John Stott says, “To live under the cross means that every aspect of the Christian communities life is shaped by it. The cross directs our conduct in relation to others, including our enemies. We are to exhibit in our relationships the combination of love and justice, which characterized the wisdom of God in the cross.”
The lessons this week will hopefully give us direction in how this is accomplished.
LOVING OUR ENEMIES
Romans 12:9; 12:14-13:5
Based on the Romans passage, how should a Christian respond to evil?
How do you respond to Paul’s instruction here? Hate sounds un-Christian, but in verse 9, Paul says to hate evil and cling to good. Consider how to hate evil, and yet care for evil doers — even our enemies.
What would a society be like characterized by Romans 12:14-16? What do the four “do nots” in verses 14-17 have in common? Also, examine the four “positive statements” in verses 14-17.
Verses 19-21 instruct us how to deal with enemies, or those who have harmed us. This is contrary to our human nature. Consider how we can carry out Paul’s instruction.
SUFFERING AND GLORY
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Think about the worst thing in suffering — also, think of some redeeming qualities in suffering.
According to these scriptures (Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9) what is the relationship between Christ’s suffering and ours? In Hebrews 4:14-16, what insights do you gain about Christ’s suffering, and what does it mean that Jesus is able to sympathize with us? Why does this give you confidence in drawing near, or coming to the throne of grace?
According to Hebrews 5:7-9, what did Jesus’ suffering accomplish for us — i.e. all mankind; all humanity? In your experience, how has suffering given you sympathy for others? How has suffering deepened your spiritual growth?
In closing — reflect on a time of personal suffering, and how you felt the presence of Christ during those times.
— Pastor John