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The Way to Unity

Series: How to Become a Better ChurchSeries: How to Become a Better ChurchLesson 4: The Way to UnityWe’ve been talking a lot about love, which is supposed to be our distinguishing feature as followers of Christ. Now let’s zero in on the idea of unity. Being one.Our passage for this lesson is from the prayer Jesus prayed for himself, for his disciples, and for us, just before he went to his death on our behalf. It would be a good idea to read the entire prayer, but are going to focus on the part where Jesus prays for his followers in the future (us).There are lots and lots of places in the Bible that emphasize unity in the church. Many of them are in Paul’s letters, where he talks about us as a building with its various parts, or a body with its parts working together. But I want us to focus on what Jesus wants out of us as a church.John 17:20-26 (ESV) 20 “I do not ask for these [the disciples] only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be …

Inside and Outside

Series: How to Become a Better ChurchSeries: How to Become a Better ChurchLesson 3: Inside and OutsideIn the last lesson we focused on the nature of love. In other words, what does it mean to love someone. We learned it is far deeper than the emotions made trivial in pop music. It involves doing good for and to others.Now let’s get specific about love within the church. How we treat one another is important. In fact, we really kind of need each other.Galatians 6:7-10 (ESV)1 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. QuestionsDoes it surprise you that Paul uses the phrase “es…

Note from the leader

I've been hearing from several folks outside of the comment stream here on the page that they like the format of the study and they enjoy reading and thinking about the scripture, but that they are not likely to leave comments. I suppose there could be lots of folks in that bucket. I will forge ahead with this same format until people stop caring about it and stop showing up. Thanks.

The Nature of Love

Series: How to Become a Better ChurchSeries: How to Become a Better ChurchLesson 2: The Nature of LoveIn the last lesson we focused on the foundational role of love in Jewish and Christian piety and practice. In this lesson we will deepen our understanding of the importance of love in the life of a Christian. In particular, we will look at some words of Paul to the church at Ephesus and some words of Jesus himself to his disciples in preparation for his leaving them.Some of the deepest and most moving theology (meaning: information about God) in the New Testament comes in the prayers Paul prays for his churches. As a background to our first section of scripture, the Ephesians have been worried about Paul, who is in prison. Paul shifts the focus back to the church and describes the way he prays for them.Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he ma…

Love your Neighbor, even in Church

Series: How to Become a Better ChurchSeries: How to Become a Better ChurchLesson 1: Love your Neighbor, even in ChurchLet's start with the basics. If we were only allowed one fundamental Christian instruction, it would be to love God. But we aren't limited to one, so let's add the second most important instruction: love others, too. Some theologians call this the Jesus Creed. Love God and Love Others. Before this lesson is over you will understand calling it the Jesus Creed.In the upcoming installments of this Bible study, we will be looking at some specific ways we can love God and love one another. But as I said, let's start with the basics.Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV): The Shema, a foundational document for Israel and for Christians.4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach …