When Jesus told His followers to love others as He loves (John 15:12), He didn’t include any limitations, exceptions, or escape clauses. Throughout the Gospels we see our Savior honoring and loving every person He encountered, no matter their race, creed, preferences, or sin. His transformative love was given without restraint to grant every human being access to God’s Kingdom as royalty -- the son or daughter of the King. Now, more than ever, we are being called to let the Holy Spirit do the urgent and critical work of examining our hearts, transforming our thinking, and spurring us into the healing and unifying actions that love requires.
As we kick off a new sermon series called Listen, Learn, Love, leaders are encouraged to visit this special webpage with additional resources, including a practical list of 10 things we can each do right now to love others. You’ll find these resources to be helpful for you or anyone in your group who wants to explore the topic of biblical justice and racial unity in greater depth.
Prior to beginning today’s study or asking the opening questions, it is important to start your time together in fellowship. Whether you are continuing to meet online or are transitioning to gathering in person, spending at least 15 minutes together catching up socially is vital for your relationships and sense of connectedness.
- What is something you love about your culture, background, ethnicity, or the way you were raised?
- Is there anything you've struggled with about your culture or family traditions?
- Have you ever experienced a situation where your cultural practices interfered with someone else's? What was it like to navigate that challenge? What things were helpful?
For this sermon study guide series, we will be utilizing a video study called Oneness Embraced by Dr. Tony Evans to supplement the sermon content each week.
Dr. Evans shares kingdom-minded approaches for biblical justice and social restoration in this 6-session video Bible study. Fully encompassing areas of unity, history, culture, the church, and social justice, Evans looks to the scriptures for the balance between righteousness and justice that is crucial for applying in this generation and in training the next. A full section on black church history provides a background and understanding that has often been neglected.
SESSION 1: Embracing Racial Oneness
What does Jesus mean by unity when He prayed in the garden the night before He was crucified (John 17)? The goal of racial unity is not sameness but oneness. Unity is oneness of purpose with a common agenda while appreciating and celebrating our differences to advance the Kingdom. Without unity, we are blocking the witness of Christ in our lives to others.
As a group (online or in-person), watch this 13-minute video together. (If you do not have a Right Now Media login, get a free subscription through Cornerstone by filling out this form.)
WATCH on RIGHT NOW MEDIA
It is vital that you do not skip this step since the discussion questions below are based on the concepts presented by Dr. Evans.
After watching the video, spend time sharing your reactions to the concepts Dr. Evans presented. Feel free to encourage group members to also discuss the sermon message and the Beyond Sunday video for this week.
If your group feels led to spend the remainder of your time together praying instead of discussion, we have created this prayer guide.
Read John 17:6-23 together.
- In the video, Dr. Evans said that the goal of racial unity is not sameness, but oneness.
- Why do you think that humans long for sameness? What makes it so comfortable?
- How do you think Jesus intends for us to practice oneness?
Read Ephesians 2:13-22 together.
In the video, Dr. Evans talks about the powerful effect of adding an egg to a mixture of oil and water in order to make mayonnaise possible through the process of emulsification. The eggs attract oil and water so that they can blend together to create a creamy sandwich spread.
- Have you ever experienced a situation that included real unity even while being immersed or surrounded by diverse people, perspectives, or lifestyles? If so, how do you think that moment was achieved?
- How does this example help us to understand what unity means and what makes it possible?
- How is the sacrifice of Jesus the great emulsifier in bringing people together?
According to Dr. Evans, Christians across the world do not have unity because we’ve abandoned what the cross means and kept the name only. He said the cross means more than knowing you’re going to heaven. It means that your identity is transformed by Christ and found in Christ.
- How have you, or how have you seen other Christians, behave or act in name only? How does this happen with individuals and with groups of people?
- What does it mean to find your identity in Jesus?
- What should we as followers of Jesus do in order to put the meaning of the cross at the center of our faith? What would be the outcome of doing that?
- The video ends with a football analogy. What did Dr. Evans say are the hallmarks of a winning team? What do they focus on? How do they work together?
As we close out the discussion today, finish by spending time in prayer as a group.
Begin with prayers for healing and unity on a broad scale, then for the communities in which your members live and work, and finally for our Cornerstone church body, that we all might position our hearts to love others as Jesus did. (To spend even more time in prayer, you may want to use this guide as a group, or visit Daily Steps for individuals.)
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to Jesus each day and explore what it means to love others as He did.
Spend Time Alone with God
Daily Steps is a weekly devotional message designed as a companion to this sermon study guide. You will be guided as you spend time with God through personal reflection, Scripture readings, and prayer prompts.
DAILY STEPS - LISTEN LEARN LOVE - WEEK 1
Take Another Step on this Topic
Visit this special Listen, Learn, Love webpage with additional resources, including a practical list of 10 things we can each do right now to love others. These resources will help you explore the topic of biblical justice and racial unity in greater depth.
Watch CF Beyond Sunday this Monday!
After each sermon, our pastors and various church leaders sit down for about 20 minutes to have a lively discussion about the weekend's topic. It will be posted on YouTube and the church website on Monday night, June 8!