Better Together: Through Kingdom Lenses

 

Group Gathering

WARM UP (5–10 minutes)

INVITE GOD IN

Take a few minutes to talk with God silently about the lenses through which you see the world. Ask God where He wants you to pay attention to your worldview.

If It is helpful, write, draw, or express yourself to God.

DISCUSS TOGETHER

How do differences normally divide us in our culture? On a daily basis, where and in what ways do you see or experience differences driving us?

WATCH VIDEO (22 minutes)

Watch the video for Group Gathering 1

VIDEO NOTES

John 9:1-12

Finding Fault vs. Taking Responsibility

“We choose to find fault with current situations when we want to escape responsibility to change them.”

Jesus Uses Natural Means

“Jesus uses every natural means necessary. What I mean by this is that Jesus does well. We don’t see it coming.”

Jesus Uses Supernatural Power

“Jesus infuses natural things with supernatural power.”

Jesus Gives People Choices

“Jesus gives people choices.”

Galatians 3:26-29

Power Is a Corrupting Influence If…

TAKE A MOMENT

Take two minutes to think about what stood out to you the most about what Danielle said. What resonated with you and what was challenging?

UNPACK TOGETHER (35–45 minutes)

DISCUSS TOGETHER

  1. Danielle said that an honest assessment of the lenses we wear is the starting place of shifting our perspective. What makes identifying the flaws of the lenses we wear so important? How can someone safely identify their flawed perspective in a way that is helpful and not shameful?
  2. What are some natural means that can be implemented around us to shift the lenses through which we see the world? What would it look like to invite Jesus’ supernatural power into those means? How can Christlike empowerment also play a role?

Shifting Martha’s Lenses:

Select a volunteer to read aloud to the group:

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” — Luke 10:38-42

Group leader: select a volunteer to read the following passage and commentary aloud. Discuss the questions below.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. — Galatians 3:26-29

Gentile was a term describing any person of non-Jewish descent. In the New Testament non-Jewish persons are also referred to as Greek, given the heavy Greco-Roman influence throughout the Ancient Near East.

What It Meant Then:

As Paul writes this passionate yet heart-broken letter to the churches of Galatia, some major worldview shifts were under way for early Christians. Jesus’ life-giving and radically inclusive message was spreading quickly across the known world, and not just among the Jewish community. The Holy Spirit was drawing both Jew and Gentile alike to receive new life in Christ. Though beautiful in so many ways, the coming together of various cultures, backgrounds, and worldviews led to a lot of conflict among early Christians.

In the church in Galatia, a small group of Jewish Christians were pressuring Gentile believers to adhere to Jewish religious and cultural practices, claiming that salvation is perfected through them. These practices and beliefs were deeply ingrained into the Jewish way of life. This group even encouraged other Jewish Christians not to associate with Gentile believers who refused to bend to their pressure. Paul, a Jewish Christian himself, took huge exception to this, pointing out that all believers’ salvation and growth happen through the power of Christ alone (Galatians 3:1-3). He claimed that the Jewish customs were no longer necessary and that there was no hope for salvation through Jewish religious law (Galatians 3:10–14).

In the passage on page 11, Paul challenges the worldview of both Jews and Gentiles, putting to rest the notion that there should be divisions among believers based on differences. Society of that time was stratified based on race, status, and gender. Those with the right qualifications would be elevated to certain levels of cultural and societal privilege while others were discriminated against. By using three consecutive pairs of opposites (Jew/Gentile, slave/free, male/female), Paul rejects three major dividing lines in first-century culture.

He even goes as far as saying that all who belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed, a privilege previously bestowed on the Jewish people exclusively. In this Paul was admonishing followers of Jesus to see the world and others through the new kingdom lenses of inclusion, love, and equality.

What It Means Now:

Paul outlines the cultural worldview that Jesus was calling His followers to embrace. Much like in the first century, our culture has a subtle yet powerful impact on the way we see the world and those around us. Recognizing and setting aside the lenses we wear is no small task, yet it is a necessary one if we are ever to see the shared thriving of humanity that Jesus desires. Christ has established new cultural viewpoints and norms for His followers to adhere to — ones where we are all children of God in Christ and on an equal footing regardless of our differences. Paul writes that we are all one in Christ Jesus, and it will take us all working together in order to shift these entrenched perspectives.

