Discussion Questions on Idolatry and Ingratitude

Here’s the latest set of Life Group discussion questions. Their goal is to guide you into level-three conversation by using the latest sermon, “Idolatry and Ingratitude.” 

This sermon serves as a starting place for honest dialogue about our faith in the gospel amid the complexities of life. In case you missed the sermon, I’ve tried to provide enough content to get everyone on the same page (you can also listen to the entire sermon online). As you’ll see, the questions are set up in clusters and subdivided by letters, each as a follow up to the one before it, moving from theoretical to practical. 

I’ve worked with Pastor Joe to arrange the questions this week. He sent me a handful of points that he thought would be good to discuss. Feel free to throw in any extra questions that come to mind, or skip what seems out of place. The plan for these questions is that they help guide your time together, not consume the entire thing. So I encourage you to use the questions as they are helpful, and then fill in the rest. 

Question 1

Pastor Joe began the application section of his sermon by talking about how Romans 1 helps him find a clearer view of himself. He laid out the following syllogism:

  1. Made things make invisible attributes about God visible. 
  2. You are a made thing.
  3. Therefore, you make invisible attributes about God visible. 

This entire series, “The Things of Earth,” is built on the truth that God makes himself known through creation — through created things. And if we are created things, then God must also make himself known through us. This is worth thinking more about, but first, what does it mean to be a “made” thing?

  • A: What does it mean to be a creature? Spend some time discussing its implications.
  • B: The late John Webster writes that sin is the essentially “the despising of our creatureliness.” What is the connection between the two? How is sin despising our creatureliness?
To be a sinner is to repudiate [our] relation [to God], and so absolutely to imperil one’s life by seeking to transcend creatureliness and become one’s origin and one’s own end.
— John Webster

Question 2

Pastor Joe continues, 

You are a word from God. God means something through you. You are communication from God about God, just like the heavens. Your conduct, your life is itself a kind of divine speech. It is revelation from God, designed by him to show the world what he is like. Here’s how this challenges me. Will I tell the truth about God or will I lie? Will God teach others about himself through me by way of comparison or contrast? 

Everyone is going to glorify God, one way or another. Either he will point at us and say, “I am something like that. That, even with all of the flaws, is a little mini picture of what I’m like.” Or, he will point at us and say, “That’s the opposite of what I’m like. I’m not that kind of husband. I’m not the kind of father. I’m not that kind of friend.” 

This is the fundamental Choice that confronts us daily. Will we show the world what God is like, in all our words and all our deeds? 

Think about your everyday life for a moment. See yourself going through your normal routines, your typical interactions, your ordinary circumstances. Now think about what Pastor Joe says, that either God will point at us and say “I am something like that” or “That’s the opposite of what I’m like.” 

  • A: In what scenario do you feel like God says through you: That’s the opposite of what I’m like?
  • B: What are some examples of how you have seen what God is like through other people?

Question 3

God is everywhere and he reveals everywhere, and worship is for all of life. And at the same time, we understand that corporate worship and personal Bible reading and prayer are significant. Pastor Joe has called these “direct Godwardness,” or as he said in the latest sermon, “anchor points.” When it comes to their place in the Christian life, Pastor Joe gave the following illustration

When it comes to seeing with my physical eyes, I find that I can really intensely focus on only one thing at once. While there may be a lot within my field of vision, my eyes truly focus only on one thing. My eyes may move around frequently and rapidly— from this person to that person, from the podium to the clock—but I’m always looking at essentially one thing at a time. What’s more, while I can see a lot of what’s in front of me because of the quickness of my eyes and the reality of peripheral vision, the one thing I can’t see is what’s behind me. 

Applying these principles of physical vision to mental and spiritual vision, we might say that we can mentally and intentionally focus on one thing at a time, even as we dart our mind’s eye around our mental sky. My spiritual eyes can focus specifically on the triune God (direct Godwardness) and they can gaze around at everything else in front of me (indirect Godwardness). The goal, however, is that God always remain in front of me. Indeed, the goal is that he’s always close to the center of my vision. Even when he’s not the direct object of my attention, he’s right there; he’s present and I never turn my back to him. 

  • A: When are the moments in your day that you feel like are the easiest for you to lose sight of God, when he is farthest from the center of your vision? When are those moments when it feels like you have turned your back to him, or when you can see him at all?
  • B: What are some practical ideas for keeping God closer to the center of your vision? How can we as a Life Group encourage and help one another in experiencing more of God’s nearness in our lives?