In more ways than one, this week is back to school. Not only are Gwinnett County Public Schools starting up, but also at Grace we’ll be opening a fresh reading of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

But why Romans? Why does this massive message to a bunch of 1st-century Italians (and others) matter so much for us, a bunch of 21st century Snellvillians (and others)??

Part of the answer lies in the apostle’s original reasons for putting pen to vellum, which begin to appear from the letter’s very first words. But really, the reason is dynamite… literally. In Romans 1:16, where Paul says the gospel “is the power of God,” the original Greek word (dunamis) is the same root that gives us our English word “dynamite.”

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SEE IT // BE IT

(WEEKLY COMMUNITY GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE)

Title: The Gift and the Goal // Scripture: Romans 1: 1-17

ARRIVAL / SOCIAL TIME 15-20 minutes Spend the first 15 minutes or so of your time together catching up and socializing with one another. Also find time to catch up together on how the assignments from last week turned out.

SERMON REVIEW 5-10 minutes
In a time of turbulence and unrest, when our world seems bent on pulling apart, we recognize parallels in the city of Rome from Paul’s letter to the Romans around 57-58 A.D. The Jewish people were just 100 years from slavery, disbursement, and exile from Rome, and upon their return they found that life had changed. The settlement of Rome had become a gathering of diverse groups exhibiting disunity of thought, beliefs, practice, and lifestyle. Yet Paul centered his heart on Rome to establish a foundation for launching the gospel further west. He knew—indeed felt obligated as a servant of Jesus—to preach that the only thing that would bring unity of both Jews and Gentiles was the gospel. He proclaimed, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

THE MAIN THOUGHT keep this in mind as you facilitate discussion.
The good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is the place (gift) where we can find unity (goal) with others.

SEE ITQuestions 10-15 minutes
Picture (What is the story saying?): Why was Rome a place of significance to Paul? With so many faith backgrounds and lifestyles, why would it be important to bring unity to the people?

Mirror (Where am I in the story?): Where in your personal life do you find disunity? Where have your affinities (your preferences) brought you into community with others? Or pulled you away? Where do you need unity in your life?

Window (How does the story change how I see those around me?): Paul proclaims the gospel as the one story that brings all people together. Where can you make one small shift in your own affinities that could draw you into closer unity with others?

BE IT – Practice Which of these areas is God speaking to you about this week?
Change UP // Exercise 15 minutes
Spend some time quietly asking the Lord these two questions: What inward thoughts and beliefs do you want me to know that follow an unhealthy pattern and bring disunity into my life? What are the next steps you want me to take, or thoughts you want me to release, so that I may walk in greater freedom and unity with you and others?

Change IN // Group Activity 5 minutes
If we want to be changed by the gospel, this would need to come from a radical inward shift. Just as Paul wrote of his longing to strengthen others and “be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith,” pray for one another. Write names of your group members on small pieces of paper and place them into a bowl. Pull names from the bowl and commit to pray for one person this week to experience the power of God in their relationships and become agents of unity and restoration at home and at work.

Change OUT // Life Application Assignment 10 minutes
What did you think of during the “Window” section? There is a saying: “Your perception is your reality.” Ask the Lord to reveal perceptions you have that do not reflect his character and need to shift with his guidance this week.

CLOSING PRAYER 5 minutes
Take a few minutes to gather any prayer requests and pray for each other to SEE IT and BE IT this week.

Jon Stallsmith

Jon Stallsmith

Jon Stallsmith

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