Small Group Sunday School Class

For Ages 18 and up

Your Teachers…the cool kids.

Please don't tell them that they're really not that cool.

Just smile and nod like the rest of us.

Michael Hood

"Growing in Christ as a group is an absolutely amazing thing! Seeing this class blossom has been such a blessing and I'm excited to see all the amazing things to come for us as a group. And we're more than just a Sunday School class….we're truly friends."

Michael


Jenny Hendrix

"I feel this class will be so impactful. Sometimes you come out of high school or college and don't know where to fit in at church. This class solves that problem and I am so proud to be a part of it and look forward to all the blessings it has in store for us."

Jenny

CURRENT STUDY SERIES

"Making Space" by Jeff Vanderstelt

A look at how we can make room for Christ in our busy lives.

Lesson 1 – March 13th – Making Space

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

We receive wisdom by being teachable to God, submitting our hearts to God, and surrendering every aspect of our lives to God.

INTRODUCTION

How would you define “wisdom”?

Who’s the wisest person you’ve ever met? What made him or her so wise?

Following Jesus means living in His wisdom every day. The purpose of Making Space is to learn to take wisdom and apply it to the things that matter most in our lives. Regularly ask yourself the following questions throughout this study: 1. Is your busyness focused on the right things? Are you busy doing the things that matter most? 2. In your busyness, is your life producing life? Is it abundant? Is it fulfilling, or is it destructive? Is it draining the energy out of you and the people around you? With those questions in mind, let’s dive into this study.


UNDERSTANDING


How have you considered Jesus to be the wisdom of God and the way to wisdom? In what ways is Jesus wise?

Often when we read Proverbs, we’re looking for helpful nuggets to guide our busy lives. Many of the ways we try to conquer our chaotic lives are organization, rules, boundaries, and new technology. But Proverbs isn’t about us. It’s about the Lord. Fear of the Lord means looking to Him with reverent awe. We can’t understand wisdom apart from a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Proverbs places wisdom within the context of the fear of the Lord.

If wisdom is applying the truth in the right way, at the right moment, to get the best from you or another person, how does Jesus personify that quality?

Wisdom is living in a way that’s life-giving. How did Jesus do that?

Jesus is gracious, compassionate, hospitable, ever-present, hardworking, generous, loving, and brave. His character might be most readily expressed through His submission to the Father and Holy Spirit in every moment of His life.

Jesus faithfully pursued, listened to, and walked with God the Father and the Holy Spirit to the cross and into the resurrection. His work in the gospel displays and offers abundant life to everyone, for every aspect of life.

Jeff said that not only does Jesus forgive us for our foolishness and sin, but in the gospel He also becomes our wisdom. Through Jesus, we get the Spirit of wisdom. How does that gift change who we are?

If we’ve received wisdom through Jesus, how should we continue to seek wisdom?

If we want to be wise, we must acknowledge that we’ve been fools who need Jesus—the wisdom of God for us. Wisdom comes to us as a gift from God. Because God saved us, called us, and chose us, the wisdom of God has come to us in Christ. Jesus says if you look to Him and follow Him, He will be wisdom for you. That means you’re not only forgiven for your foolishness, but also you get the Spirit of wisdom, who dwells in you and gives you power and direction for a new life.

What do our schedules, attitudes, and actions reveal about our wisdom or foolishness?

What does your current daily routine reveal about who you believe Jesus to be and to have done for you? What keeps you from seeking the life-giving wisdom of Jesus?

Throughout Proverbs and particularly the first nine chapters, Solomon tells us we have a clear choice: wisdom or foolishness. The wise know God and experience a full life, while the foolish refuse God and experience death. The wise surrender all of their lives to God, while the foolish surrender their lives to the fleeting things of this world.

How do you know whether you’re living in the fear of the Lord? You’re willing to surrender everything to Him—everything. Those who fear the Lord withhold nothing from Him. In other words, they joyfully give their lives to the One who is life.

APPLICATION


How will we practically demonstrate our faith in Jesus as the true wisdom of God?

How will we walk toward wisdom together?

Lesson 2 – March 20th – Money & Work

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

Jesus is the wisdom of God in our work and with our money.

REVIEW

What challenged you most in last week’s personal study?

What’s one way you’ll seek to grow toward a fear and knowledge of Jesus? What help do you need to grow?

