LIFE group guide: unity visualized (aka: body imaging)

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (July 20) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To consider the heart of our role in maintaining the unity we experience in Christ Jesus.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12.12-27 NIV)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. How has your physical body changed through the years?

2. There’s plenty of humor in the text above. What other Biblical texts do you find humorous?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Examine 1 Cor. 12.12-27. What specifically is the Spirit depicted as doing? God the Father?

2. In the text above, where does the sin of pride make an appearance? Disdain? Scorn? Shame?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. This text got penned because some church members were putting other members down. So?

2. Christ’s church is an interdependent organism and its diversity is a God-given essential. How?

3. How is diversity without unity a bad thing? Similarly, unity without diversity?

4. MoSt Church is Christ’s body (a part of it, that is). As a member of it, what body part are you?

5. “… parts should have equal concern for each other.” When achieved, what does that look like?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Thoughtfully assess what you have to offer to the good, benefit, and strengthening of MoSt.

2. Rein in your speech, and your thoughts, as to how you view and speak of other members.

this went thru my mind

 

Art: Isn’t That King David? Nope, It’s Just Dave

“I know that putting modern clothes on classical sculptures isn’t a new idea. Michelangelo’s David has had modern clothes for years. But the skirts, T-shirts and shorts in these images look so comfortable and fit so well, these ancients torque suddenly into moderns. It’s like these two French artists have developed a new way to time travel.”

Atheism & community: In the Bible Belt, Offering Atheists a Spiritual Home

“With Sunday’s service — marking the start of Community Mission Chapel in Lake Charles, which Mr. [Jerry] DeWitt called a full-fledged atheist “church” — he wanted to bring some of the things that he had learned from his years as a religious leader to atheists in southern Louisiana.”

Choices, discernment, ethics, & guidance: The Jesus Compass

“The acrostic stands for: * Jesus – Are any of Jesus’ sayings or actions relevant to the question? * Church – What are the teachings of different Christian churches / denominations? * Obey Conscience – What might an individual Christian’s conscience tell them to do? * Ministers & priests – How might a minister or priest advise a Christian to act? * Prayer – How might praying help a Christian to make moral decisions? * Agape – What is the most loving thing to do? * Saints – How might the lives of famous Christians inspire others to behave? * Scripture – What Biblical quotations or teachings are relevant?”

Communication, diversity, getting along, relationships & unity: 8 Ways Those From More Liberal-Progressive and Conservative-Evangelical Persuasions Can Better Love Each Other

“1.  remember first, that other person is a child of God, made in God’s image. … 2. respect each other’s biblical conclusions. … 3. lay down our ‘if they would justs…’ … 4. never pull the ‘but God says’ or ‘but it’s clear in the Bible’ card. … 5. acknowledge our own blind spots. … 6. celebrate what we do agree on. … 7. always put relationships above our positions. …  8. trust that God is big enough for our differences.”

Education, humanities & writing: The Decline and Fall of the English Major

“In 1991, 165 students graduated from Yale with a B.A. in English literature. By 2012, that number was 62. In 1991, the top two majors at Yale were history and English. In 2013, they were economics and political science. At Pomona this year, they were economics and mathematics. …

“What many undergraduates do not know — and what so many of their professors have been unable to tell them — is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.

“Maybe it takes some living to find out this truth. Whenever I teach older students, whether they’re undergraduates, graduate students or junior faculty, I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn’t acquire earlier in life. They don’t call that skill the humanities. They don’t call it literature. They call it writing — the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own.”

Love: Are You Agapephobic

“When you have a problem, ask this: How does love solve this? Every answer you find is another step toward God.”

this went thru my mind

 

Diversity & unity: A Personal Appeal for Christian Unity in Diversity by Patrick Mitchel

“… Christian unity is to act on something that is already there, given by God. Believers are one, the challenge is to act in ways that reflect that unity (and not in ways that deny that unity).”

