Be The Church

November 23
Be the Church
Matt 5v13-16

The world around us is decaying. War, violence, disease and environmental disaster are all around us. But the hope of the Bible is that there is salt and light from outside that will stop the decay and we can be that salt and light.

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Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken
- Bob Dylan

Connect

  1. Do you consider yourself more of an optimist or a pessimist? Why? Give some examples.
     
  2. The characteristic of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century is a deep and a deepening cynicism. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Engage

  1. Read Matthew 5v1-16. What things did you notice? Discuss the context of this passage. Discuss how the Beatitudes describe the Kingdom of God.
     
  2. When we look at the problems of our world we tend to ignore them and pretend things are OK, or we dwell on them and become hopeless and jaded. However, biblical Christianity is neither blind optimism nor dark pessimism. What is it?

    "I am the Light of the World!" - John 9v5
     
  3. Biblical Christianity allows the beauty creation to be qualified by the Fall, and the devastation of the Fall to be qualified by the redemption of Jesus Christ. We can be realistic about the disintegration of our planet and we can still see and appreciate the beauty of creation and be optimistic about it’s renewal. Discuss.

Apply

When Jesus calls his people to be salt and light he is saying there is darkness in the world and we are to be the light; there is decay in the culture and we are to be a preservative.

  1. Why do you think Jesus chose "salt" and "light" for what his people are to be?
     
  2. Salt and light are "distinct" and "influential". Salt and light are not just different from their environment. They are to have a powerful influence on their environment. Discuss.
     
  3. Salt and light expose darkness and decay. Is your life so remarkable that it shows the contrast between the beauty of Christ and the world around you or do you tend to blend in?
     
  4. Salt and light bring joy and beauty to their surroundings. When you think about your job, your school, or your neighborhood ask yourself, “How can I make this the best possible place?”
     
  5. Salt and light work together. The Sermon on the Mount is not about how to be better individual Christians - it is a picture of what the church should look like.

Conclusion

One day a warhorse came upon a tiny sparrow lying on the ground with its feet in the air, sweating under its tiny feathery arms. The warhorse asks, "What on earth are you doing?" The sparrow replied, "I heard the sky was falling, and I wanted to help." The horse laughs a big, sneering laugh and says, "Do you really think you're going to hold back the sky with those scrawny little legs?" And the sparrow says, "One does what one can."

"In the aftermath of tragedy and loss, we do what we can, as well as we can, and keep doing it. We clean up beaches after oil spills. We rebuild towns after hurricanes. We return calls and library books. We get people water. Some of us even pray. Every time we choose the good action or response - the decent, the valuable - it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice. The equation is: life, death, resurrection, hope. The horror is real, and so you make casseroles for your neighbor, organize an overseas clothing drive, and do your laundry... you can even offer to do other people's laundry if they have recently had any random babies or surgeries." - Anne Lamott, Stitches