Synopsis of the Sermon
This week, Rich talked about the debt of love that we owe each other. Because God has lavished his love on us – we must pass that love on. And that debt of love will never be discharged. We will go on loving our neighbors as God loves us. Jesus’ followers were radicals for prioritizing love. Love is what matters when we come to the end of our lives or experience pain and love is the thing that changes us. Paul also defines love for us. Love is made know through the law. The law gives us a measure that is not just our own subjective perspective. The law gives structure to love. Love is also defined by asking ourselves how we would want to be loved. Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, treat other people the way you would want to be treated if you were in their situation. We have an amazing definition of love that is found right within ourselves – and you don’t have to have a PhD to understand it.
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?
- Do you have a story of a time where you experienced profound life-changing love? Like Rich’s story about his teacher who told him if she ever had a little boy, she hoped he would turn out just like him, is there a time when someone loved you really well and it stuck a deep chord in you and changed you?
Read 1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us…
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Read the entire passage, but we’ll focus on the first and last sections.
- VV. 7 & 19: Why do we love one another? (observation) What do you think it means that “everyone who loves has been born of God”? See also V. 16b (interpretation) (It would be good to talk over the implications of this verse relating to those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus as an application. We can see God’s work in people as they love. It is also freeing to learn that just because someone doesn’t have relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean that there isn’t something of Jesus present in them as they love.)
- VV. 9-10 What is love according to these verses? (observation) How do we love according to V. 17? (observation) (“In this world we are like Jesus”)
- VV. 11-12 What effect will loving people have? (observation) What do you think it means that his “love is made complete in us” if we love each other? (interpretation) What do you feel like this means for you personally? (application)
- VV. 20-21 What are these challenging verses saying about love? (observation) How do you think this verse would sound to someone dealing with difficult relationships or relationships where there has been serious hurt done by someone to another person? (interpretation) Have you struggled with this concept personally? Was there a time when it was difficult to love, but God shed new light and meaning on these verses for you? Would you be willing to share?(application)
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.
- Use ministry time to bless each other in love. You can have all the men lay hands on the women and bless them and then have the women lay hands and bless the men. You could have older bless the younger and then younger bless the older. If your group is smaller and you have time, you could even bless each person and pray for them individually in the middle if they want to receive blessing. There is something profound that can happen when a group of people just bless one another and say, “we love you” in a safe context.
- Pray for those in the group struggling with a difficult relationship. Pray for God to reveal his love to them in a greater way so that they have the capacity to love in a difficult place.
- Lead people through a silence exercise that helps them receive God’s love. Start by inviting God to come and speak about his love to each person in the group. Then have everyone sit with their palms up – just as a sign that they are open to receive whatever God has for them. Then read 1 John 3:1 over them slowly. Read it a few times. Let it really sink it. Then wait for 5-10 minutes and encourage people to let God show them He loves them. You can encourage them to think back over the last week or even the last 24 hours and see if there was a time when God was revealing His love for them. It could be an emotion or an experience that seemed insignificant at the time. They can write down their thoughts or the road blocks that they experience. Finish by praying blessing over them and asking God to highlight those times when He is showing them His love this week.