The events we see at the surface-level of our lives are the result of more complex things taking place beneath the surface: for instance, our emotions from a difficult day affect our reactions to our families. In some ways, it’s a lot like DNA! Even though our bodies are composed of DNA, we never see our DNA…we just see the expression of DNA. In the same way, our church family has a DNA that works itself out in our identity in unique ways. Join us this weekend as we look at some of the under-the-surface details that make up who we are at street-level, and how we can live beautiful lives beyond what we imagined.
1. We are radically kingdom-focused.
- Because God has saved us by grace, through our faith in him, we know that our lives are ones of dependency upon him. From the moment we are saved, until we meet the Lord face-to-face, nothing in our Christian walk is about us earning favor from God. However, while God is opposed to earning, he is not opposed to effort. The goal of our Christian life is to be people who are radically kingdom-focused. We seek his kingdom in two primary ways: in our own lives, as we set Jesus on the throne of our hearts, and outwardly in the world, in the way we relate to others and engage the world around us.
- If we aren’t seeking God’s kingdom, we are probably seeking our own. When we do that, both our love for God and our honoring of others get relegated below our own desires. But when we seek first God’s kingdom, he re-shapes our desires to match his, and we not only end up with everything we need, we become agents of radical, beautiful transformation in the world.
Describe a situation this week where you were more focused on your own kingdom than God’s kingdom. What were the results? How could you flip a similar situation next time so that you seek God’s kingdom first?
2. We are provoked by urgency.
- As we just reviewed, we are not saved by God works, but interestingly, God has created us for good works. Our job is not to be owners of our lives and resources, but stewards. God entrusts his resources to us, and we are responsible for them.
- In these verses, Paul calls us God’s “workmanship” – literally, his “poem” or his “work of art.” Like any artist, God had a specific intent for each work of art (person) he crafted, so each of us has a unique calling on our lives, which God has gifted us for.
- Because we don’t know when Jesus will return, we live our lives provoked by a sense of urgency. Most of us have at least some idea of what God’s calling on our lives is (if not, that’s something we should be praying about now). But it’s easy to leave it in the “planning stages” and never get to a point where we take action. It takes honest self-reflection, but as a group we can evaluate our lives and hold each other accountable to taking the steps God has put on our hearts to take.
To each of us God has given certain hopes, dreams and ways in which we’re called to further his kingdom. Are there any things God has put on your heart that you’re leaving in the “planning stages” rather than acting on them? In what ways do you know you need to have more of a sense of urgency about the life God has entrusted to you?
3. We embrace the tension.
- There’s tension present in all of life as God designed it. For instance, how can Jesus be fully God and fully man? But he is. We can’t embrace one of his identities without the other, so we have to hold both in tension. Similarly, in this passage, we see that we were not saved by works, but we were saved for works. So we can’t have faith or works, and we aren’t saved by faith and works. Rather, we want to embrace a faith that works.
- As we walk with Jesus, there are other ways God invites us into places that can be confusing or seem uncertain. But he also invites us to embrace the tension of the paradoxes in our lives because those are the places we need to trust him.
What is something either in your past walk with the Lord, or something you are currently walking through, where you’ve had to hold in tension some of the things God has put on your heart? How have you chosen to trust him even in confusion and uncertainty?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?