Are you the kind of person who’s going to move through life being able to have relationships that are meaningful and fulfilling and significant? Are you able to relate? — Louie Giglio
If you have ever been near schoolchildren on a playground, one of the things you are bound to overhear is the accusation, “That’s not fair!” Indeed, fairness and a sense of equality is something children carry with them from a very early age. This has much to do, of course, with the deep need for justice God has placed in all of us. It also has something to do with what we learned, early on, to expect from life: that at its best, everything should come out “even” in the end.
But here’s the problem. As Christians, we know from the crucifixion of Jesus that life, justice, and even God are not fair.
Life is not fair because of the sin that corrupts and destroys the people of God. Justice is not fair because God’s justice is accomplished by an act of supreme unfairness, Jesus’ death on the cross. And God himself is not fair because in spite of what people may deserve, God keeps offering grace to everyone. This is who God is. God can’t help it. God is a mercy giver, and in a world that thirsts for fairness, sometimes this can be hard to accept.
This week in Relat(able), Louie kicks off the series by drawing connections between our love of God, our neighbors, and ourselves. He argues that if one of these loving relationships gets out of order, it will skew the other two as well. They are all connected in a kind of dynamic interdependence, and what fuels them is God’s radical mercy and love for his people.
Louie also suggests that our relational health might have as much to do with our ability to receive mercy as it does with our ability to give it, which brings us back to fairness. The kind of mercy God offers is not fair. It just is not. We did not earn it. We cannot justify it, and yet it is there, available to us, every day. This week’s session is about opening up to this kind of radical, unfair love. The kind of love that is at the heart of what God is doing in Christ. The kind of love that is changing the world. The kind of love that can also change lives.
When we open up to this kind of love, everything changes. The question for this week is, “Are you open to that?”
Welcome and Checking In
Go around the group and invite the members to introduce themselves, and then answer the following questions:
- Which scenario recharges your batteries: spending time with people, or spending time alone?
- If you could describe your hopes for this study in one word, that word would be: ____________. Why did you answer the way you did?
Hearing the Word
Read Matthew 20:1-16 aloud in the group. Invite everyone to listen for a fresh insight during the reading.
- In groups of two or three, share your answers to the following questions:
- What was one thing that stood out to you from the reading? Was this a new insight?
- What situation do you imagine Jesus might have been addressing when he told this parable?
- What does this parable have to say about “fairness”? Does God have a different definition than we do?
Watch the Video
Play the video segment for Session 1. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.
The degree to which we receive what God has given to us determines the degree to which we are able to have meaningful relationships with ourselves and with other people.
Two reasons why we don’t accept what God wants to give us: (1) we don’t think we’re worthy, and (2) we don’t believe that what he has to offer is better than what we currently have.
Apart from our relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship we will have in this life.
The number one flaw we experience in relationships is that we expect more of other people than they can realistically give and be in our lives.
Jesus can relate to us because (1) he took on the constraints of entering into time and space, and (2) he took on flesh and blood and became human just like us.
Jesus relates to us by (1) not giving us what we deserve, and (2) coming all the way to find us and show us mercy. This affects how we relate, because in the same measure we receive this love, we are able to extend that love to others.
Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.
- Before everyone shares in the large group, turn to one or two people next to you and finish this sentence: “After watching the video, one question I now have is…”
- Do you consider yourself a people person? Why did you answer the way you did?
- What is one thing you learned about relationships from the family you grew up in?
- In the video, Louie notes that a primary flaw we experience in relationships is that we expect more of other people than they can realistically provide. Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
- We are beloved; it is our identity in Christ. Which is harder for you to do: to be honestly critical of yourself or to receive praise? Why did you answer the way you did?
- Louie remarks that what we expect from others is certainly not what we want all the time from God. We want Him to give us way more grace than we give to other people. Do
you relate to this statement? If so, how? If not, why not?
- In the Matthew 20 parable, Jesus challenges His audience to consider the ways they resent God’s lavish grace being shown to people they think are undeserving. Have you ever felt as if there was someone who did not deserve God’s grace? Has that person ever been you? Did you learn anything from Louie in this session that helped?
For this activity, each participant will need a blank piece of paper, a pen, and an envelope.
In this session, you have explored what it means to be able to relate. It involves health in three relationships: your relationship with God, your relationship with yourself, and your relationship with others.
Take a few minutes to pray, and then answer the following question on one side of the piece of paper you have been given:
If God could grow me in one of these relationships, which one would it be, and how would I want to grow? Be as honest as you can be. No one will ever see it but you.
Once you have written your answer, write any specifics you want to include about the relationship and then seal it in your envelope. Finally, as a sign of being open to God’s movement in this area of your life and accepting God’s view of you, write the word beloved on the outside of the envelope.
Put the envelope in the pages of this study guide. Each week when you return to your guide, let it be a reminder to you of your prayer and how God sees you. You are beloved.
Close the session by reading Psalm 103 aloud as a prayer:
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children — with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.
The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.
Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.
Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul. Amen.
Excerpted from Relat(able) by Louie Giglio, Study Guide. Copyright Louie Giglio.
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