Over the past week we’ve had time to reflect on what it means to fear the Lord. If we want to have wisdom for our priorities in life, we’ve got to start with a fear of the Lord. People who fear the Lord are teachable—willing to submit to what God’s Word says and to learn from God through His Word. People who fear the Lord are also repentant. As God reveals pursuits they need to turn from and areas in which they haven’t trusted or submitted to God, they turn to God for forgiveness through Jesus. People who fear the Lord surrender. They willingly say to God, “My life is Yours. I want You to speak into every area of my life. What do You want to say to me?” People who fear the Lord submit not only to God’s Word, but also to wise counsel. They seek wisdom from people who know and fear God.

MONEY & WORK

One area in which people have difficulty fearing the Lord and surrendering their lives is money and work. God is interested in every part of our lives, including our work. In today’s session, we’ll apply the wisdom of God to our money and our work.


What does flourishing look like? Why is it easy to trust in riches?

How has God proved Himself to be big and trustworthy?

When God is small, we lie in bed at night wondering who’ll provide for us tomorrow. A trivialized God causes fear, anxiety, and insecurity because even if that God cares, He can’t do anything; we must provide for ourselves. We must hoard our money for our good. When God is small, I’m big. A minuscule God drives us to make ourselves important: “Look what I can do! See what I’ve made! Look at how important I am!” When God is small, you become the center of the universe, and you’ll be the one whom everyone should worship. While we might not ever say thoughts like this out loud, we live them out in the way we relate to our finances and our careers.

How big is God in your approach to work and money?

Making God small is foolishness, the writer of Proverbs tells us, because it doesn’t reflect a fear of the Lord. God is big. God is weighty. God is good.

What did Christ give, and how did He give?

How did Christ labor with endurance and faithfulness?

What was the result of that work? How do we benefit from His work?

These verses describe the way Jesus did His work on earth. First, we see that Jesus gave. Jesus completed the work God set before Him and gave all He had to God in order to serve us. Jesus took initiative, accepted responsibility, and finished the work. What an immense treasure we have in Christ! Jesus is the personification not only of the wisdom of work, but also of the wisdom of treasure. Christ gave up heaven for us! He gave Himself fully, emptying Himself. That’s how we pursue wisdom with our work and our money.

How does being a recipient of God’s work free us to take initiative, be responsible, and finish the task at work?

In a culture driven by the urge to earn our significance, Jesus has made us recipients of His work and His gift. In Christ, we’re significant not because of what we do, but because of what has been done for us.

When you’re rooted in who God is and what He’s done for you—when your identity is at rest in Jesus—you can go to work as a servant of Jesus, not as a slave to significance and security. Against a culture that tells you your worth is found in what you do, Jesus says your worth is found in whom you belong to.

APPLICATION


How does what you do with your money express what you believe about God?

What are you saying you believe about God in the way you approach work?

How can you use your finances to build the fame of the greatest Giver of all? How can you show what God is like as a Giver?


Lesson 3 – March 27th – Rest

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

The fear of the Lord brings about a deep, satisfied rest so that we can rest from our work, rest at work, and rest in His works.

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

Describe the last time you had a restful day or weekend.

What did you do, and what made it restful?

In this session, we’re going to talk about making space for rest in our lives. Making space for rest is important because it allows us to appreciate what God has done for us. Jesus has accomplished more for your life and soul than you could ever strategize, plan, or labor for. Take a moment to rest in that truth.


UNDERSTANDING


What are the implications for your rest if Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath?

How could Jesus live a life of rest while accomplishing the most significant career—saving the world?

Some of us aren’t resting because we don’t realize that the Sabbath isn’t a day; it’s a person. The Sabbath is Jesus. He’s your rest. Learn to rest in His work on your behalf. Jesus’ work was perfect because He rested the entire time He worked during His earthly life. He rested in what the Father said about Him.

Jesus never did any work to be accepted. Rather, Jesus did all His work because He was accepted. He wants you to enter that rest by affirming that the Father loves you through Jesus’ work on the cross. He has already forgiven you for the ways you have lived without the rest and have gone to the wrong places in search of rest. Jesus died so that you could rest in His work on your behalf, knowing the Father says over you in Jesus, “This is My beloved child, with whom I am pleased.”


What does God’s restoration bring to those who have struggled? What does replenishing look like in Psalm 126?

How does the gospel of Jesus replenish and bring joy to our hearts?

Psalm 126 celebrates the replenishing work of God for people who desperately needed it. This communal song of worship reminded people of what God had done and would continue to do. If rest in Christ is replenishing to our souls, this psalm becomes our resting song about God.