Abraham was the first patriarch of the Israelite people to whom God promised to bless extensively. Being Abraham’s Seed is a way of saying that all those in Christ (including Gentiles) would receive the same rights and privileges that God promised to Abraham’s descendants. This would have been a radical claim in Paul’s time and likely met with fierce opposition.

Looking Ahead

  1. What do you think made it so difficult for Jewish Christians to shift their worldview and see others through Jesus’ lenses? What made changing lenses so important for the early church?
  2. What similarities and differences do you notice between a first-century approach to diversity and our culture’s approach today? How have you seen the church embrace kingdom lenses? How have you seen the church embrace the lenses of our world?
  3. Where in your own life have you noticed difficulty putting on Jesus’ kingdom lenses of equality and love? What would it look like to start to better embrace that worldview with the support of Jesus and those around you?

Experience Together

Instructions:

  •  Have one person read the guided prayer (below) out loud to the group.
  •  As they read, take time to think about and pray about a situation in your life where you are struggling to see someone or something through Jesus’ kingdom lenses.
  •  If needed, take notes as you go in the open space provided on the next page. After you are finished with the guided prayer, give everyone a few extra minutes to jot down any final thoughts from the prayer time.
  •  When everyone is ready, discuss your experience as a group. How does Jesus want to be present in that situation with you? How does he want to shift your perspective?
  •  Have the group encourage each member as they share.

PRAY TOGETHER

Have someone close your time in prayer by inviting God into the rest of this week. Ask Jesus to shift your worldview to better align with His.

As the reader, make sure you are also engaging in prayer for yourself as you read.

GUIDED PRAYER

Before you begin, take a few minutes to yourself to think about a situation where you have struggled to love, respect, or include someone. It can be something you are currently experiencing or a situation from your past. Once everyone is ready, have one person read the following aloud as your group engages in this guided prayer. Reader, use the paragraph breaks to pause for at least 30 seconds. After you are done with the guided prayer, give everyone a few extra minutes to jot down any final thoughts from the prayer time.

Imagine you are in a place that is especially peaceful for you. It can be a place in nature, a special place in your home, or somewhere else entirely.

Now imagine Jesus is there with you. He smiles, bringing you even more peace. How is He engaging with you?

Knowing that you are fully loved and accepted, tell him about the situation where you are struggling to love, respect, or include someone.

Open up to Jesus about the situation, letting Him know your thoughts and feelings about the situation and person. How does Jesus empathize with your thoughts and feelings?

Now Jesus points out something to you that you notice for the first time. You are wearing a pair of dirty glasses. Glasses through which you are seeing this situation. Jesus gives the glasses a name. What is the name Jesus gives your glasses?

He asks you to notice how the glasses are shaping the way you see this situation. He offers to clean your glasses in a way only he can. Will you let him? Imagine handing him your glasses.

After cleaning your glasses, he offers them back to you. As he hands them to you, He gives them a new name and perspective through which to see the situation. What new name does He give to them?… Notice how they change your perspective on the situation.

As you both get ready to leave together, thank Jesus for this gift He has given you.

Excerpted with permission from Better Together Study Guide: How Women and Men Can Heal the Divide and Work Together to Transform the Future by Danielle Strickland, copyright Danielle Strickland.

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Danielle Strickland

Danielle Strickland is an author, speaker, trainer, and global social justice advocate. Her aggressive compassion has served people firsthand in countries all over the world — from establishing justice departments for the Salvation Army to launching global anti-trafficking initiatives to creating new movements to mobilize people towards transformational living. Affectionately called the “ambassador of fun,” she is host of DJStrickland Podcast, cofounder of Infinitum, Amplify Peace, and Brave Global, and founder of Women Speakers Collective. Danielle is married to Stephen and lives in Toronto, Canada, with their three sons.

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