Throughout this sermon series, leaders and their group members are encouraged to visit this special webpage with additional resources that are updated on an ongoing basis. 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.
About the Listen, Learn, Love series: 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.
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.
- When you were a child, what did you imagine that God looked like? What do you think the picture in your head was based upon?
- How has the picture of God in your mind changed as an adult and why?
- What are some ways you have “put God in a box” in the past? How did you unknowingly apply your own knowledge, heritage, experiences, and preferences to your understanding of who God is, what He can do, or how He might act?
In the video, Dr. Evans said, “You cannot box God into your perceptions of Him. That’s where we’ve failed because we’ve allowed our cultural perspective on God to color how we relate to one another. Instead of centering in on who God says He is, we center in on what we think He should be based on who we perceive ourselves to be.”
For this sermon study guide series, we are 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 2: The Kingdom of God Defines Us
Dr. Evans challenges believers to not allow our differences to get in the way of our faith or block us from living out God’s truth. Our identity is to be found in Christ and Him alone, not our culture, race, or preferences. Despite extreme differences and cultural restrictions, Jesus modeled loving others in His encounter with the Samaritan woman. Paul and Peter also clashed over racial and cultural differences.
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 that 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 4:1-45 together. Although it’s a longer passage than what we normally read together, it clearly presents an essential truth for all Christians about loving and honoring others the way that Jesus did. Just as we struggle today, the issue of racial differences dominated both the historical time period and the environment in which Jesus lived.
- According to the video, what were the reasons for the animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans?
- What kinds of things did the Jews say about Samaritans and what lengths did they go to in order to avoid being near them?
- Review Jesus’ conversation with the woman. Knowing that the cultural and religious restrictions of that day prevented any interaction or association between Jews and Samaritans, what key things did Jesus do that defied the current conventions?
- What key things did the woman do that likewise defied cultural norms and accepted behaviors?
- Samaritan laws, although not strictly Jewish in approach, also condemned the woman’s lifestyle choices. How did Jesus show unconditional love to a woman that even her own people ignored at best, but most often condemned?
- Read verse 27 again. What was the disciples’ reaction when they found Jesus talking with the woman at the well? Why do you think that they kept their mouths shut even though they were stunned to see Jesus talking to her?
Dr. Evans said that Jesus didn’t give up who He was to reach someone else. He embraced His own obvious ethnicity and culture, but He didn’t let it interfere with His Godliness or His mission. Jesus didn’t let the cultural issues of His day dictate His actions. His commitment to His divine purpose and God’s truth far outweighed anything about His humanity.
- How does Jesus’ willingness to drink water from the cup of the Samaritan woman still serve as an example in our modern society?
- Is there anyone you encounter regularly who’s like the woman at the well and might be feeling lonely and rejected because of who she is or her choices in life? What might happen if you attempted to have a conversation with her or did something nice for her this week?
Read Galatians 2:11-21 together in both a literal translation of the Bible (ESV, NIV), as well as one paraphrase (The Message, The Passion Translation).
In the video, Dr. Evans explains that Peter had previously received God’s instruction to eat with Gentiles (Acts 10:9-11:18). Yet when his fellow church leaders showed up, he felt compelled to obey a set of rules that Jesus had clearly come to abolish. When Paul arrives on the scene, he publicly admonishes Peter for falling back into the old ways in order to look good in front of the other leaders. In verse 14, Paul declares that Peter was not acting in accordance with the truth of the Gospel.
- Can you think of any verses from the Bible that have been distorted or manipulated throughout history?
- Why do you think it’s so easy for humankind (of any generation) to twist the truth for their own purposes or to base it on their own preferences?
- Picture yourself in this scene with Peter, Barnabas, Paul, and the other church leaders. Who do you relate to the most and why?
- What are some ways that Peter could’ve handled the uncomfortable situation differently?
- Would you be comfortable doing what Paul did? Why or why not?
Dr. Evans said his favorite verse in the Bible is Galatians 2:20. Read that verse together again -- in several translations if desired. Dr. Evans closes with this statement: “Your identity is to be in Christ, not in culture. As long as the culture supports Christ, enjoy it. When culture diverts from Christ, your culture is wrong.”
- What are some ways that you have allowed other aspects of your life to shape your identity, versus who Jesus says you are and what He’s called you to do?
- How does finding your identity in Christ give you more freedom than finding your identity in other aspects of your humanity, socioeconomic position, or your abilities?
- How does finding your identity in Christ help you to be more humble in serving others who are different than you are?
- How do you relate to the idea that culture, traditions, or race sometime determine your actions more than your faith?
- When you contemplate cultural and racial differences in your own neighborhood, school, or town, can you think of any actions you can take to put the Gospel’s mission above your own preferences or priorities?
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 2
Take Another Step on this Topic
Visit this special sermon series 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 15!