Comparing Psalm 126 with Proverbs 30:1, which depiction more accurately describes you? Why?

What causes exhaustion or replenishment for you?

The deepest need of every human heart is to be at rest with God. The rest we long for has been given to us through the restorative power of the gospel. God has raised you to new life in Jesus and has seated you at His right hand (see Ephesians 2:1-10). You are now and forever alive with Christ. Therefore, Jesus has become your rest (see Hebrews 4:9-10). Psalm 126 can be your prayer and your song because your soul is at rest with God.

What are the results when wisdom comes to us? What freedoms does the writer depict? What promises are made for us?

How can you live a life in which the wisdom of God is life to your soul (see v. 22) and you can rest without fear (see v. 24)?

When wisdom comes to us, the results are a secure path, relief from fears, renewal, a lack of worry, and confidence in the Lord. Wisdom leads to true rest, as we see God clearly for who He is and who we are in light of Him.

APPLICATION

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.

If we are experiencing satisfied rest, what impact would that rest have on our culture? Explain.

How would your rest change your interactions and relationships with others?

How would your attitude and approach to work change if it came from a place of rest instead of a place of weariness? Explain.

Lesson 4 – April 3rd – Word & Prayer

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

God’s people should commit to make space in their lives for time in the Word and prayer.

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

How did you seek to intentionally practice rest before God this week? What did that experience teach you about yourself and God?

If you observed a Sabbath, what was it like? What did you learn, and how did you experience God’s rest?

We’ve learned several characteristics of a person who is wise and fears the Lord. A wise person is teachable, is repentant, surrenders to God, and submits to God. One of the primary ways we express these characteristics in our lives is by reading Scripture and praying. In this session, we’ll focus on the Word of God and prayer as sources of understanding and wisdom.


UNDERSTANDING


What do you learn about God from this passage? What’s He like? Look for both explicit and implied depictions of His character and personhood.

How do these images compare with your mental picture of God as you pray and read the Bible?

In verse 1, God addresses us as “My son,” taking the posture of Father. God is our Father who speaks to us, cherishes our lives, and freely gives us wisdom. God is knowledgeable, He is our treasure, and He is our shield.

When we read the Bible, we’re looking for God. When we pray, we’re listening to God. Bible study isn’t about discovering a user manual for life, but about finding and understanding God Himself. Similarly, prayer isn’t a vending machine or consultation. When we engage in Bible study and prayer, we bring our lives to God to receive Him.

What does our Father do in this passage? Circle all the action words to help you see His activity more clearly. Look for both the explicit and the implied activity of God.

How do these actions remind you of Jesus’ life—what He did or spoke in His ministry?

How do these actions compare with your typical approach to God in prayer? How has God worked in your life in these ways?

When we read the Bible and pray, we’re also looking to see and understand God’s work, God’s life, and God’s action in this world. Therefore, we ask God in prayer, “What have You done, and what are You doing?”

In this passage, we see that God gives commands, speaks, gives understanding, protects us, gives bountiful wisdom, and watches over us. God makes Himself known and generously speaks into every area of our lives to bring wisdom and knowledge that is pleasant to our souls.

How do God’s character and actions change your identity? Again, look for explicit and implied statements about your identity.

How should we live, and what should we do? In this passage, look for explicit and implied ways to walk in obedience.

Here are just a few implications of this passage. We’re called to receive God’s words, give attention, call out to Him, raise our voice to Him, seek Him like a treasure, understand Him, find knowledge, receive wisdom, and understand justice. Many of these implications reorient the motivation and the manner in which we come to God through Bible study and prayer.

You’re a son or daughter of God. In Christ, you’re protected, guarded, upright, and a dwelling place for wisdom. You’re His child, not because you did your best but because God is your Father. You’re protected, not because you’ve guarded yourself but because God is your shield. Your identity is rooted in His identity.

APPLICATION

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.

When and where will you read the Bible this week? List a specific place and time.

What would it look like to rely on the Word of God and prayer in all areas of life?

What specific area of your life could be improved by cultivating more intentional time with God?

How might personally seeking God’s Word in all areas of your life change our community? What kinds of things do you think could happen if we did this?

Lesson 5 – April 10th – Heart

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

Walking in God’s wisdom demands that we prioritize the care of our hearts.

INTRODUCTION

What was your experience of Bible study and prayer like this past week? What stood out to you in your time with God and His Word?

Why do you think our inner lives or our hearts matter?

