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INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
If a follower of Jesus tried to take cues from the media about what it means to be a Christian today – they’d certainly suffer an identity crisis. From a number of studies, Pastor Rich revealed certain sociologists and historians have argued the existence of a particularly sensational and negative view of religious people in popular media (particularly Evangelical and Catholic leaders). Even other Christians will bemoan the state of the church and cite questionable studies saying the church will very shortly become extinct. In the face of verbal, media, and cultural assaults – 1 Peter offers followers of Jesus some fantastic pastoral advice.
The Apostle Peter wrote the book to 1st Century Christians who were experiencing an extremely negative reaction from their neighbors and families as the result of their newfound Christian faith. Christians were being verbally abused. They were being slandered and labeled and shamed. Many Christians were being marginalized. And where it was legal, Christians were the subjects of physical abuse. So Peter wrote this letter to encourage Christians to not lose heart, to persevere in their faith, to not throw in the towel in the face of negativity.
To be human is to ask questions about our existence, our identity, and our destiny. In v. 4 Peter reflects on Jesus’ identity first. He was rejected by human begins. He was verbal abused and lied about. But rather than listening to what people said about himself, he chose to believe what God said about himself. We too can choose to believe what God said about Jesus. The next important question is what do we say about Christ? Jesus was the skandalou = scandal (vv. 6-7) – the point was made that no one can remain neutral about Jesus – we must decide what to make of Him. The third question has to do with our identity – what God has declared about us (v. 5). We are the dwelling of God. We are the chosen of God (v. 9). We are the representatives (royal priesthood) of God (v. 5). Finally, what has God done for us? V. 9 – we were call out of darkness into his wonderful light.
The answers to questions of identity lead us toward a particular purpose, a particular destiny. Our destiny is not to declare our identity. Our destiny is to declare God’s identity. Peter says that we are destined to declare the praises of him, who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Our first audience is God. We also declare God’s identity to other people – through preaching and service and life witness. Finally, we declare the identity of God to ourselves. Pastor Rich spoke personally how during times of doubt, or anxious feelings, or fear – he reminds himself of who God is, what he’s done, and chooses to praise His name.
“I feel most confidant about who God says I am not when I engage in some self pep-talk about who I am. No, I am most confidant about who I am when I speak about who God is. It is when I worship and I tell God who God is and what God has done that I feel most like the dwelling of God. It is when I tell others about Jesus and serve someone else that I feel most like a representative of God. It is when, in private, I take time to think about God and reflect on his greatness that I feel most like the chosen of God. You have a choice – a choice to listen to what everyone else says about you, or a choice to listen to what God says.”
In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
•What are one or two things from this weekend’s sermon that really stood out to you?
•What “reminders” have you installed as a stop-gap for when you feel doubt, or fear, or anxiety? Can you share a recent experience where recalling certain truths proved beneficial for your faith? Please share briefly.
•Which is harder for your faith – maintaining a secure personal identity in Christ or a trusting in a faithful God during trials and life pressures? Please share your response to this question briefly.
Colossians 2:6-15:(***consider deleting the scripture text to reduce printing pages)
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
•V. 6-7 To receive the teachings of Christ and to live out the teachings of Christ are two different things. How do we know that we are living out what we have been taught? Put another way, what does it look like to give away what you have received?
•V. 7 What does Paul mean when he says rooted? How would you describe a life that is rooted and built up? Some definitions of rooted: to become fixed, to implant or establish deeply. What happens when we are rooted?
•Consider seasons in your life when you have been especially thankful to the Lord. How did you benefit from practicing gratitude? How does thankfulness relate to being rooted and established in our faith in Jesus?
•V.8 What are some hollow and deceptive philosophy that may take people captive in our present day? What are some practical ways to avoid or overcome teaching that is contrary to who we know Christ is? How do we speak the truth in a loving way to those who prescribe to different beliefs then our own?
•If you can remember, think of the time before you received Jesus. How was your identity influenced by false belief? What was your identity formed around? Have any beliefs from before you were a Christian been difficult to set aside even after you received Christ?
•V. 9-10 All of the fullness of God permanently dwells in Jesus and that fullness is given to us when we receive Him. For Paul, the Church is the continuing and living embodiment of Christ, in which the fullness of God now dwells. How does this change how you view Jesus and how you view your role in the Kingdom?
•V. 11-12 Describe the Christian circumcision. How does our baptism relate to Christ’s death and resurrection?
•V.13-15 Describe what it was like to be “dead in your sins.” What liberation do we experience when we give our lives to Jesus? What aspects of your identity proclaim to the world that you are now alive in Christ?
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
•If you struggle to hear God’s voice in prayer, have people lay hands on you and invite the Holy Spirit to “open you ears” to hear God’s voice. If led by God, pray for gifts of the Spirit to be distributed abundantly in your small group.
•Is there something you’re asking God for discernment about? Pray with one or two others and practice listening for God’s leading. Test words and visions openly and graciously.
•If the whole area of listening for God’s voice, or being led in small and big ways by the Spirit, is really foreign and uncomfortable – consider reading a book or doing a bible study outside of the group with one or two others on hearing God’s voice.