Life Group Lesson for the Week of November 12, 2017
Going to church and being the church are two different things. We may think we are Christian because we go to a building or particular space that has been consecrated for corporate gathering, but merely going to church doesn’t make us a Christian. The church isn’t a building or place. It is people who have consecrated themselves to Christ, through daily surrender, who are the church. Wherever fully devoted followers ‘go’ throughout any given week, so goes the church. In public, in private – Christ-followers take Christ with them. So the question is, if you are a fully devoted follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, how well are you being the Church?
Read James 2:14-26
Like in a marriage or even being a part of a family, Christ-followers are members of His Body, a family of faith. When the going gets tough—and it will—we don’t just check out. And yet, that’s what happens too often. We go to church, something doesn’t go our way, someone doesn’t speak to us, we get convicted over the message and we decide it’s not worth it. We convince ourselves that we were doing pretty good without the church before, so why bother now. It’s like putting off going to the doctor or the hospital because you’re not that sick yet.
1. Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do” (Matthew 9:12). Think about the following 2 questions. How would you respond if someone asked you one (or both) of the following:
Why should the local church be more like a hospital than a country club?
How is worship more about finding healing than hiding?
Meeting people’s needs, helping them find healing and wholeness, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. That is why we roll up our sleeves and commit to serving. We don’t give up and we refuse to quit when trials come our way (see James 1:2-4). Too many lives hang in the balance for us to fall away under self-absorption! Jesus wants His followers to show mercy and stay-the-course of helping others find Christ. We do this through building genuine friendships, by inviting others to worship or Life Groups, or simply asking them to serve alongside us in a ministry. In the journey, they too will begin to experience Christ.
2. James says, “Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (v17). How does faith in action prove that we really do care about people coming to know Christ?
Jesus says, “For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Matthew 9:13b). In the long run, when an individual honestly realizes their need for a Savior, that person becomes a candidate for salvation and healing. How has being honest about your need for a Savior opened the door for healing in your life?
Realizing we need a Savior is not a weak thing. It is a good thing! The Plain Truth states: “In worship devoted followers own their sin, find their healing in Jesus, and then invite others to experience His transforming love.” Once we own our stuff, we can give it to the Lord. Once we confess our sin and give it to the Lord, He will help us begin to deal with it. And once we start dealing with it honestly and working through it, we experience the Lord’s forgiveness and healing. Once we begin to experience wholeness in Christ, the Holy Spirit will prompt and motivate us to share His love with others.
A willingness to stay-the-course and help others find Christ is a sign that we have truly experienced salvation. A dull, indifferent, or even bitter attitude towards inviting others to know Christ is an indication that something is wrong. Are you refusing to serve and be the church where you live and work? If so, it may mean that you have never fully surrendered to Christ to begin with.
3. Where are you when it comes to being the church—putting your faith into action through regular worship attendance and intentionally inviting others?
Read Galatians 6:4-10. We are called to work in Christ’s Kingdom. Whether you sit idly by, or whether you have decided to roll up your sleeves and work, you and I will reap something (whatever we have sown). What will your harvest look like 100 years from now?
Making a few simple changes now can change your future harvest. Think about you and your family can go to the next level when it comes to regularly attending worship. How can you represent Christ and His Church more faithfully throughout the week, in public and private? How can you be a little more intentional about inviting your family, friends, and neighbors to church? They are more open to an invitation than perhaps you realize.
4. Where are you feeling prompted to serve in the coming year at Christ Church? Prayerfully look through the Joshua Menu and ask the Lord to reveal His work for you.
In the space below, write down 3 ways you will be more intentional, even if it is baby steps, to be the church. How will I put my faith (my words) into action (my ways)? How will I connect my actions with my faith?