Week 3: Hear All the People
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, name a person you like to hear from the least (it could be a politician, friend, coworker, or family member —hopefully not your pastor!).
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Read Matthew 10:24-39
- Verses 34-39 can be some of the most surprising and even shocking words of Jesus. Which statement (listed below) do you find to be the most difficult to understand and why? [Take your time with this exercise.]
- "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (10:34).
- “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household” (10:35-36).
- “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (10:37);
- “and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (10:38).
- “ Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (10:39).
- In what sense does Jesus “bring a sword” instead of peace (v. 34)? [As Jesus points out in the prior verses, claiming to be with Jesus will not necessarily make life easier. In fact, it might bring a whole new set of difficulties, as people experience persecution and misunderstanding. Just as Jesus was misunderstood and persecuted, his followers should expect to encounter some of the same.]
- However important we might conceive of families today, they were even more vital for survival in Jesus’ time. What might Jesus be getting at by stating that those who love family members more than Jesus are not worthy of him (v. 37)? (Loving Jesus first and above all helps us to put all other loves in the appropriate place.) How might verse 38 be given more context? [Our highest allegiance is to Jesus; all other allegiances, including our families, are secondary.]
- As disciples of Jesus, who strive to be like the teacher (v. 25), how might we, as individuals and as churches, hear all the people around us? How might we hear those in our community whose politics and ideas cause us discomfort?
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). Ask for a volunteer to lead the group or read the following prayer in unison:
Lord of life, you call us to life that is really life, abundant life, life full of grace, sacrifice, and compassion. Empower us to love you above all else, that, in turn, we might learn to love others and hear them on their own terms. Amen.