This week's Small Group Guide is composed of questions from this week's GPS Guide. The questions relate to the Scripture for that particular day. You can download the full week's GPS as a printable document for the context of each question below (in the printable version, the recommended small group questions are marked with a special bullet point).
Matthew wrote that “they [wealthy visitors from a foreign religion, who’d been mixing with Herod’s court] saw the child with Mary his mother [a poor young peasant girl]. Falling to their knees, they honored him.” What allowed the Persians to value the simple piety of Mary and her child more than the external glitter of Herod’s court? What do you learn about the God who accepted and valued worship from Zoroastrian visitors who had come to see the newborn king because of an invitation in the stars?
After years preaching mainly to Gentiles, the apostle Paul wrote to Roman Christians about people beyond the “right” faith who “instinctively do what the Law requires,” who “show the proof of the Law written on their hearts” (cf. Romans 2:11-16). There is debate about some details of Paul’s meaning. But does it not seem clear that Paul knew there were (and are) honest people outside the Christian faith who love God? Can’t we, without compromising our own faith, believe God is also at work in their lives?
The writer of Jonah had a superb touch with irony. The book described an astounding preaching success—a whole city repenting and turning to God. The preacher’s attitude? “Jonah thought this was utterly wrong, and he became angry” (Jonah 4:1)! What made Jonah so angry? Is it possible for God to care about people without endorsing violent or other hurtful actions, like Assyria’s violence toward Israel?
1 Corinthians 13:9 (“we know in part”) reminded us that we don’t know everything about God. Reflect on where you were in your faith journey 1 year, 5 years, 10 years ago. What have you learned in the meantime? In what areas, as you look back, can you sense how partial your understanding of God and God’s ways was? Could it be that at this time next year, or five years from now, you’ll have the same sense as you look back on some of the things you’re sure you “know” today? Given the scale and scope of the God we worship, do you think you will ever reach a point before eternity where you have nothing left to learn (or unlearn)? How does that realization shape the way you relate to other people with different beliefs?
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