Cycle Breaker Week 4: I’m Breaking The Cycle Of Toxic Religion

Please note: This is the last study guide for our summer session. This fall we will launch a church-wide initiative for Financial Peace University. We will resume producing study guides when FPU is completed.

SERIES TITLE

Cycle Breaker

series overview

It’s easy to feel stuck in patterns of the past. Most of the time we inherit these cycles from society, parents, or even the church. Let’s get past the layers of dysfunction and have an honest talk about emotions, racism, addiction, and religion. It can stop with you —you can be the cycle breaker!

sermon TITLE

I’m Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Religion

weekend in review

Mike Breaux explains misperceptions about the God of the Bible, how they developed, and why they are toxic to God’s purposes. Understanding the relationship God desires to have with his people is paramount

WARM UP

Begin with some conversation, checking in on how people are doing. You can talk about whatever you’d like, but here are potential questions to get the conversation going.

  • What is your favorite summer Olympic sport? If you’ve been watching the Olympics, share a favorite moment.
DISCUSSion
Select 5-6 questions from the list below to guide your discussion time.

  • Read John 9:1-4 and Matthew 11:29-30. Mike explained the life-UNDER-God misperception, saying, “Instead of really getting to know God, the Lover of your soul, you spend a lifetime living with the insecurity that you most likely have made him mad in some way.” Did you grow up being afraid of God? How did Jesus dismantle the life-UNDER-God thinking in Matthew 11?

  • The life-OVER-God perspective includes atheism, humanism, and deism. It sees God as either nonexistent or inactive, therefore we humans call the shots, leading our lives as we see fit. Among Christians, this can take the form of our viewing the Bible as containing godly principles that work for us but missing that Scripture’s primary purpose is for us to get to know the Author of life. This misconception takes us to a life without God, which is really no life at all. How do you view the Bible? How does that change when you understand its primary purpose is to teach us to know God personally?

  • Read James 1:17-18. Mike explained that the Bible does teach us to ask our heavenly Father for whatever we need. However, the life-FROM-God misperception sees God as some sort of generous genie whose purpose is to feed our consumerism. “God stops becoming our treasure and becomes how we acquire our treasure.” What is the danger in viewing God with a sense of entitlement versus gratitude?

  • Read Philippians 3:10-11, Colossians 2:7, and Ephesians 3:18-19. The life-FOR-God misperception leads to putting mission in the place of God. The Apostle Paul serves as a model of someone who kept his great passion to know Christ at the center of his heart and actions and mission. What are your thoughts and feelings as you read these verses? How do they inspire your passion to know Christ? How could you take steps to know Christ more?

  • Gordon MacDonald wrote: “Missionalism starts slowly and gains a foothold in the leader’s attitude. Before long the mission controls almost everything: time, relationships, health, spiritual depth, ethics, and convictions. In advanced stages, missionalism means doing whatever it takes to solve the problem. In its worst iteration, the end always justifies the means. The family goes; health is sacrificed; integrity is jeopardized; God connection is limited.” It is the belief that your worth is determined by the achievement of something great. Share a time you found yourself defining your value by putting ministry or work above everything else.

  • Faithful service is valuable and admirable. However, why is it unhealthy to define your own worth by your service to others? If you are a parent, do your children know you love them unconditionally, or do you communicate that your love for them and their worthiness to you must be earned? What unhealthy behaviors might that lead to? Why?

  • Read Ephesians 1:4. Why is it important to know that God intentionally chose you to be part of his family?

  • Read Revelation 21:3. What does verse 3 show us about God’s desire for humanity? How do you see God expressing his desire to be with his people throughout the Bible?

  • Mike explained that the God many of us perceive is not the true and living God. We need to “fire” our misperceptions about him. Share one misperception you had of God that you’ve fired (or need to fire).
application

God sent his son to restore what had been broken and bring us into a relationship with him. He wants to know us and be with us. What is one action you feel prompted to take from this week’s message that will move you closer in your relationship with God?

WRAP UP & PRAYER
Share prayer requests and spend time praying for each other.

  • Pray to understand and value what God values and that as you draw closer to God, you will grow mightily in your relationship with him.

  • Pray that God would reveal any misconceptions you have of him. Ask him for understanding of how he sees you, how he loves you, and what he is calling you to be and do together with him.

additional resources on toxic religion

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