We’ve learned several characteristics of a person who is wise and fears the Lord. A wise person is teachable, is repentant, surrenders to God, and submits to God and others. A wise person makes space in life for what matters most. This session will focus on the heart—the way we care for our souls.


UNDERSTANDING


When you feel that something is wrong in your life and you’re struggling, how do you try to fix the problem?

“Follow your heart” is popular advice today. Read Jeremiah 17:9. What’s the problem with following your heart?

We’re not outside-in people but inside-out people. When we feel that something is wrong with us, most of try to fix the problem by doing. We change our schedule. We tell our-selves we’ll eat better, exercise more, or spend less time on our phones. But the problem isn’t any of those things; the problem is our hearts. They’re sick and in need of God’s help. We can’t change our hearts through behavior modification; we need heart transformation.

Why do we need God to create a new heart in us? How does this happen in our lives?

Read Psalm 139:23-24. Why should we continue to search our hearts even after we’ve believed in Christ?

It’s impossible to have a clean heart without gospel transformation. God must come to us and make us new. We need to examine our hearts and invite the Holy Spirit to continue to change us. The gospel isn’t just for the moment we believe. We need the gospel every moment of our lives. Our hearts are made new by the Holy Spirit the moment we believe; they’re renewed as we pursue the Spirit day after day.


Reflect on the past week. What did you talk about? What did you say to your spouse? Your children? Your friends? What did you say or write in emails to coworkers?

What were the tone, attitude, and emotion behind those words? How did your heart drive what you said?

In this passage Jesus said what comes out of our mouths is born and bred in our hearts. He also spoke the wisdom that good fruit doesn’t come from bad trees. In other words, the fruit of our lives corresponds to the health of our souls. Jesus was explaining that if we want to know what’s going on in our hearts, we must listen to ourselves.

The beautiful reality of the gospel is that God is concerned about your heart—about your soul. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection purposefully restored, redeemed, and healed your heart from the power, presence, and penalty of sin. Jesus didn’t come for the healthy but for the sick (see Matt. 9:12). If doing this study causes you to realize the need in your heart, Jesus is ready to receive you.

What’s God like in these passages, and what’s He doing? What does the psalmist do in these two psalms? What are the action verbs? What do they reveal about the psalmist’s heart?

What confessions does the psalmist make on your behalf? In other words, how do these psalms reflect your life?

We often avoid making space in our lives to focus on our hearts because we’re afraid of being overwhelmed by what we’ll find there. It’s scary to imagine all of our wounds, desires, and disappointments, and we think life is easier if we avoid them and press on. Seeing God as our hope makes us contented children. We find peace in our souls when we wait on and hope in God. The Bible invites us to cry out to God. To wait on Him. To find rest.

According to these verses, what will guard your heart? Where does that peace come from?

How often do you think about God’s concern for your soul and your inner well-being? What would seeking His peace look like?

If you don’t slow down and say, “God, work on my heart; reveal what I’m believing; reveal what I’m thinking; reveal what I’m wanting; reveal what I’m lacking,” you’ll continue to run away from your heart. However, your heart is driving everything you do. If it continues to go unexamined, you’ll lose your life chasing things you don’t even understand. You’ll be tired. Your soul will be exhausted.

APPLICATION

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.

What would it be like to live in a community in which everyone took seriously the condition of his or her heart?

What are some barriers to making space in our lives to examine and deal with issues of our hearts?

How can we encourage and support one another in caring for our hearts?

Lesson 6 – April 24th – Friendship

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

A wise friend attends to the heart and not surface matters alone. Jesus is the perfect friend and the model of wisdom.

INTRODUCTION

Who was your best friend growing up? What made him or her a good friend?

How have your friendships changed in adulthood?

How have your friendships changed as you’ve grown as a follower of Jesus?

In the video, Jeff will explain that a wise friend is one who can draw out the deep waters of our hearts (see Prov. 20:5). The image used here refers to a deep well that extends far beneath the surface. Wise friends are able to enter relationships that go below the surface. These types of friendships draw out the content of our hearts in the same way water is pulled from the deep recesses of a well.


UNDERSTANDING


What’s the greatest love? How did Jesus demonstrate that love to us?

Think about Jesus’ relationship with His disciples. How did Jesus stick with them? How did he draw them out? How did He forgive them?

