Ch. 9 Its All About Me (Finding the Center of God’s Will)
“And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:34-35
Over the last 50 years American culture and people have become more self-centered and “me-focused.” This reality has influenced the Church, our theology and Bible reading & interpretation. Sociologist Christian Smith coined the term moralistic therapeutic deism in describing the dominant “religion” among American teens. The purpose of religious faith in this worldview is “providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents” and views God as existing to meet human needs rather than humans existing to do the will of God. (p.195-196) Clearly, this thinking is not limited to teens but describes many in our modern culture. What’s in it for “Me” thinking affects our understanding of the Gospel as well as our Biblical interpretation and application.
In Jesus’ teaching above who is the “Me” we should be focused on? What does Jesus mean when He says we must “die” to self (“me”) in order to be His follower? What areas of your life does this presently speak to?
(Discuss your views/thoughts)
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
The Bible is a set of books for all people in all generations. Though cultures, human tools (technologies) and systems change in history, it seems evident that mankind’s nature and behaviors have been consistent. We see selfishness, covetousness, evil actions, wars, etc. in past and present human history. However, God’s nature and character doesn’t change nor does His desire to have relationship with people who respond to His love. Thus, we can learn much from God’s interactions with people in past history as recorded in the Bible. However, the authors caution Western “me-centered” readers not to confuse a passages meaning in its historical context with present day “universal” application. When reading a passage we should seek to determine what its meaning was to the original audience before asking how the passage applies to our lives. (p. 198-199, p.208)
1. What is your favorite O.T. Bible story and why?
2. What principles/truths from it apply to our lives today?
(Discuss your views/thoughts)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
“When we realize that each passage of Scripture is not about me, we begin gradually to see that the true subject matter of the Bible…is God’s redeeming work in Christ. God is restoring all of creation (including me), but I am not the center of God’s kingdom work.” (p.208) Instead of focusing on “me,” our culture needs a reformation of thought (and action) focusing on God’s purposes (HIStory). Perhaps that’s what the “Me-focused” generation is really needing and “searching” for!
3. As you follow Jesus, do you have a sense of God’s calling/purposes for your life?
4. How are your gifts (spiritual & natural) as well as your academic & professional training “fitting in” to God’s plans?