How He longs for loving unity. “That they all may be one, as you, Father are in me and I in You.” Precious are those words in John 17 sent to us by Jesus. Can you sense in them the intense desire by Jesus for harmony and love shared by all members of human families? But can true harmony exist in a world of selfish sin? Is sin such an obstacle that the mere existence of family life predicts conflict and trouble? What is the secret to having a family life of unity in Jesus? Can that happen in this sin-troubled world? How?
- Christ the center. Gentiles and Christians–what a recipe for conflict in the early church of Christ! Why? How can the cross of Christ reconcile the views of men and women, Jews and Gentiles, and Christians with their own views? Imagine the cross of Jesus with many lines converging at the center, where we can clearly see the cross. What can you and I do to place ourselves at the center of that circle? If we choose not to align ourselves with the struggles of the cross, where do we tend to drift and wander? Discuss the perspective of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship who bluntly states that “we cannot establish direct contact outside ourselves except through him, through his word, and through our following of him.”
- Becoming one through His love. Isn’t God’s love a natural part of being a member of the human race? If not, why not? What can you and I do to support unity among God’s people? If we are criticized, condemned or otherwise ignored, can we carry on anyway with the work of sharing God’s love? Or does God recognize as His witnesses only those who have mastered the art of unconditional love to all? Our lesson author points out that the disciple John was quite the rascal before he was converted. Why did Jesus accept him into the fellowship of early church leaders? If you’ve ever been considered as someone with a rough personality, did you find a way of solving this problem in Jesus? Can anyone who chooses to reflect God’s love find a definite and sure way to do so? How?
- Selfishness: family destroyer. Ellen White made the comment that in five minutes, our selfishness and pride could be laid aside–but only if we did what in those five minutes? Have you ever seen a small child insist, “Me, me”? What do we find as a cure for selfishness at the foot of the cross? Christ never behaved in a selfish manner. Is that true? Can we reach the point in our Christian experience when we are no longer tempted to think primarily of ourselves and our desires? What role does the cross of Christ play in helping you and me to overcome selfishness in our lives? Is it possible for us to be so surrendered to Jesus that we lose selfish tendencies? Or must we wait until Jesus comes to be completely free from all selfishness?
- Submission. If you know, or think you know, more than others about some aspect of salvation, is it a good idea to let it be known that what you think should be widely proclaimed? And if you’re right, or believe that you are , shouldn’t you let people know–and that they are wrong? Why should there ever be value placed on submission? What interesting law or rule was introduced in Ephesians 5:22, 6:1, and 6:5 for the treatment of believers with less inborn or assigned cultural leadership? If these directives astonished early believers, should they have an effect on us today? Could these texts affect the assignment of leadership in our church such as the exclusive selection of men for ordination, for example, with their “obvious” leadership skills?