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.)
Israel’s good King David at one point did a string of wicked, hurtful things. He got a beautiful married woman pregnant and then had her husband killed to cover up his actions (cf. 2 Samuel 11:1-12:14). Many Bible students see Psalm 51 as David’s prayer repenting for those ugly deeds. The psalm didn’t just seek pardon. It pleaded, “Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!” (Psalm 51:10). Joel called God’s people to that “all your hearts” type of repentance. What might a clean heart look like when we apply it to racism and white privilege?
In Jesus’ day, people didn't just dislike tax collectors. They despised them—usually rightly—as traitors who abused the poor. In Jesus' day, prostitutes were, well, prostitutes. How could Jesus say prostitutes and tax collectors were entering God’s Kingdom before the religious leaders? For what reasons does God prefer honest repentance that turns away from evil to pious words that don’t match the way we live?
The Jewish historian Josephus said the unnamed, exploited young woman who danced for Herod was “Salome.” Scholar William Barclay wrote that Herod “kept his promise to Salome because he had made it in front of his cronies…. He feared their jeers… he feared that they would think him weak.”* Has trying to look “strong” to others by hiding your convictions or playing along with their biases ever made you weaker? How do you define truly strong choices for living?
The call to repentance was not about blaming. Peter said, “I know you acted in ignorance. So did your rulers.” But earlier ignorance could not continue. Ignorance could change. They could learn and grow. Have you heard in the last two weeks the number of people in our country who have said some version of “I didn’t realize”? Have you realized any ways in which you have “acted in ignorance” in the past?
* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 153.
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