Week 20 - Group Activity
“It is only because he became like us that we can become like him.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship”
Living Out The Gospel
(approx. time: 60 minutes)
As a quick recap, we are working through the book of Acts and, as a church, we are seeking to live as God's sent people. Each of us, as disciples, are called to live on mission. Whether we are at work, home, or on vacation we have been sent. This means that as followers of Jesus we are now living as his witnesses (Acts 1:8), seeking opportunities to proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord (Acts 5:42).
During our last activity, we worked through an exercise that helped us understand some key elements of the gospel. We also talked through the importance of reminding ourselves of these truths, especially in times when we face trials or temptations.
What Is Living Out The Gospel?
For this week we are working through the idea of living out the gospel. Another way you could phrase this is, living in light of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Paul in Philippians 1:27-30 says,
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." (NIV)
What Paul is advocating to the saints in Philippi is not that they should live perfect lives but that they should live in light of the gospel. To live not as citizens of this world but of heaven. This is clearly seen when we live in a manner which displays how the gospel has made a significant change in our lives.
How many of you, when you find an amazing restaurant immediately feel compelled to tell someone about it? How many of you go so far as to take your friends there, maybe even pay for them? Well, more glorious than any meal could possibly be is our relationship with God. When we experience God and when we truly believe the reality of the gospel and its implications for us, we can’t help but share that news with others. Not only that but it should also affect how we live.
The truth is, we all were once dead in sin and only because of God’s great mercy and love are we now alive together in Christ (Eph. 2:1-5; John 3:16). This love that God has shown us should compel us to proclaim the gospel and display God's love to our friends, neighbors, even our enemies (Col. 2:13; Rom. 5:8; Matt. 5:44).
What does it mean for a Christian to walk worthy of the gospel and how can we practically live a life that displays it's present and eternal value?
How would living out the gospel apply to loving our neighbors?
Who is your neighbor?
In Luke 10:25-37 - a lawyer seeks to test Jesus by asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus returns his question with a question by asking him what God’s Law says. His answer reveals his knowledge of God's word when he states;
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” - Luke 10:27
Jesus then confirms his answer and says “do this and you shall live”. However, the lawyer seeking specifics and wanting to check off the box asks, “and who is my neighbor?”
Jesus in response then tells the story of the Good Samaritan. An individual that comes across a man left for dead. This Samaritan takes it upon himself to care for this wounded stranger by giving his time even his treasure. He then is identified, by Jesus, to be an example of what it means to be a “neighbor”. The Samaritan stops to love the outsider in his path who was in need. The lawyer confirms this and Jesus then tells him to "go and do likewise".
So who is your neighbor? Who are the people that God has placed in your life - on your path? Each of us has literal neighbors but have you made the effort to get to know them? Today we are going to work through an activity that will help you identify a few people God has placed nearest to you.
How does loving God and loving our neighbor coincide with one another?
What do you think could happen if we were intentional about getting to know and learning to love our literal neighbors?
Neighborhood Mapping Exercise
(taken from the book, The Art of Neighboring by John Ortberg)
a. In the map, or on a sheet of paper, write the names of the people who live around you. Your house is in the middle.
b. Now write down some facts that you know about each person or family that you know of.
c. Now write down in-depth information you might know about them. Some examples are; what are their spiritual beliefs? What do they fear most? Anything meaningful.
How many of you were able to get at least 5 out of 8? How many knew in-depth information for at least 3 neighbors?
What adjustments do you need to make in your life and routine to love your neighbors better?
(approx. time: 10 minutes)
Spend time in prayer together acknowledging all that God has brought up throughout the evening. This might a prayer of gratitude or might even include a prayer of repentance or a confession. This might have even challenged some in their standing with the Lord or in their faith. Whichever the case, lovingly guide your group to spend time appreciating our glorious and gracious God.
The following videos and books have helped me as I have been working through the Sharing the Gospel activities.