The objective of our Life Group meetings is to have “level-three conversation.” We want to serve one another by getting to the heart of the matter, whatever the matter is. A few key ingredients for this is, first, knowing one another. We’ve called this “Remembering our stories.” What has God saved you from — what is he saving you from? Eventually we want to be at a place where we all could explain this for one another.
The second ingredient is good, old-fashioned listening. Simply listen well. Expect to hear more than you’ll speak. Ask follow-up questions. Don’t be content with generalities. The heart-level is rarely the surface-level.
And finally, “speak the truth in love.” That means share the gospel. Evangelize one another. How does the cross and victory of Jesus impact our issues? What does the gospel say about our identity? Who are we really? How do our actions expose our faith?
Those are categories, but it’s not math. It’s not a paint-by-numbers sort of thing. Every group is different and the dynamics are constantly changing. When it gets down to it, we’re just trying to do relational discipleship — people who have been changed by Jesus are following him together. And the biggest help of all is the Spirit who lives within us.
These questions are designed to be sparks. They’re little flickers that are meant to serve your group and open doors for the Spirit to work. I hope you’ll make use of them as you find them useful.
The sparks this week come from Pastor Joe’s sermon, “Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment.”
Pastor Joe said that “Worldly Partiality” — showing favor to people with external signals of wealth and power — is so common and normal that we rarely think of it as sin.
Do you think this kind of favoritism is normal? If so, why? Why is it so widely accepted? What are some examples that you have seen? What does it suggest about the human heart? What does is suggest about the value of men and woman?
Pastor Joe said that the main point of James 2:1–13 is that “Trusting in Jesus is utterly incompatible with favoritism and partiality.”
Why do you think that’s the case? What makes showing favoritism so contrary to faith in the gospel? If it is a normal part of life, why must Christians live so differently?
Showing favoritism is evil because it places a utilitarian value on humans created in the image of God. It denies the reality that our worth is given to us from God, and instead it sizes people up based upon what they can do for me. At root, favoritism replaces God with the Self-as-god, and therefore it operates under an entirely different system. We typically think of how this affects our view of others, but what about how we view ourselves?
Should it surprise you if those who struggle with showing favoritism also struggle with work-righteousness (trying to earn salvation by works)? How would you explain the connection between the two?
How does the gospel heal this shared brokenness?
Toward the end of the sermon, Pastor Joe explained personal gospel renewal as . . .
. . . really believing that God is for you, and that he will meet all of your needs, and that you don’t need to use people to get what you want because you know that God accepts and approves and embraces you because of Jesus alone.
Then Joe asked us to imagine that version of ourselves — the gospel-renewed version. He called it the “gospel-you.” Then he asked: What would that person do in such and such a situation?
What are some of the hard situations you’re facing right now? What are some of the tough scenarios that you’ve unwittingly found yourself in? Now, what would the gospel-you do?