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Lesson for August 23rd, 2014

The Church

Scripture Focus

Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 28:1; Matthew 5:23, 24; 7:1-5 ; 18:15-18; John 15:1-5; 17


Jesus taught very important concepts about the church, including its foundation and unity.

Materials Needed

Paper, pencils, whiteboard, markers

Connecting with the Scripture Topic

  1. In your work, do you spend more time dealing with things or people? Which do you prefer? Explain.
  2. Which member of your extended family is the rock—the one whose presence and wisdom helps everyone else stay grounded? What qualities do you see in that person that helps him or her be such a stabilizing influence?

Sharing and Receiving Scripture

  1. Divide into two groups: those who are task-oriented and those who are people-oriented. Have each group find two or three Bible texts that support its focus. Next, share texts with the opposite group: the task-oriented people will share the importance of tasks, and the people-centered group will share the importance of relationships. Then discuss: Which focus should the church have?
  2. Thought Questions

As stated in Deuteronomy 32:4 and Psalm 28:1, what is the main significance of God as our Rock?

  1. God is all about accomplishing the task (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  2. God is all about relationships (Psalm 28:1)
  3. Apparently God is a perfect blend of the two.
  4. Whichever we need—a task accomplished or a relationship enhanced—we can rely on God our Rock.
  5. This just shows that the church is founded on the true Rock, not on any human being.
  6. Other...

How can the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-21 be achieved?

  1. It will happen when we all love each other perfectly.
  2. We will be united when we all believe in the same core values.
  3. Unity comes when we all look at Christ, only and always.
  4. We must do all the same things uniformly.
  5. Only God’s Holy Spirit can unite us perfectly.
  6. Other…

According to Matthew 7:1-5, is there any room for judgment in the church?

  1. Jesus told us not to judge, so I don’t need to worry about anyone but myself.
  2. This text is about judging very carefully and judiciously because we’ll be judged in the same manner.
  3. We can still judge some situations, but we must first make an honest assessment of our own hearts.
  4. If we are going to condemn others, we’d better make sure that we are blameless first.
  5. In the church, we remove the speck from someone else’s eye to help, not condemn, him or her.
  6. Other…

Read Matthew 5:23-24. What do you think would happen if everyone in the church reconciled his or her differences every Sabbath before entering the sanctuary?

  1. People would sit in different spots and with different people than they normally do.
  2. Our churches would fill up.
  3. Many would stay away rather than have to say “I’m sorry.”
  4. Sabbath-morning smiles would be genuine rather than forced.
  5. Maybe Jesus would come!
  6. Other…

Applying the Message of Scripture

Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.

  • Option 1: Write a rap verse based on the theme of unity (if you’re not into rap, choose another style of music). Try to describe what a united church looks like and how God views such a church. If time permits, perform your composition for the larger group.
  • Option 2: A rock can either be a firm foundation or a crushing force, depending on whether you are resting on it or below it. On the whiteboard, draw two rocks and make two lists: one above one rock and the other below the other rock. In the first list, write the aspects of church life that you believe are resting on the rock. In the second list, write the things in the church that you believe God wants to crush.
  • Option 3: Honestly assess how you believe your community views your church. Do others see you as warm, loving, forgiving people? Do they see hypocrites in the church? What can you do to help your church show the character of Christ to your neighbors?

Valuing Scripture in Your Life

  1. Are you fully integrated into your church community? Spend a few minutes reflecting on your connection to your church. How can you come even closer to those with whom you worship?
  2. Are you a force for unity or division in your church? In the time allowed, consider if you are resting on the Rock or are in danger of being crushed by it. If changes are needed, what can you do to improve your situation?

Next Week's Scripture Focus

Matthew 5:14-16; 24:14; 28:19-20; Luke 24:48-49; John 20:21; Revelation 14:6-12

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