Throughout this sermon series, leaders and their group members are encouraged to visit this special webpage which offers additional resources updated on an ongoing basis. This page will 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, Love, Learn series: We are using a video study called Oneness Embraced by Dr. Tony Evans as the primary teaching source for this study guide. (You can read more details about it below in the Watch section of this guide.)
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.
As you come together this week, it’s very important that your group makes a commitment to one another to avoid discussing political party affiliations, specific political opinions, or the upcoming election. The purpose of this week’s discussion is to help us focus on God’s priorities and the truth of His Word.
Take a moment to go around your group and ask each member to verbally commit to strive for unity by focusing on biblical truth in a loving and compassionate manner in your upcoming conversation. This means choosing NOT to focus on politics, party affiliations, or candidates, but rather exploring how God’s plan for His people should take priority over any political or cultural belief that steers our actions and guides our thoughts.
Politics have a way of bringing out the most passionate reactions in some people. Others prefer to avoid the subject at all costs. At all times, put into practice Colossians 4:6: “Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity.” (TPT) If at any moment the conversation turns to specific aspects of the current political rhetoric, STOP AND PRAY. Ask the Holy Spirit to flood your hearts and fill your group with grace and compassion toward one another. If necessary, halt the discussion entirely and spend the remainder of your time together in prayer using this guide.
- In the sermon this weekend, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil focused on the story from Acts 10 where Peter has a vision from God and subsequently realizes that God doesn’t play favorites — Jesus died so that the Gospel could be offered to everyone. As you think back on the message she gave, what impacted you the most, and why?
- What are some healthy or helpful examples of having a strong allegiance to a particular cause, discipline, or perspective?
- How do you know when having loyalty or adherence to a specific ideology, perspective, or group has crossed the line from helpful to harmful for yourself, for others, or your relationship with God?
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.
SESSION 3: God is the Ultimate Independent
In Session 3, Dr. Evans challenges believers to not allow political affiliations to take precedence over our love for God, obedience to His Word, and loving others as He calls us to do. He reminds us that no government can accomplish what only the body of Christ was designed to do — bring God’s people together for kingdom impact. Today, many Christians have allowed politics to distract us, divide us, and ultimately prevent us from working together in unified purpose for the kingdom of God.
It is vital that you don’t 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 Joshua 5:13-6:20 together. In this passage, Joshua leads the Israelites into the long-awaited Promised Land, beginning with the conquering of Jericho. Dr. Evans said he loves this story because God sends a holy messenger to tell Joshua that God isn’t planning on taking sides. Rather, He has come to take the lead. God is committed to Himself and His own kingdom.
- In the New Living Translation, Joshua asks the angel of the Lord, “Are you friend or foe?” and he replies, “Neither one. I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” Most scholars think that the commander was a manifestation of God Himself. How does reading this short conversation between Joshua and the angel shed light on how God views the affairs of humankind?
- The ESV Study Bible says that Joshua asked his question out of human understanding. As a warrior called to lead the Israelites through enemy territories, his “day job” was top of mind. However, the angel answered the question from a much higher, grander perspective — all of God’s heavenly host would be committed to bringing about His purposes. After the angel answers Joshua’s question, what does Joshua do next? What signs of spiritual maturity or character traits do you see in Joshua’s reactions in the remainder of his encounter with the angel?
- How is this story of Joshua relevant for us today as modern-day believers in God’s army charged with advancing His kingdom purposes? What lessons can we glean from this story on an individual and personal level?
- Revisit verses 7,10 and 15 from Joshua 6 and notice the level of coordination required by every Israelite. Thousands of people had to act in complete unison! Can you imagine that many Christians today being that cooperative? What do you think gets in the way?
- Israel was composed of 12 tribes of people, each numbering in the thousands with their own unique heritage and family traditions. While they were united in faith under one God, there were many potentially divisive issues among them based on cultures and preferences. With numbers that large, any one of the tribes could’ve derailed the entire campaign against Jericho. What do you think would have happened if any of the tribes had decided to allow differences to divide them from the others? How does this story apply to the various cultures, races, and denominations of Christians today?
We are reminded in the video that Christians should be Kingdom-minded citizens first and foremost, placing God’s priorities above our own political leanings. Dr. Evans states that unity among God’s people is essential for the well-being of the nation and that it is possible for Christians from different political affiliations to find ways to join together in standing up for God’s values and what is right in His kingdom. (For further reading on this subject, you might want to check out Timothy Keller’s 2018 OpEd in the New York Times entitled “How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t.”)
- What are some issues today where you can imagine God’s people coming together if we made kingdom values more important than political ones?
- What are some things churches of all denominations can do to encourage their congregations to consider God’s priorities before political ones?
- Dr. Evans implies that when moral issues become political issues Christians need to vote as a citizen of heaven, rather than being strictly guided by their political party affiliation. Do you agree, disagree, or does it depend on the situation? Why?
- What do you think would happen in America if Christians made their voting decisions based entirely on the Holy Spirit’s leading? Do you think that’s even possible?
- What was your reaction to Dr. Evans’ assertion that our identity should be based on our faith before anything else?
- Have you ever allowed other “adjectives” to define who you are, such as your ethnicity, heritage, career, wealth, family status, or culture? Share an experience from your past.
- How does allowing who you are in Christ to be defined by something other than God’s expectations and priorities, alter your relationship with other believers who come from a different background, ethnicity, or culture than you do? What about your relationships with non-believers and your ability to share the Gospel?
As we close out the discussion today, finish by spending time in prayer as a group.
Ask God to fill your group with His healing peace and holy zeal for His Kingdom’s priorities. Ask Him to invade your heart with the duality of righteous indignation and biblical unity.
Finish 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.
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 3
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.
For further reading specifically on the intersection of faith and voting, you might want to check out Timothy Keller’s 2018 OpEd in the New York Times entitled “How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t.”
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 22!