For me, “my people” are my family, my friends and neighbors, my Grace community, and Aaron Rodgers (though I don’t think I’m on his list… yet).
Now, the consider the people you call “my people” in light of what you understand about God and the Gospel. Are there any names on the list that evoke difficult questions for you?
Are there any for whom you might ask, “Is there injustice on God’s part with that person?” Or “Why has God made them like that?” Or maybe you see some of their circumstances and wonder “Has God rejected them?” Or perhaps among your list of “my people” there is one who has walked away from faith, and so you ask “Did they stumble in order that they might fall?”
In Romans 9-11, the Apostle Paul takes up the list of his people, the Jews, and literally asks these very same questions (cf. 9:14, 20; 11:1, 11). And though they are difficult questions, Paul’s wrestling and reasoning leads us toward hope in God even if we, like him, live with “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” for the circumstances of some of our own people (9:2). I’m looking forward to talking about the Jews, talking about “our people,” and talking about the good and faithful God who is in the midst of both.
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SEE IT // BE IT
(WEEKLY COMMUNITY GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE)
Title: Together For Good: Election Connection // Scripture: Romans 8
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
This week we continued our series “Together for Good” through the book of Romans. In Romans 9–11, Paul works out the anguish of his heart for Jews and Gentiles alike and invites us to feel and understand God’s heart for all people. As we have already learned, years before this passage was written, the Jewish community had been kicked out of Rome. Years later they were allowed to return. When they returned to Rome they found their church in a different state than they had left it. Paul writes Romans to this combustible community so that together they become one in Christ—working together for good in their world. But this is no easy task. There are hints that Gentile believers have been marginalizing the Jewish believers. And now Paul takes this situation head on. In a combination of personal passion and strategic insight, Paul graphically demonstrates God’s work of election through the Jewish people for the salvation of the world. Through this election connection, Paul both honors the Jewish roots of the gospel, while demonstrating the way the Gentiles have been grafted into it. In doing so, we find not that God’s mercy is limited but that it is expansive.
THE MAIN THOUGHT keep this in mind as you facilitate discussion.
Election is not about God’s mercy having limitation—it’s the connection through which God’s mercy expands its mission.
SEE IT – Questions 10-15 minutes
Picture (What is the story saying?): What parts of Romans 9–11 were the hardest for you to understand? Why? (Discuss these questions as a group). How did John define election? (Not about salvation but about task) What role did Paul suggest the Jews have played in salvation history? How does election play into mission? How did Paul (and Jon) use the picture of an olive tree to demonstrate God’s work here in this passage? What does this picture tell us about who God’s people are? How does this picture keep us from arrogance? How does this picture keep us in awe?
Mirror (Where am I in the story?): Who are your people? (neighbors, family, friends). Paul is in anguish over his people. How are you in anguish for your people? Do these people walk with Jesus? Do you have a community they want to be part of? How can you actively live on mission for your people with your life?
Window (How does the story change how I see those around me?): What kind of task is God specifically calling you to or has He elected you for? How might the world change if you completed this task?
BE IT – Practice Which of these areas is God speaking to you about this week?
Change UP – Exercise
Do a search of all the questions that Paul asks in Romans 9–11. Read these questions aloud to your group. Feel the weight of these questions together and let them stir both your heart for God and your heart for your people.
Change IN – Group Activity
Paul’s people were the Jews. Who are your people? Take some time to have your group list out all the people that are in their life and what relationship they have with them. Then invite your group to anguish for these people by asking them to reflect on what needs these people have. Encourage your group to share their reflections together and then think through how the gospel is the answer to these needs.
Change OUT – Life Application Assignment
Does your community have a mission? Take some time to list things that could be missional outs for you as you reflect on the needs you discussed in the Change In exercise. Choose one of the outs to do together as a group in the next few weeks to feel and act on the “election connection” we have learned about 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.