Jesus’ relationship with the disciples demonstrates the way and wisdom of friendship. Even Jesus, who was God, didn’t isolate Himself but pursued friendships. Even Jesus, who was the Messiah, sought the help of His friends. Over the course of years, Jesus spent countless meals, walks, workdays, and even parties with His disciples. At the end of His life, He called them His friends and said He would die for them.

Who are you apart from God? Who are you in Christ? What does it mean that Jesus has called us His friends instead of servants?

In Christ, we’re no longer enemies of God or slaves to sin; we’re now friends of God. No longer do we have to clamor to prove ourselves, get noticed, or live in fear. Jesus has made us friends with God. If you want to have real friends, you first have to know friendship with God through the cross of Jesus Christ. He forgave you of your sins, set you free from your bitterness, healed the wounds of your past, and gave you the love of God to be a friend. True friendship happens in no other way.

What does Jesus call us to do in the context of our relationship with Him?

Why does the love of God at work in our lives call us to forgive others? How does forgiving others regularly draw us into deeper levels of friendship?

What adjustments in our priorities and schedules would this kind of friendship require?

The new commandment Jesus gives us is to love one another the way Christ loved us (see v. 12). He wants us to seek friendship and unity with one another in such a way that the world will know we’re friends of Jesus. Forgiveness is an essential element of Jesus’ friendship with us. When we love as Jesus loved and are friends as Jesus is a friend, we forgive as Jesus forgave us.

APPLICATION

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.

Who is God calling you to pursue in friendship this week? What will you invite them to do? When will you contact them to set this up?

How can we be a community that makes space to grow together as friends beyond the weekly group session?

How can we be the type of Christian community that makes space for friendships with people who don’t believe in Jesus?

Lesson 7 – May 1st – Parenting & Family

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

Children are trained up by their parents to be sent out to make a difference in a world that desperately needs hope.

INTRODUCTION


If you’re a parent, recall the time before you had kids. What surprised you most about parenting?

What’s a major lesson you learned from a parental figure in your life?

This week we’re going to talk about parenting and family and learn ways we can make space to care for and raise our children. Parenting is a sacred calling that the Lord gives us. We lead our kids to Jesus so that they can know what God is like and how they should relate to Him as their Father.


UNDERSTANDING


Do you see yourself as the primary disciple maker of your children, or have you delegated that responsibility to someone else? How is the Great Commission being fulfilled in your home?

How can you intentionally train your children to walk in repentance and faith?

In other contexts the word train refers to the process of teaching a newborn to eat. This is a beautiful picture of what God does with all of us. Scripture tells us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8). God wants us to get a little taste of Jesus so that we’ll want a lot more of Him. Then that desire grows throughout our lives. That’s the background of the word train. Parents train up our children with a gentle application of the goodness, beauty, and joy of Jesus Christ. We lead them to see how good the Lord is. We lead them to taste and want more. This is the best way to prepare them for adulthood. Training them in the way they should go means nurturing them with the good grace and satisfying substance that Jesus is to our souls. That’s what we do when we parent our children.

How can you make time for conversations, spontaneous lessons, and explanations of the gospel?

Consider the unique way the Lord has made your children. What might be the most effective way to train each of them according to their individual bent?

This verse could be literally translated as “Train a child according to his way,” meaning each child is unique and has an individual personality that God will delight to work through. As parents, we have a responsibility to train our children in light of their uniqueness.


How have you experienced God’s loving discipline in your life? What did you learn from His discipline?

How can you discipline your children like a shepherd who guards and cares for his sheep?

The concept of discipline in these verses isn’t a picture of punishment or harsh treatment. Rather, the rod should remind us of a shepherd who devotes his life to caring for sheep. He uses his rod to gently nudge the sheep toward green pastures where they can eat or toward quiet waters where they can drink. If a sheep is running in the wrong direction, the shepherd can throw the rod and strike the sheep’s legs to keep it from going off a cliff or into a dangerous place. If a predator comes near, the shepherd can use the staff to fend off the predator so that the sheep won’t be harmed. This is the idea of discipline in these proverbs: in love we correct, rebuke, and protect our children. This is the way God disciplines us.


What are a few age-appropriate ways you can teach your children to implement some of the wisdom you’re gaining in their lives?

As we’ve seen throughout this Bible study, Jesus is the perfect example. How can your children encounter Him in the way you live your life?

We’re called to lead our children in following Jesus. As we lead, we’re an example of what it means to be a man or a woman for them. We don’t simply talk to them about God; we demonstrate a life lived close to God in repentance and faith. When we fail, we point to Jesus as the perfect Son, the true humanity.

