A Sheep or a Goat?
The questions in this small group guide relate to the sermon from Oct. 25, 2020. If your group has not had a chance to listen to the full sermon related to this discussion guide, they can find it in our sermon library. Rev. Adam Hamilton preached this week’s sermon.
Lord Jesus, you said that when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger and immigrant and other, and visit the sick and the prisoners, we are really doing those things for you. Keep our eyes and our hearts open to see your face in the faces of hurting people around us who need your touch through us. Amen.
- Read Matthew 25:31-46. Pastor Adam recalled late August, 1990, two months before The Church of the Resurrection’s first worship service. Over pizza and soft drinks, he shared with 20 adults who had committed to the new church that this Scripture had had a major impact on his life. “That night,” he told us, “we said, ‘We’re going to be a church that serves others, that works to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger and immigrant and other, and visits the sick and in prison.’ We decided that night to give 25% of the church’s offerings to missions and serving outside our walls (a number reduced to 20% when we had to make a mortgage payment, but is now back to approximately 23%).” In what ways do you see that founding vision shaping how Resurrection functions today? For however long you have been a part of Resurrection, how has that ministry vision shaped and transformed you?
- Read Micah 6:6-8. The prophet Micah spoke to the kingdom of Judah’s urge to keep religious ritual and “conspicuous consumption” side-by-side. On God’s behalf, he urged a different agenda: “Do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.” In what ways do your culture and community fall short of doing justice, embracing faithful love and walking humbly with God? Scholar Gary Smith said, “Micah’s delineation of God’s requirements… includes no negative statements about what is forbidden to the Israelites. It presents a positive case of what God thinks is best for humankind.” * How can you actively move yourself, your family, your workplace and community toward God’s best for humankind?
- Read Amos 5:21-24. Earlier, Amos itemized God’s charges against Israel: “They have sold the innocent for silver, and those in need for a pair of sandals. They crush the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and push the afflicted out of the way.” (Amos 2:6-7). If Amos wrote today, rather than in 700 B.C., what issues do you think he might list for our culture? How can you be an active change agent whose words and actions move our society toward God’s ideal of justice and righteousness?
- Read James 2:8, 14-17. Jesus’ brother James saw that some early Christians had the same spiritual problem as the Israelites the prophets addressed. A “faith” unwilling to actively help struggling people, he wrote, is no faith at all. James wasn’t suggesting a good “balance” between faith and works, as though we need a 50/50 mix of the two. We need 100% of both—100% merciful actions growing out of 100% faith in God’s gracious acceptance of us, for which we show gratitude. What are some of the faithful actions in loving your neighbor(s) you have seen grow in your life as you respond to God’s grace?
- Read Colossians 3:12-14. “Love, which is the perfect bond of unity” is the mighty force that overcomes prejudice, hatred, distrust and all the influences that divide us from one another. “Love your neighbor” reaches well beyond “tolerate your neighbor” to create true caring and community, even in places where that may have seemed impossible. Colossians went on to make a sweeping statement in 3:17 about loving your neighbor: “WHATEVER you do, whether in speech or action, do it ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus.” How can doing whatever you do in Jesus’ name shape your life, as a group and as individuals? How can you work, shop, drive the freeway, react to today’s news (even political news), cheer for the Jayhawks/Wildcats/Tigers or your kid’s soccer team or discuss the family budget and future holiday plans “in the name of the Lord Jesus”?
- Read Ephesians 2:8-10. Pastor Adam said, “Kindness, compassion, care for others—this is meant to be our way of life as human beings. When people live this way God’s kingdom comes and God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. People find healing, and hope, and help and meaning in their lives. Just after Paul says that we are saved by grace, through faith, not by our works, he says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).” Then, after showing us many of the things Resurrection has done to bless others during our first 30 years, he added, “How much do you think God might use us to do in our next 30 years, starting not with 4 people, or 100 people, but starting with 20,000 people? I sometimes hear people bash organized religion. Can I tell you, I love organized religion when it is organized and focused on following Jesus, on leading people to love their neighbor, and on doing as much good as you can to everyone that you can.
So, as we close this sermon, I want to ask you, are you a sheep or a goat?”
How can you, as individuals and as a group, answer that question, not just in words but in actions?
Lord Jesus, please keep shaping us into people of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Give us the grace to love as you have loved us. Amen.
* Gary V. Smith, The NIV Application Commentary: Hosea, Amos, Micah. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001, p. 555.