Forgiveness: Stories of Grace, Stories of Forgiveness: Frederick Douglass Affirms the Humanity of a Slaveholder [required reading]

“The stories of grace and forgiveness that Frederick Douglass models exhibit three biblical truths regarding the notion of forgiveness as it is put into practice.”

Learning: The Learning Virtues by David Brooks

“… Westerners tend to define learning cognitively while Asians tend to define it morally. Westerners tend to see learning as something people do in order to understand and master the external world. Asians tend to see learning as an arduous process they undertake in order to cultivate virtues inside the self.”

Mentoring: Is Spiritual Mentoring a Biblical Idea? by Lynn Anderson

“… spiritual mentors are extremely important in our spiritual development. And Biblical.”

The Bible miniseries: * “The Bible” on the History Channel: Not the Absolute Train Wreck I Thought it Would Be by Pete Enns; * The Bible Series: The Consultants’ Role by Mark Goodacre

“I’m not a big fan of seeing the Bible depicted in film. The biblical narratives have a lot holes in the storyline. To adapt the Bible to film, you have to invent dialogue, whole scenes, and compress other scenes to keep the story going. … having said that, watching the show didn’t leave me feeling defiled or quite as nauseous as I assumed it would. Actually, the most troubling part of the evening was the incessant Christianmingle.com commercials. God can’t seem to get around to putting a stop to hunger and war, but he has definitely taken the time of subcontracting out to a website the means by which you can find your perfect mate. But I digress.”

“One of the reason for scholarly types to be encouraged is that the executive producers, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, did hire a large group of academic consultants.”

this went thru my mind

 

AramaicHow to Save a Dying Language

“Geoffrey Khan is racing to document Aramaic, the language of Jesus, before its native speakers vanish.”

Churches of Christ: * Churches of Christ: Our Tradition, Our Identity as Churches of Christ by David Worley ; * Churches of Christ: Why are Churches of Christ Shrinking? Part 1: A Left-Brained Fellowship in a Right-Brained World; * Why are Churches of Christ Shrinking? – Part 2: Failure to Understand that it is an Increasingly Unchurched, Post-Christian World by James Nored; * Why Do Churches of Christ Have Hope and a Future? – Part 1: A Reawakening to Ancient Faith & Practices Such as Baptism & the Lord’s Supper by James Nored

* “Didn’t we teach them?”

* “What if, instead of viewing these things as a waste of money and a threat to our church tradition, we viewed them as “speaking the language” of the people in our mission field? Is that not what missionaries do? We would fire a missionary who went overseas and never learned to speak the language of the people that he was trying to reach and who did not work through their cultural norms and cultural values. But somehow, we forget that we must do the same thing here in the US.?”

* “… what can we do to respond to our increasingly unchurched, post-Christian culture? Here are some practical suggestions.”

* “… today there is quite a bit of interest in ancient, time-tested beliefs and practices.”

Diversity: Thursday is for Thinkers: Gabriel Salguero on How Diversity Informs Spiritual Formation

“Simply put, Christians are broadened and deepened as they worship, study, do ministry, and share life-together in community. It is across difference where the most important of Christian virtues, love, is tested. … I do not believe all congregations have to be multi-ethnic and multi-class. However, I do believe that urban churches are presented with unique opportunities to model the rich diversity of the kingdom of God as seen in Isaiah 11 and Rev 7:9.”

Humility & integrity: Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 7, The Ladder of Humility by Richard Beck

“In Chapter 7 of the Rule of St. Benedict–Humility–we encounter the famous ladder of humility, the twelve steps and stages that Benedict suggests mark the road to humility.”

Immigration: * Second-Generation Americans: A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants; * Immigration Reform: An Overview from Mother Jones

* “Second-generation Americans—the 20 million adult U.S.-born children of immigrants—are substantially better off than immigrants themselves on key measures of socioeconomic attainment, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. They have higher incomes; more are college graduates and homeowners; and fewer live in poverty. In all of these measures, their characteristics resemble those of the full U.S. adult population. Hispanics and Asian Americans make up about seven-in-ten of today’s adult immigrants and about half of today’s adult second generation.”

