Tri-Village Sermon 6.4.17
RECAP: Before this study, how did you think of the Beatitudes? Brad talked about how the beatitudes are not a sort of menu to choose from, but rather they all hang together and are interconnected. Leaders it might be helpful to give a recap by reading this quote from John Stott (below) and asking
“The beatitudes paint a comprehensive portrait of a Christian disciple. We see him first alone on his knees before God, acknowledging his spiritual poverty and mourning over it. This makes him meek or gentle in all his relationships, since honesty compels him to allow others to think of him what before God he confesses himself to be. Yet he is far from acquiescing in his sinfulness, for he hungers and thirsts after righteousness, longing to grow in grace and in goodness. We see him next with others, out in the human community. His relationship with God does not cause him to withdraw from society, nor is he insulated from the world’s pain. On the contrary, he is in the thick of it showing mercy to those battered by adversity and sin. He is transparently sincere in all his dealings and seeks to play a constructive role as a peacemaker. Yet he is not thanked for his efforts, but rather opposed, slandered, insulted, and persecuted on account of the righteousness for which he stands and the Christ with whom he is identified.” -John Stott
Re-Read Matthew 5:1-12. Now that we’ve come to the conclusion of the Beatitudes, what would you say the blessed life looks like? Who are those who are “blessed” in the eyes of Jesus? (Leaders: recap the upside-down kingdom of Christ from previous weeks).
On Sunday morning we got into the final beatitude which is repeated for us in verses 10-12. What is the righteousness that leads to persecution? (Leaders: Brad said that “the type of righteousness that leads to persecution is the life that flows from a relationship with Jesus; a life that is lived by his grace as a citizen of His Kingdom! A life that looks like everything he’s said so far in the Beatitudes!”)
Read 1 Peter 2:9-12. Why would leading a life flowing from a relationship with Jesus lead to persecution? (Leaders: The values of the kingdom of God are diametrically opposed to the values and aim of the kingdom of heaven. The more people pursue these aims, the more they put themselves at odds with the aims of the world and what the world considers “blessing”…this will lead to persecution. In fact, leaders, a good follow up to this would be that if you don’t experience any kind of persecution, what is missing in your walk with Christ?).
Have you ever experienced a time when the values of the kingdom and your relationship with Christ have led to persecution, suffering or trials? What was your reaction and how was your walk with Christ affected during that time?
How did Brad describe the way we ought to respond to the sin and brokenness of the world? How does the world respond to sin? (Leaders: We need to respond with tears of compassion and with the truth of the Gospel. We need to mourn over sin. The world not only excuses sin, but celebrates it and boasts in it – as a follow up question, you might ask “what are we to boast in?”).
Read 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. How will our responses to the brokenness and sin of the world lead to persecution? (Leaders, the quote below might help clarify discussion once some discussion has taken place. Note again, that our desires, when they are godly, are on a collision course with those aims of the world).
“The Kingdom of the World says you’re blessed when you are self sufficient, when you’re able to fulfill all your desires. Not when you hunger and thirst after righteousness, but when you realize that there is no such thing! When make your own standard and you do whatever works for you. And when you come hungering and thirsting for righteousness… valuing and desiring something totally different… to see it in every aspect of your life, to see it bring justices and rightness to everything and everybody… That hunger and thirst for righteousness to grow personally in your life and to reign socially in everyone’s lives… that will lead you to be attacked by both the self-righteous religious people… and the rebellious irreligious people!” – Brad, from the sermon
Read 1 Peter 4:12-16, James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:1-5. What should our reaction be to suffering and persecution in this life? Put another way, what is the Biblical reaction to what we face in this world? OR – are we spending our lives working to avoid trials? Where does the power and the strength come from to react in a godly way? What is the ultimate results of these trials? (Leaders, stress that we shouldn’t be surprised by the suffering and the persecution, but that we ought to expect it and rejoice in it, knowing that it signifies our adoption into the family of God. Remind your group of John 15:11, and that joy and happiness are major themes in the Bible because Jesus knows that sin never delivers on its promises. Jesus is promising a kingdom that will bring the joy we deeply desire – true fulfillment – he is saying these things for our joy).
What kind of joy is Jesus specifically talking about? Knowing that in the Bible joy is almost always mentioned alongside of suffering and pain, what does joy look like in the midst of suffering? Have you ever experienced this kind of joy? Can you tell off a time that you’ve experienced joy through a season of trial?
“Almost all of the conflict in your life comes from the fact that you are trying to build a Kingdom in the World that is all about you! And the more you live in the illusion of that Kingdom, the more uncomfortable you will be, the more anxious you will be, the more empty you will feel, the more bitter you will be toward others, the more you will be disappointed and alone. But Jesus is promising you a kingdom of comfort, security, satisfaction, mercy, where you will see his face and be called his son!” – Brad, from the sermon
Takeaway: Brad gave several examples of martyrs who had suffered and died for being a Christian. He said, “If you’re wondering if your faith is strong enough to face the persecution they faced… it isn’t! Because God doesn’t give grace for you to overcome trials and sufferings that you aren’t facing” We are called to look forward to joy through the persecution in our lives. So this week, meditate on Hebrews 12:1-2, and ask ourselves these questions: Where is God calling you to trust him? Where is he calling you to mourn? Where are you needing to be meek? Or merciful? Where is he calling you to purity? Or to make peace? Will you lean on God’s grace and trust him in you office? In you class? In your Neighborhood?