How can you demonstrate repentance and faith with your children?

Do you seek your children’s forgiveness? Do you share what you’re learning and ways you’re growing?

Every time we share ways God meets us in our struggles or redeems us in our brokenness, we point our children in the way. Every moment we share ways God’s grace has grown our faith, we lead them toward the way of abundant life. Our children need to know and see our need for Jesus.

APPLICATION

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.

How will we obey God in our parenting? What’s one way God is calling you to grow as a parent?

How can we encourage and bear one another’s burdens as we train up our children in the way they should go?

What keeps you from having quality time with your kids? What might you need to eliminate from your schedule to have more concentrated time with them? What will you do with your kids this week?

Lesson 8 – May 8th – Hospitality

LESSON VIDEO

MAIN POINT

God’s people are called to apply the wisdom of God to hospitality.

INTRODUCTION


What comes to mind when you think of hospitality?

Where’s a place you’ve experienced excellent hospitality? What made the experience excellent?

This week, we’re going to address the final area of wisdom—hospitality—and ways we can welcome others into our lives. All the previous areas we’ve studied make it possible to practice hospitality.

Hospitality is making space for people to be with us in community—to be who they are and to become more like Christ. In Scripture, strangers are people who live in a society other than their own. Elsewhere, the word strangers is translated “foreigners,” “aliens,” and “sojourners.” Strangers are people who aren’t yet assimilated into our community. Hospitality means making space for strangers.


UNDERSTANDING


The Book of Proverbs ends with wisdom personified in a noble woman. This example combines all the characteristics and expressions of a wise person into one wise, noble woman.

How does the noble woman live a wise life? What are the things she’s responsible for?

How does she demonstrate wisdom in the ways we’ve studied?

How does she show hospitality, and for whom does she make space?

The noble woman of Proverbs 31 works hard, yet she makes time for her spouse and children. She’s a giver, not a taker. She’s a friend to the poor and the stranger. She demonstrates hospitality by making space for others. She’s a shining example of what it looks like to apply the wisdom of God to the practice and discipline of hospitality.

Could the woman be hospitable if she hadn’t lived wisely with her finances and work? Could the woman be hospitable if she hadn’t cared for her family? Why not?

What would hospitality look like if she hadn’t been wise in other areas?

It’s all about priorities. Wise people are hospitable to strangers because they make it a priority. They have the physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational space to welcome others into their lives. If we don’t make space for what matters most, we won’t be able to make space for others. Our lives won’t have the bandwidth. Wise people welcome others into their lives as family and with the love of God.


In this passage, God commanded His people to treat strangers with hospitality. It’s a cascading command, beginning with not mistreating them, then treating them as if they belong, and finally loving them as ourselves. God’s command is to love outsiders and strangers as we would love our own families.

Who are the strangers, outsiders, and neighbors around you? How would you characterize your relationships with these people?

In what ways does this command challenge you to love the people around you?

Consider Jesus’ teaching on loving our neighbors in Luke 10:25-37. In this passage, an expert in the law asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (v. 29). Jesus responded with the parable of the good Samaritan as a picture of what it means to love others as family. Through this parable, it becomes clear that our neighbor is anyone who needs the gospel.

How did the good Samaritan love and show mercy to his neighbor? What specific actions demonstrated hospitality?

How does this definition of neighbor challenge your idea of the people to whom you’re called to show hospitality?

How did Jesus embody the actions, love, and hospitality of the good Samaritan?

As Jesus told this parable, He was telling His story. The story of how He entered the world of human suffering, pain, and sin that had left us for dead. The story of how He picked us up, carried us to safety, paid our debts, and healed our wounds. Being hospitable and loving the stranger are at the core of wise living because they’re at the core of the purpose and passion of Christ. This leads us to the third aspect of hospitality: loving as you’ve been loved.


In what tangible ways has God loved you? How has He welcomed you into His arms?

What fears do you have about showing hospitality to others? How does God’s love for you challenge any reasons you have for withholding love from others?

John told us that from an unending wellspring of love, the Father has called us to be children of God. Our displays of hospitality aren’t to prove ourselves, show off, or gain approval from others. As children of God, we already have His love. We freely love others with the same welcoming arms with which God has welcomed us.

APPLICATION

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.

How can we use what we’ve learned throughout this study to welcome strangers into our lives?

How will we, as a group, welcome others into our lives and the family of God?

What impact would a biblical view of hospitality have on our city or neighborhood?