Friday, February 15, 2008

The Table: Unity, Diversity, and Charity

Here is this weeks small group curriculum. We added a 5th and final lesson to the Table series.

Big Idea: The church is a table of sorts; where people from different backgrounds, experiences, and levels of spiritual maturity gather together for the glory of God. Maintaining unity in the midst of this diversity is a critical component of our Christian life.

Summary: There is absolute truth – the essentials. For example, there is only one God, and Jesus Christ is the only way unto salvation. However, there are many non-essential things that relate to life that are not specifically defined and outlined in scripture – what we should eat and when we should gather. In fact, in his letters to the Romans and the Corinthians, Paul directly acknowledges the fact that there are “disputable matters,” and that differences of opinion is permissible. But, we must appropriately manage the way we handle these differences. We must accommodate our differences in the non-essentials while “speaking the truth in love” as it relates to the essentials. St. Augustine put it this way, “In the essentials we have unity, in the non-essentials we have diversity, and in all things we have charity.” Here’s the big question, are we willing to divest ourselves of our petty inclinations of self-interest for the ultimate goal of expanding the table and increasing the population in heaven? In accomplishing this mission, our motto as Christ followers should be “compassion without compromise.” Therefore, we should not say, “lighten up” or “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Rather, we must, “stand in awe of the risen Christ who will get his glory from the living and from the dead and from the eaters and the abstainers and from the day-keepers and the non-day-keepers. Stand in awe of Jesus Christ. And whatever we do, whether we eat or whether we drink, do all to the glory of Christ.”

Discussion Questions: (read the Scripture & discuss)

Romans 14:1-12 Why is the one who limits what he eats weak in faith rather than the other person? A holy life is one which does what pleases God. How does this apply if there is no particular right or wrong way?

Romans 14:13 - 15:13 Do you have a problem with judging other Christians and making sure they meet up to your standards? What are some principles from this section of scripture that would help you to have a proper attitude toward them?

1 Corinthians 10:23 – 11:1 Instead of being critical of others and being divisive, how are we to conduct ourselves? Because of our love for others, what are some things that we can do, but shouldn’t do?

Taking Action: Identify some non-essentials where you can accommodate others instead of criticizing them. Are there some essentials that you are compromising instead of speaking the truth in love? List at least two changes you desire to take place in your life because of this study.

Ministry Time

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"...unity in the midst of this diversity..."
there is no unity in diversity without Christ. We are united in Him, in the Spirit. Christian fellowship requires belief in Christ. We can/should welcome pre-believers, love them, show hospitality and kindness to them- whatever their background/lifestyle choice, listen to them; but there is no Fellowship without Christ in common.