The Separation of Church and Hate
Currently we could be called “The Divided States of America,” for instead of uniting to solve our current challenges, we are experiencing seemingly irreparable division that has invaded our communities, schools, churches, and families.
Gene pointed out that Satan, is celebrating over all of this because one of his greatest strategies is to divide people, especially to divide the church of Jesus Christ. He well knows that when the church is united, it is an unstoppable force for good.
Have you experienced a falling out with others over any of the issues Gene mentioned?
Have someone read 1 Corinthians 1:10-12.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addressed the divisions they were experiencing, pleading with them to choose to be united, healed, restored instead of allowing themselves to be divided.
Gene explained the non-negotiable essentials of the Christian faith: that Jesus is God’s son and came to die on a cross for our sins, and because he rose again, only he can save us. This is the essential belief that unites us as Christians; we are of one mind on this.
There are topics in Scripture, not essential to whether one goes to heaven or not, that Christians have been debating over for centuries. In those parts of Scripture where the interpretation is not black and white, areas of opinion that are open to discussion, we can also choose to be united “in thought,” meaning in our attitude toward allowing for diversity of opinion. We can agree to disagree sometimes without being disagreeable.
His message: In essentials unity. In non-essentials liberty. In all things love.
What is the biggest challenge you face in the concept of agreeing on the essentials and agreeing to disagree regarding non-essentials?
When we become a part of a group of people who have different life experiences, backgrounds and stories than we do, God uses that to help us grow. If we stay isolated in our echo chambers with people who are just like us, we’re not going to be much different than the rest of our polarized culture. If we want to make a difference in this world by fully following Jesus with our understanding and actions, building some bold relationships by making friends with people who are different than we are is important.
How has being in a small group and getting to know each other’s stories changed you?
Things that can pull us apart are quarrels, cliques and losing focus on the mission of Jesus. Here at Eastside, we are united around the mission of Jesus. People are longing to see the love of Jesus. We want to lift up Jesus so that people will be drawn to him.
Have someone read 2 Timothy 2:23-24a.
What attitude did Paul say we should have toward our opponents? Why are these people not the enemy?
What happens if we believe that everyone who disagrees with us is wrong? How can we keep an open and humble mind toward those who have ideas and opinions different from our own without compromising truth?
Have someone read John 17:20-21.
When Jesus prayed in his final moments before being arrested in the garden, this is what was on his heart.
How can you model unity for the sake of people in our communities?
What disagreement or difference of opinion over matters of faith or ministry have you engaged in recently? What will the message and the verses we have read today lead you to say or do differently?
What is your plan for growing as a student of God’s Word? What are you doing on your own to root yourself in the Word and understand its truths?
WRAP UP & PRAYER
Have each person share their prayer requests. Ask someone to type them up and share the list with the group. This week spend time daily praying for your group.
This week take time to pray and ask God to reveal areas or actions that are keeping or hindering you from extending love to others.
Share one way you would like the group to pray for you this week. Pair the group up and ask them to talk via phone and pray for each other before the next meeting.
Prayer: Romans 15:5-7 (Msg)
May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! So, reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!
In Jesus’ name. Amen.