultaneous paths. One, I must continue to become more and more of what those people want me to become, and in the process, I lose more and more of who God has actually called me to be. Second, I have to distance myself more and more from the people who are not seen as powerful and influential, which means I must seek to push those people further and further down in order to make myself look better in the eyes of the influential.
This kind of pursuit serves both to tear apart our society while simultaneously enslaving me to the perceptions and opinions of others. This leads to the ongoing hardening of our hearts towards others as well as towards ourselves. This pursuit of partiality erodes our ability to feel compassion, empathy, sympathy, and love for others. It forms a, “pick yourself up by your bootstraps,” mentality that tends to think others just need work as hard as I do and be as smart as I am. I mean, if I can achieve this status then they can to and the reason they haven’t is that they’re just not as awesome as I am. In the end, we lose the very things that make us truly human and we become just another cog in the machine of destruction Satan pulled the starter chord on back in the Garden of Eden.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Strength to Love
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
What is the difference between love and hate?
What is the difference between loving someone and not hating someone?
If partiality brings about destruction, how might love bring about healing and unity?
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
What did Jesus do with His position of power, privilege, and influence?
How does knowing Jesus willingly did that for you make you feel?
Jesus used His position of power, privilege, and influence to step into the world of the oppressed, the weak, the enslaved in order to learn our language, eat our food, wear our clothes, suffer what we suffer, bear our burdens, and rescue us from the oppression of sin. But, He didn’t just stop there. As Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that we are now, “seated with Christ in Heavenly places.” Meaning, Jesus didn’t just come to be with us in the brokenness of our world, He also used His power and privilege to elevate us to His status. In other words, Jesus didn’t use His power for the purpose of continuing to elevate Himself while keeping everyone else on the underside of power. No, He used His power to raise the status of others, to invite us into what He had in right standing with God the Father. The reality is that we all carry with us some kind of privilege, some form of power. Especially those of us who are followers of Christ. In Phillipians 1:29 Pauls says, “For it has been granted to you (given the privilege) that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…” As the adopted children of God we have a status and a privilege. We also each have some form of privilege in our culture today, a position of influence that others don’t have depending on who we are and where we come from. The question isn’t do we have privilege, but what are we going to do with our privilege?
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
How can be a reflection of that kind of Kingdom love to the world around us?