Deep Dive: Week 1: “Heaven Help Us” Scripture: 1 John 4:7-12
I want you to think about your community. Who lives next to you, and who lives across the street from you? Do you know their names? Do you know what they are going through right now, their joys, struggles, issues, pains, or anything else? The real issues today are that more and more people are becoming so focused on excluding themselves from everyday life that they lose sight of the friendships that exist right around them.
This is also happening inside churches as well. People are beginning to “punch the church time clock” and not really connect with others. Are we going to church merely out of habit or because of tradition? The church used to be a place of community and a place where life happened but that does not always happen anymore. The quote that was used on Sunday from Francis Chan’s book Letters to the Church says this:
“Real love, unity, and blessing were supposed to be in the Church. Many are having a hard time finding that, so they’re setting off on their own. Jesus said the world would see the supernatural unity and love we share in the Church and believe in Him through that. But we’re not experiencing it. We’ve given up on it. We no longer believe it is possible.”
It calls for a shift in our hearts and minds for the church and leadership of the church. This shift calls for a community of love and forgiveness that seeks to see everyone through a different lens. It calls for a radical change in how we engage our neighborhoods. It calls for us to be a people that seeks to live out disciple-making. As you read the Scripture passage pay close attention to what a community based on love and forgiveness would look like.
Read the passage in any version you want -- 1 John 4:7-12
Why has culture changed in our communities where we typically do not connect with our neighbors?
Why are we seeing more people not connecting in church and leaving to find connection in other means?
This passage says in verse 10 that, “Real love isn't our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.” (CEV) It is because of this love we are called to love others. Verse 11 says this, “Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other. What if connecting with others whether inside the church or in our communities is because we have a heart condition (lack of love for others)? I want you to talk about that with the group.
Our society has pushed us to neglect certain people because of belief, appearance, race, their struggles, their shame, and so much more. However, I want you to reflect on this question: How do you move from rejection to radical acceptance? If we don’t then how can people experience the amazing love of God in Christ “by which our sins are forgiven.” So back to the question, how do you move from rejection, ignoring, to radical acceptance? What walls or barriers do you need to remove?
In my experience people are struggling because they have this notion that they must be “fixed” first before experiencing God. Where do you think this type of thinking comes from? Explain?
If the church doesn’t make a change in how we love, how we accept, how we represent Christ in this world, what will happen to the church? Explain.
“God of Goodness, I come into your presence so aware of my human frailty and yet overwhelmed by your love for me. I thank you that there is no human experience that I might walk through where your love cannot reach me. If I climb the highest mountain, you are there and yet if I find myself in the darkest valley of my life, you are there. Teach me today to love you more. Help me to rest in that love that asks nothing more than the simple trusting heart of a child.” Amen (Author Unknown)