Interacting with the Sermon: Synopsis of the Sermon
This weekend, Pastor Insoo Kim opened by zeroing in on the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), Jesus lays out the terms of following him. Rather than launching a political revolution Jesus preaches on “loving your enemy”. As Insoo reflects – this goes against our every fiber. It’s our “higher” calling as followers of Jesus. Insoo asks (along with scripture) “what are we doing more than others”?
We learn in the Apostle John’s letter, from 2 John 1:1-13, that he writes in his later years with a passion for the Gospel and a pastor’s heart. In the opening of the letter, he reminds the Church to “walk in love” (vv. 5-6). Peterson paraphrases Peter’s similar encouragement in1 Peter 1 like this – “love as if your life depends on it”. Jesus gave the church a “new definition of love”. Agape love. Its best illustrated through Jesus’ sacrificial love on the cross (1 John 4:10 & John 3:16). Because of the cross, Love is defined anew from that moment forward.
How can we grow in love? When we are touched to the core of our being with God’s forgiveness, we tap into Christ’s love. When we fail to comprehend the magnitude of His grace and love, we risk loving little. Small groups are where we live out the new family of God.
Insoo ended with two “rules” for the family of God. First, we need to be unreasonably forgiving (1 Peter 4:8). Don’t sweep things under the rug or let bitterness fester – we need to practice biblical forgiveness with each other, recalling frequently that we “live as a sinners among other sinners”. Secondly, we are called to be extravagantly generous. This means “our time, talents, and treasure” are at risk. Some ideas Insoo included were – sharing a meal and sitting together with another family at church. With regard to giving our time and money he said, “if it doesn’t hurt a little it’s probably not extravagant”.
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?
- When have you been the recipient of “extravagant” love? Perhaps from others in your small group, or church family?
- When was the last time you responded spontaneously to a need you saw around you?
Study Goal: Actions speak louder than words…don’t just say you love, but show you love. The Christian faith is full of demonstration, not just mental or verbal assent. In this passage, followers of Jesus are encouraged to love our brothers and sisters with sacrificial and practical acts of love. With Christ as our supreme example, and with His overflowing love in us – we ought to imitate our savior in extravagant acts of love for one another.
Context: In the first of John’s pastoral letters, he reveals that he wants to protect his readers from false teaching (2:26) and at the same time encourage them to fully establish their Christian faith in righteousness and love. Of particular pastoral interest for John were the moral and ethical implications of faith (1:6-10). He writes, “if we claim” or “anyone claims” to be in Christ yet sin reigns or if we fail to love, we deceive ourselves or lie. He uses strong terms and writes with confidence and certainty throughout the letters. In this passage 3:11-20, John transitions in v. 10 from speaking on righteousness to loving the family of God.
Read 1 John 1: 11-18
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a fellow believer is a murderer, and you know that no murderers have eternal life in them.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
- (v.11) From where does this “message” come? (Read together John 13:34-35, and John 15:12, 17; 2 John 4:4-6). John seems to be reminding his readers of “core” messages and teachings from Jesus – do any fringe or non-essential teachings invade the church today? How can they distract or sideline believers?
- (v.12-13) Why is Cain the contrast to the message of v.11? (a. Abel didn’t deserve what he got; rather it was Cain’s jealousy, his resentment of his brother, that led to hatred and ultimately murder). How are Cain and the World connected? (a. Cain is a prototype of the world). Should we be surprised if the World hates us? (a. Jesus warned us in John 15:18-20) Have you experienced treatment like this from the world?
- (vv. 14-15) What is good evidence that we have new life in Jesus? What reveals opposite? Jesus constantly redefines sin, and the gravity of sin. In this text hating a brother or sister is equated to murder. What other texts are like this? (Matt 5: 21-22; 5:27-28; 5:43-44) Jesus always looks at the heart (Matt 15:16-20).
- (v. 16) How do we know what love is? (a. Sacrificial love). What are practical signs of either loving or hating your brother and sister? (a. “Hate is negative, seeks the other person’s harm and leads to activity against him/her, even to the point of murder…Love is positive, seeks the other person’s good, and leads to activity for him/her, even to the point of self-sacrifice”) Have you ever had to repent and ask forgiveness for “hating” someone – what was the outcome?
- Not only are we to understand Christ’s agape (sacrificial) love, but copy it – have you been the recipient of sacrificial love? What were the circumstances? What does this kind of love do to us?
- (v. 17-18) Not many are called to give our lives, but practically, what is sacrificial love? Notice John changes from the plural to the singular – why might that be significant? (a. It’s easier perhaps to love the world, or humanity, but harder to love a particular individual especially one we dislike or with whom we have had past troubles.) What happens prior to the action of “taking pity”? (a. Possession of potential provision and really sees or understands the need).
- How might we insulate ourselves so we never “see” a need? Whenever the people of God truly gather – sacrifice happens (read Acts 2:42-46). God’s love overflows towards others, if that love is truly present…how have you been extravagant or miserly in this last week or month or year? If we aim to be genuine, actions more than words.
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.
- Can you easily comprehend Jesus’ sacrificial love for you – if not, you may need an encounter with the holy spirit to show you afresh the magnitude of God’s love for you.
- Perhaps as you looked at this text, you felt condemned and need to repent of the hatred and absence of love in your heart. It is so freeing to confess that to others and to our Lord and receive prayer. Ask God to show you how to walk out repentance and forgiveness. Ask God to soften the hardness that has built up in your heart.
- Perhaps you have intentionally overlooked the needs of a brother or sister. How will you respond? What is God asking you to do? Pray with another for the Spirit’s guidance and the courage to act.
- Maybe your love tank is empty and as you hear another Christian teaching on love you have a skeptic’s heart. Share with another trusted group member how you’re feeling and seek the Lord on the root of your hard or skeptical heart. What can you do to put yourself in the best position, as Paul writes in Philippians 1, to “abound in love”? What used to be present in your life that isn’t now? What person or experience perhaps caused you to pull back with a hard heart?
 Stott, John. The letters of John. Tyndale NT Commentaries. IVP, Downers Grove, IL USA. 1964. Pg. 146.