Community Group Questions 9/23/12

Tip of the Week:
Please share whichever of the following announcements apply to your group
  • West Pines 1.0
    • West Pines 1.0 is an event that we have every few months that is all about letting you get to know West Pines better and letting us get to know you better.
    • It's a great first step to thinking through if you should call West Pines your church home.
    • The next West Pines 1.0 is coming up on Sunday, September 30th, right after the second service.
    • We’ll provide lunch and childcare, should you need it. If you’re interested, write “1.0” on the back of your Connection Card.
  • WPMM
    • Our men’s ministry has started back up
    • They meet every Monday at 7pm in the Multipurpose Room
  • Women of Faith
    • We have one more cool event to share with - please watch this video with me
    • WOF Promo Video
    • There is a table in the back with more info on purchasing tickets for that event

Sermon Title: Passion Propelled

Main Text:  Luke 18:18-30, 2 Corinthians 8:1-8


  • A wealthy ruler approaches Jesus and asks him the quadrillion dollar question: how do you inherit eternal life? After this question what else is there? There are other big questions.  Right now the million dollar question is: how do you fix the economy. But beyond that there are other massive questions like: what’s the meaning of life? how do we find happiness? or what is love?  But eternal life and how to get it, there is nothing more significant than that.
  • Jesus asks him if he has followed the commandments? And the man says that he has kept all of them since his youth.
  • Then Jesus tells him that he needs to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor, and then to follow him.  The man is deeply saddened by this.
  • Jesus says, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter heaven. In other words, it is impossible.
  • Those around Jesus said, then who can be saved? Jesus says that it is impossible with man, but with God all things are possible.  We are only saved because God acted. Left up to ourselves, we are not even close.
  • Peter then pipes up and points out that he and the other disciples left their homes to follow Jesus. Jesus tells them that those who have given up the things that are most precious to them for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will receive many more times.
    • In Matthew’s account of this story, he adds the detail that Jesus specifies, “100 fold” the amount sacrificed. That is a ten thousand % return on the investment.
  • This is one of the most abused and watered down passages.
  • Some have tried to interpret the “camel through the eye of the needle” metaphor differently than what it is at face value, saying:
    • Jesus was talking about a small gate called “The Eye of the Needle Gate” that camels had to kneel to get through. So Jesus is just saying those with wealth have to submit to God. But there is no archeological evidence that a gate like this existed at the time.
    • Other’s say that the word for “camel” is like “rope” so a rope has to be squeezed to fit through the eye of the needle. But there is no textual evidence of this either.
    • Jesus is flat out saying it is impossible, apart from God to be saved.
  • Some have tried to divert the radical nature of the text, by saying:
    • Jesus knew the heart of this particular ruler, and knew that this particular guy needed to sell all of his possessions because wealth was his god.
    • Jesus didn’t mean that the guy literally needed to sell all of his possessions. He was testing him.
    • But on what do we base that interpretation?  Perhaps we are weakening our expectations of how radically the gospel impacts us? Maybe when we do that, we are no different from the rich man that walks away from the passage saddened.
    • Maybe Jesus told him to sell all of his possessions because that’s what Jesus did. He left the unimaginable riches in Heaven to live a life here and save us. Maybe He is saying, that’s what it looks like to “follow him.”  Maybe when Jesus says that God is the standard of goodness, He is challenging the ruler to follow in the example of the Son of God’s goodness.
  • Some have tried twisted the passage to actually fuel materialism rather than dissipate it:
    • Some say that when Jesus says, we will receive many times more, when we invest in God’s Kingdom, that He is referring to worldly wealth and luxury. Pastors will promise financial security and riches if they give money. And that only continues to motivate someone out of materialism. That is actually investing in our kingdoms and not God’s.
    • If we are truly motivated by and longing for God’s kingdom, then however God continues to bless us will be used and leveraged for His Kingdom.
  • Here is what we learn from the passage:
    • The Gospel:
      • no one is good enough to enter the kingdom of heaven
      • good is defined by God, when we compare ourselves to God, it is impossible to make it
      • It is only by God that we can make it to heaven
    • Once we have received the gospel:
      • we leave everything and follow Jesus
      • when we do we will receive many more time in heaven
      • our motivation for selling things for the poor is not to get to heaven it is BECAUSE, God did the impossible and got us to Heaven.
  • The ruler was just trying to earn heaven. So he was faced with giving his stuff with sadness.  The disciples followed Jesus out of sheer love. And following after Jesus involved leaving behind their stuff.  They did that gladly.  Once we are saved, we live radically, but with different emotions driving them.  One is out of duty and obligation. And one is out of passion and joyous compulsion.
  • We will go to far greater lengths out of joy and compassion than we would out of duty and guilt. Christians we do radical things like sell our possession for the poor out of love and admiration for Jesus. Because, that’s what Jesus did...
  • Jesus was rich. He was in Heaven, the Son of God, worshipped by all of the heavenly hosts. But He became a mere creation, the son of a poor family. He was tortured and killed by us. He did all of that to save us.
  • If we are following Jesus, then we too will become poor to save those who can’t save themselves!
  • It is amazing that we are wealthy enough, that we have the ability to give and not really feel it. But if that is all we do, have we yet truly followed after Jesus? If we give, but not to the point where we feel the effects of it, are we yet displaying Christ to the world? If our giving is more of a nod in the direction of the needy and not a sacrifice, have we taken up our crosses and followed Jesus?
  • But when we give, it is not out of guilt or duty. It is out of the sheer joy of having the opportunity to serve. There is nothing, nothing more joyous than that. Jesus says when we give, we will receive many times more.

Key Questions:

  1. If you had to pick one question that our society is most wanting the answer to, what would you pick?
  2. Read Luke 18:18-30
  3. What jumps out at you from this passage?
  4. Why would the prospect of selling all your stuff be sad?
  5. What does that reveal about our relationship to our stuff?
  6. What motivated the disciples to leave everything behind to follow Jesus?
  7. Why is it so difficult for us who are a part of a wealthy culture, to focus on God’s Kingdom?
  8. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-9. How did Jesus become poor for our sake?
  9. If guilt and duty is not to be what motivates us to give sacrificially, what does?
  10. What can we do to remove some of the distractions of this wealthy culture, so we can stay focused on His Kingdom?
  11. What needs or opportunities grab your heart when you hear about them, and motivate you to give sacrificially?
  12. How can you fuel your passion to meet that need?

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