Friday, May 23, 2008

OPPOSITE WORLD: living as citizens of heaven

Here is my small group curriculum for this week.

Big Idea:
As Christians, we still live in the world, but we are not supposed to live like the world. We are called to be set apart and live in a place called “opposite world”.

Summary:
If you are in Christ, you are a new creation, and your life is forever different because your purpose for living has completely changed. With your new identity also comes a new allegiance and a new citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, which we’ll call opposite world. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between this world and opposite world. The kingdom of this world lifts up the popular, beautiful, bold, proud, rich, wealthy, wild, dangerous, fun-loving, and exciting. Jesus describes the citizens of His kingdom as humble, meek, thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted. Here’s the bottom line: a citizen of God’s kingdom will put the needs of others before themselves and will find their blessings in serving the desires of the King rather than their own.

Repentance, the act of changing our thinking and our purpose for living, is essential as we make the move to opposite world and a life lived for Christ. In fact, we can’t follow Christ without repentance. We can’t turn to Him without turning from our old ways of thinking and living. This is because we can’t serve two masters. We can’t truly hold onto Christ without letting go of the world. We come to a fork in the road of life. We can’t go both directions - thus, the need for repentance. Which path will we choose: this world or opposite world? Will we continue living for ourselves or live solely for Christ?

With that said, we have to remember that we are not called to totally abandon this world, but instead we are called to be salt and light in this world. This means that we must engage this world by sharing the love of Christ and the truth of the gospel with others. We must live like Christ, treat others like Christ would treat them, and tell others about Him. Therefore, let’s live the rest of our lives as citizens of opposite world, while putting the kingdom of God into practice in this world.

Discussion Questions: (read the Scripture & discuss)

Matthew 5:1-12
How does Jesus describe a citizen of opposite world? Discuss how these character qualities should be demonstrated in our lives. How does this differ from the qualities promoted by this world?

Matthew 6:19-24
Why should we invest in God’s kingdom instead of this world? Because our allegiance can’t be divided, how do we serve God instead of this world? What are some things that we must lay down?

Matthew 5:13-16
What happens if we don’t embrace the ways of opposite world, but instead revert back to the ways of this world? Discuss real ways that we can be salt and light in today’s culture.

Taking Action: Examine your life and determine if you have a divided allegiance. Repent by correcting your thinking and submitting all areas of your life to God.

Ministry Time

Click here for PRINTER-FRIENDLY copy of the curriculum

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