In Significant Moments (Part 3: The Poison of Partiality) – Sermon Discussion Guide – 9-24-23
September 24, 2023
Ben Phebus Rockford Campus September 24, 2023
In Significant Moments
Part 3: The Poison of Partiality
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE
Leader Development Class (Sunday nights) – Our team has come together to make space for our leaders to come together to connect, to grow, and to leave charged up to lead well. This opportunity runs weekly during the Sunday evening programming at Rockford. It is a class you can jump in on at any time. Our goal is that all of our leaders would be connected into trainings at least 4 times a year in order to keep sharp and to help sharpen others. For questions or suggestions on class topics, please reach out to Trent Heaton ([email protected]).
New Additions – We have new folks reaching out to connect about groups on a weekly basis. Please let us know if you’re able to welcome some of these new members into your group to have a space to experience Jesus’ love together.
TOGETHER IN LIFE
Fall is here! Is this good news or bad news? Why?
Name one way your family marked the seasons growing up.
TOGETHER IN THE WORD
THIS WEEK’S KEY PASSAGE: James 2:1–13
Note: We encourage you to read the entire text together as a group out loud.
The local church is supposed to be a place where everyone is welcome, no one has to hide behind any masks, and everyone gets to experience the love of Jesus. Treating some believers as more valuable than others is no small sin and causes no small trouble. Following Jesus means accepting one another because every one of us is here by grace. We must guard against judging one another by the world’s values.
Warm Up Questions
- Share a time when someone made you feel included or valued. What was it about the situation that made it stand out to you?
- What do you think of the idea that church should treat everyone as equally valuable? Does that seem like a worthy goal or is it too idealistic to take seriously?
- What are some ways that you have felt valued or included at Magnify?
Pause and Pray
As we study the Word and examine our hearts together, take a moment to ask God for help: help to see what God sees and love the way He loves; help to be aware of the ways that we treat those around us; and help to be humble as we consider our relationships with one another and with God.
“Show No Partiality”
It’s common in our culture to talk about the dangers of judging others, but partialism is a closely related problem that often goes unnoticed. Ben defined partialism as assigning value based on external characteristics or social status. We all have things we appreciate in others, and we’re wired to pre-judge people based on our past experience. But when that becomes a way of privileging some at the expense of others, we mistreat our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Read 1 Samuel 16:6–7.
- What does God specifically say He does not look at? What matters most to Him?
- Read Luke 14:12–14.
- How does Jesus encourage us to evaluate people in this situation?
- Based on this, what do you think Jesus would say to someone in the church who wants to show favoritism to a big donor, a well-connected influencer, or a charismatic leader?
- Imagine you have a friend who argues that investing primarily in relationships with rich and influential people is better stewardship. What would you say?
Competing Value Systems
This world values things like beauty, credential, position, charisma, and wealth. We shouldn’t be surprised that they didn’t value Jesus. (People may sometimes speak highly of Jesus today, but it’s often because they have stripped away the parts of His life and teachings that they don’t like.) But Jesus was rejected by the world in order that we might be accepted by God. As a result, there is no one who has earned his or her way into the church. Ever. We are all here by God’s grace and mercy, from the most impressive to the least.
- Are there other worldly values you would add to this list? Ways that we are encouraged to measure other people but that make no difference to God?
- Where do you see the world’s values influencing your life? How are people evaluated in your workplace? In your home? In your neighborhood? In other communities that you are a part of? On social media?
- In which of these worldly values are you most tempted to find your own value and worth? How has that gone for you?
- What do you think Jesus would say to you if you tried to convince Him He should love you because of that?
The Ideal Christian Community
In a striking passage of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, he talks about how our pursuit of the ideal community often ends up doing harm to the community of people God has actually placed in our lives. He talks about becoming disillusioned with others and even with yourself. This is a beautiful community—not because we’re perfect, or because you’re here to protect it, but because we are made up of people saved by Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and looking forward in hope for His kingdom to come.
- What’s one area where your ideal for church diverges from the way church is? How do you guard against making that thing more important than the brothers and sisters in Christ God has placed around you?
- What do your actions say about the way you value other people? If someone observed your life for a few weeks, would they see someone who seeks out people who don’t measure up by worldly standards, or someone who avoids them in favor of more impressive people?
- Re-read James 2:13. Is there anyone in your life right now who needs your mercy?
TOGETHER IN ACTION & PRAYER
The beautiful community has already started with Jesus Christ. He has saved us and given us His Holy Spirit, who has united us together to Him. We are already one in Christ, made beautiful because He has cleansed us. Praise the Lord!
Think of ways you can encourage one another to remember what Jesus has done and the equality we all have under the cross. Ask God to help you see those who might be left out or marginalized and where your blind spots are. Let it begin in our lives. Let us practice it in our communities. Let our church better reflect these truths.