There will be a story told about us, and that story is not written by accident. God is very intentional about the outcome of our story. Are we? Do we intentionally partner with Him as He writes His story through us? Or, do we hope we will just drift into it? When have you ever drifted into exactly the place you want to be in life?
Listen to this week’s podcast episode right here.
Lifegroup discussion questions are after the break!
If you are the leader, have everyone in your group open this page on their mobile device and follow along. Allow others in your group to read questions and verses aloud. Remind them that we are discussing this week’s message, and that they can always prepare ahead of time by listening to the podcast at the link above.
What do you like about your lifegroup? What made you decide to join this group?
We usually think of being in community with other believers as being something that meets our own individual needs, don’t we? Is that wrong? Why or why not?
John, the apostle, was pretty clear that the gospel had unifying results in our lives…
We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. -1 John 1:1-4
So, the gospel results in our ability to have fellowship with each other. If that is so, why do so many believers avoid it? Why are so many all about the Sunday morning-only version of christianity?
Is that okay with Jesus? In John 17, Jesus prays what many people call his “High priestly prayer,” where he specifically prays for the church… Me and you. In this prayer, he focuses in on this key:
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. -John 17:20-23
If Jesus prays for something, don’t you think it was pretty important to him? How does this influence how you understand Paul’s words to the church at Philippi, which we are studying during this message series?
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. -Philippians 1:27
Is this our story? Do we place a high priority (“Above all”) on living gospel-worthy lives by standing together with one spirit and one purpose? To we pursue peace with our christian brothers and sisters? Do we fight for unity?
In my experience, people are easily offended. They get their feelings hurt, usually by something small… a poorly-chosen comment, a personal disappointment, a disagreement about a minor issue. They get hurt and they choose to walk away from their relationships with their christian brothers and sisters, rather than pursue peace. It is just easier to run, isn’t it? Is this the advice Jesus gives?
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.” -Matthew 18:15-17
Jesus tells us to deal with it. To get it out in the open and to work it out! That is what mature believers do. Is that what we do? Here are some practical steps to fight for unity within the Body of Christ.
Look for grace, rather than weakness
It is easy to find fault in someone else… Especially when we are hurt ourselves. Instead, remember that the person you are dealing with is loved by God, forgiven by Jesus, and is most likely doing the best they can just like you are. All of us fail from time to time, give grace to others like you hope they will give grace to you.
Meditate on God’s commands to love
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. -John 15:12
Also Romans 13:8, Hebrews 13:1, John 4:7, 1 Peter 1:22 and more.
It is very easy to be wounded and to act out in hurt, to seek venegeance, or to just plain hate.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2
This is the Gospel working through us! (2 Corinthians 5:18–6:10) Remember, it is only Satan’s gain when we won’t walk with each other.
Always pursue humility.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. -Philippians 2:3-5