September 18, 2022 – Pastor Mark Albrecht
Message Big Idea – Rather than using a building, a worship service, a business, or a political institution, we observe Jesus describing his Church (ekklesia) as a called-out people with a common belief that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Furthermore, this collective group should have an offensive posture, not in a militaristic sense but rather resembling that of its leader, humble and serving. Lastly, as members of the Bride of Christ, our chief responsibility is INDIVIDUAL and COLLECTIVE faithfulness to our Groom as he builds his Church.
- Take some time and share with each other: What are you grateful for today? What are you struggling with today?
- What kind of collective groups have you been a part of throughout your life (including work, hobbies, volunteerism, etc.)? What makes these positive or negative experiences? What kind of leaders have you encountered? How have you viewed your personal identity in relation to the group identity?
- Read Matthew 16:13-20 (Read twice – ESV and either NLT or Message)
- Go around the group and briefly retell the passage in your own words.
- What word or phrase “jumped off the page” and intrigued you the most? Why?
- Take a moment to discuss what Jesus meant by “this rock” upon which he “will build [his] Church.” (Leaders: Steer the conversation toward viewing “this rock” as referring to Peter’s confession as opposed to Peter himself)
- Matt. 16:16 states “[Jesus is] the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Why is it important that this be the foundation upon which the Church is built? What other foundations have you seen being used for the establishment of religious belief/spirituality (Christian or other)?
- Matt. 16:18 describes how “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [Christ’s Church].” How are we to interpret this passage, offensively or defensively? (Leaders: reference Mark’s description of the Church surrounding Hell as if evil were under siege with no refuge and no power to stand against Christ and his Church)
- Historically, two Christian figures paint contrasting views on the offensive call of the Church. Pope Urban II, the initiator of the Crusades, said, “Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked. Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain Christ. Wear his cross as your badge. If you are killed your sins will be pardoned.” Whereas Francis of Assisi, the founder of the humble Franciscans, proclaimed, “Where there is discord may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. Where there is despair, may we bring hope.” Which perspective reflects Christ (militant and coercive or humble and serving)?
- Take a moment to reflect upon Christ’s humble leadership of his Church. Does it sometimes seem more attractive for you to look toward certain powers of the world (government, activism, etc.) to combat the evils of the world? How can you solely establish our comfort, security, and certainty in Peter’s confession concerning Jesus?
- Pastor Mark noted that one of the chief responsibilities of the Bride of Christ is to remain faithful to her Groom. Reflect and recount some ways that you have personally been unfaithful as a member of the Church (share only if you are comfortable). How has this contributed to collective unfaithfulness within the Church? What are some ways you can (individually and collectively) practice and encourage faithfulness of the Bride of Christ?
Live It Out:
- What is one thing God seems to be asking you to do in response to this passage? (i.e. “I will ….”)
- Who can you tell about this “I will” statement in the next 48 hours?
- Journal about your time in God’s Word this week. Stop to listen to what He might be telling you. Celebrate His presence through His Word!
- Spend some time intentionally praying for the posture of selflessness, humility and service needed as a member of Christ’s Church. Prayerfully meditate on Jesus’ leadership and his abounding love for his Church. Repent of past unfaithfulness. Ask the Holy Spirit for clarity in future opportunities to practice faithfulness as Jesus builds his Church. Amen!