We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
Our world is filled with things that function on our timeline - everything we need is usually where we need it when we need it. So why shouldn't God be the same? When we look at how we interact with God, or what we expect of him in our worst moments, it's quite possible that we'll see a picture of an "on demand God" in our own heads. But God doesn't work on our schedule, and doesn't just do what we want when we want it - and understanding that helps us start to see God for who He really is.
BREAKING THE ICE
Mike said that usually, we often bring an inherited or invented picture of God to the table - and it's usually either wrong or incomplete. Throughout this series, as we've talked about different pictures of God, what have you seen as the main source of your personal pictures of God? Where did they come from?
Life On Demand
So much of our lives are on demand: binge watching shows, information at our fingertips, groceries delivered, and 2-day free delivery. How have these on-demand, customizable things affected your view of the world? Your patience? Your contentment?
- Don't you even care?
In Mark 4:35-41, we read about a tense moment for Jesus' closest friends.
"35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
- In our worst moments, we can sound a lot like the disciples: "God, don't you even care?" In what moments throughout your life has it been hard to believe that God is with you in the middle of a crisis or struggle?
- In those moments, what were you expecting God's intervention to look like? How were you tempted to demand that He help you in a specific way?
Dig a little deeper
The follow-up question is important here! Identifying our hardest seasons of life is important, but it's more important that we start realizing how those seasons have affected our view of God. So when we ask ourselves what we were really expecting of God during those seasons, instead of just jumping straight to the conclusion that "He didn't show up", we can begin to see that our expectations didn't line up with who God actually is. Rather, we were hoping for God to do something that is actually opposite of who he really is.
- God's intentions toward us are always good
If we don't believe that God's intentions toward us are always good, then we simply can't trust him when things go south. In the picture of God you've inherited or invented, are his intentions always good? How can we know?
- We exist for God
Colossians 1:15-22 says this about Jesus: "15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
- If we really think about how this verse describes Jesus, it becomes clear that we exist for Him - not the other way around. But that's not easy for us to grasp or accept as people that like to think we are in control of our lives. How does the idea that we exist for God affect you?
- Do you think that from the outside, others can see that your life is not your own?
some follow-ups to get conversation rolling
If you're hearing crickets for too long, try these things to get the conversation rolling or get someone to agree and start talking!
- Does it scare you?
- Does it frustrate you?
- Is it a new idea for you?
- Do you think your life and decision-making reflects this?
NO ONE has "arrived" in this department. Our whole lives are a process of surrendering more of ourselves to God - it's never over. So this is not a guilty question! It's just a chance to find the next area that God is inviting us to surrender to Him.
IN you, not just for you
In the middle of a struggle, we are normally just looking for a way out - a fix to our problems. We want God to do something FOR us. But in every situation, God cares more about who we are than what we do.
What's a struggle in your life in which you need to focus more on what God is doing IN you, instead of FOR you?
How can you move closer to God during a current struggle in your life? What would help you tangibly focus on God's presence beside you, instead of how you want him to fix the problem?
READ. PRAY. DO.
Start the book of Job in the Old Testament. It's a long book, but worth the read! The central question of the book of Job is this: How do you trust God even when life isn’t fair and you suffer for no good reason? Job’s story invites us to consider what it means that God runs the world by wisdom, and how this truth can bring peace in dark times.
Before reading, check out this video to get a good picture of where the story of Job is headed!
- Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
Father, it is hard to see you as you really are. I've inherited and invented pictures of you that lead me to see you as I want you to be - and not how you really are. I am sorry that I have misjudged and misunderstood you so often - and I'm thankful that you love me through my confusion and wandering. Give me the right view of you, the creator and savior of the world. Help me trust that you have nothing but good intentions for me, and that you're always working IN me when it feels like everything around me is going wrong.
Mission is moving soon! When we get there, there will likely be a rush of interest from new people - and that means we have a huge opportunity to help people stick around!
Connection with others is what makes people feel at home. It’s not the coffee, the message, the music, or the comfy seats - it’s the people.
So for the next few weeks, we are going to stretch ourselves!
Introduce yourself to someone new at church next week.
I.e. Hey! My name is ___ we haven’t met before!! Have you been around Mission long? Or are you new?
*Try to look for someone who is like you in some way that you can picture getting to know better.