Week 2: Creation Waits
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, tell of a time you experienced suffering (it could be emotional, spiritual, and/or physical).
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Read Romans 8:12-25
- Verses 12 and 13 contrast where life according to the flesh leads (death) with life animated by the Holy Spirit, which enables us to overcome our sinful and selfish nature. (Both verses end with the verb “to live” in Greek. Also note that, in Romans, Paul uses the words translated “flesh” or “body” not to refer to our physical bodies, but to our selfish nature.) As we’ll see in the next question, Paul builds on this contrast to affirm that those who live by the Spirit are children of God, children who receive their worth as children of “Abba” and are co-heirs with Christ. What might it mean to be a co-heir with Christ? [There is freedom, v. 12; there is a responsibility to live in newness of life, v. 13, to live not according to fear, v. 15, but as children of God, verses 15-16.]
- In verse 15, Paul contrasts our status as children of God with those who are slaves. In Roman times, only the children would receive the full share of inheritance. With that being the case, what is Paul’s point that we are co-heirs who share in Christ’s suffering and his glory? [We don’t just share in the glory or in being in God’s presence for all eternity. We also share in the suffering that comes from being in a fallen world. Just as all creation longs for redemption, so do we.]
- What might it mean for the creation to be in “labor pains” (v. 22)? [While there is suffering now, there is also joyous anticipation for what is to come.]
- What is the role and responsibility believers have as people of hope in what is to come? [The suffering that we experience here will not have the last word. God’s justice and righteousness will. The church, the community of believers, is called to embody this here and now.]
- What is the difference between “the power of positive thinking” and the hope we have in what God has done in Christ? [Our hope rests on the secure foundation of what God has already done, specifically in the resurrection of Christ, and what God is continually doing as the Spirit empowers believers.]
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). Ask for a volunteer to lead the group in prayer or read the following prayer in unison:
God of Resurrection hope, we, along with the rest of the whole of creation, long for the day when your righteousness will fill the earth. May your Holy Spirit empower us to be people and a community who depend on and can discern where you are guiding us and to whom you are leading us to be in ministry with and for. Amen.