CONNECTED IN FAMILY/BODY
Throughout history followers of Jesus have experienced the importance of having the support of other believers to stand up against tyranny or persecution. We can see many instances where the church would have crumbled had the body of Jesus followers not stood together against a government or ruler that wanted to twist the church for their own purposes. The importance of the body is made evident during these moments as one person, or small group, discovers others standing with them in their most dire moments. From these seemingly hopeless moments, candles are lit, and the light grows person by person to pierce and envelop the darkness that seeks to surround them. What does this mean for you? What can you do to light a candle to pierce the darkness?
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
1. This week’s message referred to a story about Laszlo Tokes, a Romanian pastor, who chose to be a light in the darkness of Communist Romania. Who has been a light in the darkness in your life?
2. The message talked about the importance of the body of the church as a force for change in the world. Think about a time that you’ve been able to be part of that change, or have witnessed it firsthand. How did seeing the church function as God intended affect you?
3. Read Ephesians 4:11-13. Paul refers to the church as “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers” and states that it’s their responsibility to equip the people. Do you believe that you are one of the leaders he refers to? What has been revealed in your life for you to believe that? Or, what is keeping you from equipping others?
4. Read 1 Peter 2:9. In Ephesians 4:7, Paul tells us that we are each given spiritual gifts. This passage goes a step further in stating “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.” How does this encouragement from Peter change the way you look at yourself and your giftings?
5. Read Ephesians 4:14-16. Paul talks about followers of Jesus becoming spiritually mature and how each part of the body has its own special work to help the body grow. Think about the maturity Paul refers to here and the way it was broken down in the message. How can you, as part of the body, work with the other parts around you to develop each other and the larger body?
6. Paul encouraged Timothy to take the teachings he received and pass them on to reliable people who could lead others (2 Timothy 2:2). These reliable people were not just holy men and pastors, they were those who had grown in their faith and were willing and able to help others grow. Do you ever say to yourself, “I could never develop another person”? Who or what causes you to believe this? How can you look at this differently, knowing how Paul and Peter referred to the church body? What practical steps can you take to be a light in the darkness?
Ephesians 4:11-13 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (NIV)
1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)
Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 4:14-16 – Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
SPIRITUAL OUTCOMES— gatewaychurch.com/spiritual_outcomes/serve/