people united in Him

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church‘s LIFE groups tomorrow night. This discussion guide works the same subjects and primary texts as the Sunday morning sermon. You’ll find these guides categorized each week under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To see that the church that Jesus seeks to build his hope-filled, servant-like people into is a one of unity, not uniformity, and that God, no one or nothing else, is to be at the center of our lives.

Scripture

“I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are intended to get all of us talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. If you were to play an instrument in an orchestra or band, what instrument do you believe you would be most suited to play and why?

2. Describe a time when your lack of focus, or your being given over to inattention, cost you.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple directly with the sermon’s primary Scripture text (John 17:20-23).

1. What does Jesus mean in vs. 21 when he prays that believers “will be in us” (Father and Son)?

2. What is the “glory” Jesus has given us as believers so that we can be one in him and the Father (vs.22)?

3. Jesus says believers will be made “perfectly one” (vs.23a). Has his prayer been answered?

4. What can happen only when believers behave as one (vs.20,21b,23b)?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. What do you think about the statement “If we disagree we must divide?” Do you consider this a false narrative?

2. What does it mean to stay “centered” on Christ? What would such look like and sound like?

3. Why is it so very easy for someone (or something) other than Christ to become the focal point of Christ’s people?

4. What are some focal points individual Christians, or groups of Christians, sometimes mistakenly seek instead of Christ?

5. Is it realistic, or even desirable, for all Christians everywhere to be exactly alike in terms of belief and practice? Explain.

6. Christianity, in the broadest sense of the term, is divided into thousands of denominations or groups, and that’s just in the United States. How do you tend to see this, like a concert or more like chaos?

7. Engage this statement: “Biblically speaking, as a church we can’t ‘create’ unity nor are we called to ‘make’ it, rather we are called to ‘keep’ it.” What is the difference between ‘creating’ and ‘keeping’ unity?

8. What in Scripture speaks strongly to you that God enjoys both unity and diversity?

9. There is a vast difference between uniformity and unity. How is it we humans seem prone to expect, seek, and try to develop uniformity instead of unity? What is behind this drive?

10. What are some of the deadly consequences of Christians seeking uniformity in place of unity? For individual Christians? For congregations? For the wider community of Christian faith? For those yet to believe?

11. Describe a moment when you experienced a profound sense of unity among a diverse group of Christians. What benefits came from such?

12. As a group, brainstorm how our love for those with whom we differ in the Lord can be encouraged?

13. On a scale of 0-10, how would you rank your passion for keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace among those who declare “Jesus is Lord?” Answer not with your desire in mind, but with your deeds and doings in view.

14. What will you do this week to help facilitate the growth of oneness among God’s people here?

this went thru my mind

Archaeology: Graffiti is not a new thing. Archaeologists Unscramble Ancient Graffiti in Israel is fascinating to me.

ChurchHow’s Your Church Doing? by John Ortberg.

Church conflict: Amen, Joe McKeever. Curing a Church Conflict Before It Starts.

Church music: A Variety of Religious Composition by Lawrence Mumford.

Drinking: If you’d like to see some of the latest statistics on drunk driving, check out this infographic.

Environment: Eugene Peterson never fails to give me good food for thought. This interview of Eugene Peterson and Peter Harris (The Joyful Environmentalists) is good stuff.

Humor: I’ll never forget the day my friend Brent Franks introduced me to the V-neck T-shirt, the memory of which makes Jon Acuff’s post V-Neck Syndrome all the funnier to me. Don’t stop there; read his more serious post entitled Complaining.

Islam: Joshua Graves’ brief post Crescent and Cross is required reading. The second paragraph is spot-on and needed to be said. While on Joshua’s site, also read his excellent, brief post entitled What About You?

Note-taking: Want some guidance as to how to take good notes during a sermon? Peter Mead offers some solid advice I bet you’ve never heard before. It was new to me. If You Must Take Notes.

Parenting: N.T. Wright is one of my favorite Bible scholars, actually my very favorite outside of the heritage of Churches of Christ. His 3 1/2 minute video entitled Look At Jesus captures him, at his best, answering a crucial question the way I would hope to answer it, but of course, I could never express it nearly so well as he does here. Enjoy, be moved deep within, and share. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/ma4OGY

Regret: If you had a great deal of experience in closely working with the dying, you would hear their life regrets verbalized. What do you suppose the dying tend to regret most about their life? A post by Wade Hodges steered me toward a piece by Bonnie Ware entitled Regrets of the Dying will tell you. Serious food for thought.

Sexuality: Let’s not pretend that lust is always someone else’s problem or that it’s all on the woman. Dan Martin does us all a good service by speaking clearly, candidly, and kindly regarding lust and clothing in his post entitled To My Younger Sisters

Vocabulary: Did you notice how Dan Martin, in the preceding entry, is at pains not to miscommunicate? The words we choose to use make a difference. Words that communicated well twenty years ago can convey something entirely different, perhaps even undesirable, today. This is especially tricky ground for those of us who have some gray hair for we’ve grown accustomed to certain words and they work well for us. However, by using what works well for our mind, rather than deliberately starting with others in mind, we, at best, miscommunicate. Sometimes we even build walls unwittingly by our poor choice of words. An example: “committee” sounds like a “neutral” or even “constructive” word to those in their 60’s, but is virtually a guaranteed turn-off to those under age 35. Kem Meyer’s six-year old post In Other Words succinctly captures one church’s attempt to be deliberate in updating the language it uses. Good stuff. Adopt the list.