Unified - Group Discussion Questions

Faith Step DEBRIEF & FOLLOW UP

• What is the Holy Spirit showing you from this last week?
• How does God desire for you to grow as a disciple or disciple maker?
• How can this group help you in your Christian journey?

Discussion Questions

• How has disunity within the body affected you or others you know?
• How can we strengthen the unity of Spirit among our group and within the larger church?

Unified - Day 5 - The Greatness of the Giver

Listen

Ephesians 4:7-10 - 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

 

Learn

I remember one Christmas visiting a friend’s house for the opening of presents. They went around in a circle as each family member took a turn. When it came time for my friend to open one from their grandmother, there was a lot of anticipation. As sweet as she was, Grandma was also a little strange and had been known to give some less-than-desirable…um...things. This year was no different: the gift was a hand-painted, pastel figurine of Jesus. While the subject was nice, the execution was awful enough to send my friend to their room crying. They received the oddity of the gift as a sort of statement about themself, when in actuality, it was Grandma who was the odd-ball.

Sometimes gifts can say something about the recipient, but oftentimes, they are a statement about the giver. As Paul continues to paint the picture of Christ’s body that he began in earlier verses of chapter 4, he transitions now to speaking of how Christ has gifted us (v.7). There are times when Paul writes stream-of-consciousness and it can be tough to follow. What does ascending and descending (as he quotes from Psalm 68:18 in v.8) have to do with gifts? He is showing us something about the gift-giver.

The exalted, eternal son of God, came as Jesus Christ to the lowest place he could travel: into humanity, and down to earth (v.9). After defeating death, our generous gift-giver has also ascended to the highest seat of power and authority: above the heavens (v.10). This shows us that the one who gives us gifts is humble (v.9), but also all-powerful (v.10). Spiritual gifts do not primarily reveal how wonderful we are, but how wonderful and gracious he is to give them (v.7).

Live

• What abilities and spiritual gifts has God given to you?

• Who is someone you can help to identify their gifts and celebrate the Giver?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for being so great in power and yet great in generosity towards his people.

Unified - Day 4 - Christ's One Body

Listen

Ephesians 4:4-5 - 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Learn

If you go to Jerusalem today, you can visit the Holy Sepulchre - traditionally believed (and now archaeologically confirmed as probable) to be the site of Calvary and Jesus’ tomb. One of the most striking things about the church that has been built on the site, is that it has been occupied by several different church traditions for centuries. Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and others share this one space, which is a powerful symbol of their shared faith in Jesus Christ. Though they have conflict at times (they are, after all, a bunch of sinners) and don’t agree on certain points of doctrine or tradition, they are part of each other and we are a part of them (v.4-5).

One of the things I love about the Christian faith is that through Christ, we are made one (v.4). People from all sorts of denominations, social classes, cultures, and every ethnicity you can imagine have been transformed by the Spirit into Christ’s body - representing him together here on earth.

Live

• Have you ever had the opportunity to worship Jesus with Christians of a different denomination? If so, what did you learn? What can you appreciate about their expressions of faith?

• Are there Christians of other traditions that you feel led to build relationship with?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer for the body of Christ (the church) in our region and across the globe to be one in heart and mission, for God’s glory.

Unified - Day 3 - The Recipe for Christian Relationship

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Ephesians 4:1-3 - I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Learn

I have a friend who is a really good cook but isn’t the best at following a recipe. She’s more of a “jazz chef”: making it up as she goes along. When we were in recovery from the birth of our son, she made our family a meal that we really enjoyed. I wanted to learn how to cook it myself, so I asked for the recipe. She became kind of avoidant until finally I realized: she didn’t have a recipe because she made it up on the fly.

Though it can be a challenge to navigate at times, and can resemble “jazz,” God has not only given us the recipe, but also the ingredients for flourishing relationships.

Verse 2 tells us the recipe requires:

  • Humility
  • Gentleness
  • Patience
  • Bearing with one another in love

All of these ingredients are present through the Holy Spirit unifying our hearts as Christians and joining us together in Christ (“bond of peace” v.3). Our job then is not to “make the recipe from scratch,” but rather continue in - “maintain” (v.3) - what God has already made available to us!

Live

• How does being unified in Christ make you feel?

• Where have you seen the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace in your Christian relationships? Where has it been challenging to “maintain?”

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for bonding us together as Christians.

Unified - Day 2 - A Love Song

Listen

Ephesians 3:14-21 - 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Learn

Do you know people who get so happy that they break into song? I’m not that person, but I know a few who are. I think the Apostle Paul might have been one of those folks.

All of Paul’s letters follow a standard form. The body of his letters are broken into two parts: doctrine first and then practice. Ephesians is no different.

The above section is the transition point of the letter. Based on the truth of the first three chapters, Paul almost breaks into a song. He desires for his readers to be “strengthened with power through [God’s] Spirit” … “rooted and grounded in love,” so that we might comprehend the vastness of Christ’s love, that “surpasses knowledge.” As if to say, that while we might know His love, we’re really just scratching the surface.

Notice in verse 18, Paul’s prayer is that we “may have strength to comprehend... the breadth and length and height and depth” of Jesus’ love. What is Jesus’ love like? Is there anything on earth with the same breadth, length, height and depth? No. So how can we even begin to comprehend such things? Think about the breadth, length, height and depth of the ocean. The ocean is so big it covers the entire earth. The ocean is so wide boats can get lost at sea. The ocean is so deep we haven’t even been able to explore it in its entirely. When we stand on the shores of the ocean we feel small in comparison to its vastness. Jesus’ love is kinda like the ocean only bigger, deeper, and more expansive. Nothing, not even the ocean, compares to the greatness of Jesus’ love. When we get a glimpse of the greatness of Jesus’ love it fills us with the fullness of God (v.19). God loves us … more than we know. It kind of makes me break into a song too.

Live

• Who do you know who is so happy, they break into a song?

• Do you really believe that God loves you? If not, why don’t you think so?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for his amazing, immeasurable love (in Jesus).

Unified - Day 1 - For Better or Worse?

Listen

Ephesians 3:7-13 - 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Learn

This is such a rich section of Scripture. One could camp out for months in it; however, today we’ll focus on one phrase: “... though I am the very least of all the saints…”.

Often when we think of “the least” in the church, the guy who wrote much of the New Testament isn’t where we go first; however, Paul thought of himself as such. In 1 Corinthians 15:9, he said he was the least of the apostles. Here in Ephesians Paul said he was the least of the saints, and finally in 1 Timothy 1:15, he calls himself the worst of sinners. It seems like his Christian “growth” is moving in the wrong direction.

I remember doing a membership interview a few years back and asked the man, “Where would you like to be spiritually in three years?” His response was “I want to be a better Christian.” It’s a good answer, but what do we mean by “better?” After all, Paul, by his own admission, seemed to be getting worse.

I think Paul was onto something. I don’t think he was getting worse, per se, but rather as he grew in his understanding of Jesus, who He is and what He’s done, he became more aware of Jesus’ greatness and his own “not-very-greatness.” In other words, our growth is found in our awareness of Jesus. It should cause us to be more grateful … and more humble, and at some point, we can all say, “He saved a wretch like me,” and mean it.

Live

• Who would you say is “the best” Christian you know? What makes you say that?

• In light of today’s reading, have you re-thought the idea of “a better Christian?” What are your thoughts?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for His greatness and mercy toward you (in Jesus).