“The Means of Christian Community – A Common Commitment”

Format: Discussion

Passages: Ephesians 4:1-6 – “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Colossians 3:12-14 – “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Talking Points:

· Recap first session…

· What do we notice about these two passages?

o Both begin with a “therefore” or “then” alerting us to the fact that the indicative realities (we’re all in Christ together) give rise to some imperative responsibilities.

o What are they?

· What do you think about this quote by Zack Eswine, Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 70 –

Just look at how often people leave a church not because of doctrinal concern but because they don’t like the music, or the Bible study, or the nursery, or the boredom that loving an ordinary neighbor in a place requires. Or they feel offended by a relationship and speak of forgiveness but do not act on it in order to move forward to the other side with each other.

One dear couple pulled their children out of our children’s program until we ‘got right’ the process for teaching kids that they expected. When I suggested that we could learn from them, they could learn from us, and we could walk through it together and come out on the other side with a stronger ministry to our children, the idea was a foreign category. They soon left our church. Staying put was not an option if preferences weren’t met and if they were expected to contribute to the remedy.

Our spiritual inability to remain with a people in a place as a family through thick and thin when not everything is how we prefer it or want it becomes apparent. We do not believe we need to stay in a place in which our feelings and needs are incompletely met. After we’ve left church after church, or job after job, or relationship after relationship, we still haven’t yet learned to ask if some spiritual skill might be lacking in us, that maybe all of these churches, jobs, and people acting imperfectly aren’t alone in their need of help. We too might need some.

Benedict called this spiritual skill ‘stability,’ the spiritual skill for ‘staying put to get somewhere.’ Whatever one thinks about all things ‘monkish,’ one cannot easily deny the reality that few of us know what it is to steadily love one another through the ups and downs of our ordinary moods, circumstances, and changes.

· Discuss…

· Why is commitment so hard? Why is it so good and necessary?