Commit to a spiritual practice
1. God says in the book of Isaiah, ‘These people, they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.’ Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions? Spend time this week examining why you do what you do. Why do you tithe or give God a portion of your income? Why do you help your neighbor? Why do you teach Sunday school or attend worship? Do you do these things to keep the family happy? So that you don’t feel guilty? Ask God to purify your heart and soul and to give you pure motives.
2. Read Scripture for fifteen minutes each day this week. Choose a method of reading (for example, tackling a chapter or a section a day, practicing Lectio Divina, or reading a story of Jesus in the Gospels and thinking about where you fit into the story) and follow it. Look for a word or phrase that connects with you and let it influence how you represent God in the course of your day.
3. Do you know someone who is turned off by Christianity? Make a real effort this week to talk with them about the deeper issues—life, death, meaning and purpose. Ask the person how he or she feels. Ask questions and learn from them. If appropriate, share how living a life in Christ affects you.
Watch the Video
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for others to see:
They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men and women call them ‘Rabbi.’” Matthew 23:1-7
I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either. Matthew 23:13
1. Have you ever attended a church service out of a sense of duty or because you think you’re supposed to?
2. When it comes to church, what do you think God has in mind?
3. How much time do you spend worrying about what other people think of you?
4. Is it possible to be interested in Christian faith but turned off by Christianity?
5. Does God need us to attend a church service once or twice a week? Why or why not?
6. How do we know that God has our hearts, and that we’re not just going through the motions?
7. Bell says, “God hates it...when we put on a religious show and then we ignore the poor and the broken and the marginalized and the oppressed.” Have you been part of the show? What issues in our world today do you think God really cares about? How do you participate in the healing of the world?
8. What does it mean for our hearts to start beating more and more like God’s? How could this change the way the world sees Christianity?
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