* “What is ‘comprehensive immigration reform’? For years, this expression has been code for an immigration compromise.”

this went thru my mind

 

Aging & resentment: Pitfalls of the Pious by Dan Bouchelle

“… as you get older you learn the besetting sin of the mature is resentment.”

Bible interpretation & diversity: Musings on the Bible (1) The First of Three Questions by Patrick Mitchel

“A pressing question for thinking Christians is what to make of the ‘brute fact’ of radically divergent readings of the Bible by other Christians who share a belief in its divinely inspired origin.”

Captialism & church: Values of Capitalism & the Church by Tim Gombis

“One of the ways that capitalism has succeeded in capturing our culture’s imagination, however, is that efficiency has achieved preeminent status, overpowering all other values.”

Congress, faith & politics: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress

“The new, 113th Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none,” continuing a gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole. While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of the members belonged to Protestant denominations. … Catholics have seen the biggest gains among the 533 members … Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Mormons each make up a greater percentage of the members of Congress than of all U.S. adults. The same is true for some subgroups of Protestants, such as Episcopalians and Presbyterians. By contrast, Pentecostals are a much smaller percentage of Congress than of the general public.”

Change, humanity, identity & personality: You Can’t See It, But You’ll Be A Different Person In 10 Years by Nell Greenfieldboyce

“No matter how old people are, they seem to believe that who they are today is essentially who they’ll be tomorrow. That’s according to fresh research that suggests that people generally fail to appreciate how much their personality and values will change in the years ahead — even though they recognize that they have changed in the past.”

Christian faith, guns & non-violence: Violence: The Christian Response by K. Rex Butts

“… when it comes to a response to the problem of violence, the loudest voice is that which calls for more arms.  In fact, from where I sit this voice has great support from many Christians, something I regard as gospel failure. The American society already has enough voices advocating for more arms, so the last thing society needs is the voice of the church lending support to this cause. Though likely not so welcomed, what America needs from the church is for the church to be what the church alone is called to be and that is to be the voice of the gospel that exemplifies forgiveness, love, peace-making, and reconciliation. This is for the church to do what it is admonished to do in scripture and put off the old, putting on the new self instead, including a new mindset, and speak truthfully as one body (cf. Eph 4:22-25).”

Humility, patience & tolerance: Suffering Fools Gladly [required reading]

“… understand that the habits we put in practice end up shaping the people we are within. ‘Manners are of more importance than laws,’ Edmund Burke wrote. ‘Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.'”

Statistics & the United States: Capturing America, Fact by Fact by Sam Roberts

“College graduates have less leisure time than high school dropouts. More people are injured on toilets than by skiing or snowboarding. More households have dogs as pets than cats, but cat lovers are more likely to have multiple pets. And more foreigners visited New York (9.3 million) than any other American city (Los Angeles was a distant second with 3.7 million). Those facts are among the thousands gleaned from the 2013 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States. …

“More than 41 percent of births were to unwed mothers, for instance, compared with 33 percent a decade earlier. Student loan debt in households headed by a college graduate soared to $36,809 from $12,373 three decades earlier. Since 1982, the number of federal civilian employees rose by 160,000 while the number of state and local government workers swelled by 6.6 million.”

this went thru my mind

 

Control, influence & life: It’s a Wonderful Life, If … by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“Love does not seek to control others.”

Church: What You Don’t Like About Your Church (And why that’s good) by Daniel Darling [required reading]

“I often say to people … ‘I don’t like everything in our church. And this is good, because if everything here was geared to what I like, it would be great for me, but not-so-great for the other members.’ And so it is with you.”

Christmas: * How December 25 Became Christmas by Andrew McGowan; * Separating Fact from Fiction in the Nativity Story – Christmas Myths Exposed by Frank Viola

* “How did December 25 come to be associated with Jesus’ birthday?”

* “If you’ve ever heard the Christmas story retold or watched it dramatized on film, you may not have realized how many myths were added to the story found in the Gospels. In this piece, I address some of them.”

Muslim: Why So Many Muslims Are Angry at the West by Frank Bellizzi

“Every semester, I teach a freshmen-level course at Amarillo College titled “Introduction to World Religions.” It’s the toughest teaching assignment I have.”

Near Death Experiences (NDE): NDEs and Heaven

“The near death experience as a foreshadowing of Heaven is a beautiful theory perhaps, but wrong.”

this went thru my mind

 

Commission: Called and Commissioned by Rubel Shelly

“The idea of leaving God’s work in the hands of a few talented professionals just isn’t biblical or practical.”

Dogs: Canaan Canine Faces Threat in Israel

“First-century rock drawings in the Sinai and more than 700 fifth-century B.C.E. canine skeletons … attest to the historical prominence of the Canaan dog, a pointy eared breed that has lived in Israel since Biblical time. … An online petition is raising awareness to protect Israel’s official breed, but a court decision could mark the end of an effort to sustain the ancient pedigree.”

Health: 4 Critical Gauges for Your Life and Work by Michael Nichols

“… a friend introduced me to 4 health gauges to assess my life and work – Physical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional. For more than 20 years, Bill Hybels has talked about these 4 gauges, but this was my first experience with them.”

Military service, pacifism & the American Civil WarTolbert Fanning–Advocate for Peace in 1861 by John Mark Hicks. Links to parts onetwothreefourfivesix & seven.

“Fanning, shaped by evangelists associated with [Barton W.] Stone and mentored by Alexander Campbell … was David Lipscomb’s mentor. … Fanning was a unique theological combination of Stone and Campbell and this was the legacy he left to many leaders in Middle Tennessee. … Though … Middle Tennessee voted 88% for secession in June [1861]. In this climate, Fanning attempted to persuade his readers to choose peace.”

Parenting: Brainwashing our Kids with Religion by Jared Byas

“How do you teach your kids about Jesus but also teach them to think for themselves? … For our family, we have decided that we are Christians and that we will raise our children as Christians. But along with our personal beliefs and the Christian tradition, we will indoctrinate them with a Christian faith that (1) respects religious diversity, (2) respects Christian diversity, and (3) humbly accepts they might be wrong.”

Prejudice: Ethnocentrism & Politics by Richard Beck

“Ethnocentrism is a mental habit. It is a predisposition to divide the human world into in-groups and out-groups. It is a readiness to reduce society to us and them. Or rather, it is a readiness to reduce society to us versus them.”

Productivity: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day by Michael Hyatt

“Did you know those who take a midday siesta at least three times a week are 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease? Working men are 64 percent less likely!”

Questions: 7 Suggestions for Asking More Powerful Questions by Michael Hyatt

“If you are going to be a successful leader, you are going to have to learn how to ask good questions. Here are seven tips for taking this skill to the next level.”

Receptivity & success: When to Wipe Our Shoes: What Does “Receptive” Mean? by Dan Bouchelle

“Jesus gives us a number for what defines receptivity: one.”

Sabbatical: My Monthly Trip To The Monastery by Brian Jones

“I’ve found that if I don’t get away about once a month and “clear my head” by refocusing and reprioritizing what’s on my plate, I lose my mind.

Self-control & spiritual disciplinesWhat Neuroscience Tells Us about Lenten Disciplines by Rob Moll

“Neuroscience sheds light on how fasting and other spiritual disciplines work by training our subconscious mental processes. We think of ourselves as entirely the activity of our conscious thoughts. In reality, our brain has thousands of sub-conscious processes going on all the time.”

The tree of lifeThe Tree of Life by Richard Oster

“What one discovers is that nations of the Ancient Near East also had traditions about sacred trees, trees of life. … This reality does not “prove” that Israel’s understanding of the tree of life was borrowed from anyone else, but it does suggest at the least that the belief in the sacred tree was part of the religious lingua franca of both Israel and the Ancient Near East.”