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Session 1:

Helpful Faith

Next Level | Message Series

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:35

Introduction

There are many defining characteristics that could go into shaping our sense of identity: our jobs, our family history, where we live, our hobbies, our kids, and our met and yet-unmet life goals. But despite there being plenty of available influences on our identity, many of us have still found ourselves asking the big question, “But who am I, really?” That question points at the enormous flaw to our normal thinking: we usually operate assuming that our identity is shaped by outside forces and we are simply out to discover it.

God’s next-level perspective is quite different. God invites us to choose the source of our identity and let it flow out of his priorities and perspectives. More specifically, God invites us to root our identity and faith in his love. We may come from all different backgrounds and experiences, but God is calling us to define our truest identity by our loving connection to him and one another.

FACILITATOR'S NOTES

Share Your Story

Start the conversation by using these suggested questions:

If your closest friend or family member had to give a 1-2 sentence description of you, what would they say? Why would those descriptions make it into that short list?

What have been the biggest defining factors for the way you see yourself: the influence of your parents, your career, your successes, your hobbies, your challenges, something else?

Watch the Video

Hear God’s Story

We’re going to read a verse from John 13. This verse comes near the end of Jesus’ life, where he knew that his disciples needed to learn what it meant to live a life of faith without him present with them physically. The question for his disciples was: What will define what it means to be a follower of Jesus? Will it be church attendance? Will it be praying or reading the Bible some minimum amount? Will it be living by a uniquely strict moral and religious code? Jesus answers that question in verses 34 and 35.

Read John 13:34–35.

  • Jesus says that he’s giving the disciples a “new commandment,” even though it had long been a religious understanding that people should love one another. What do you think he meant by labeling his commandment “new”?

  • The disciples were a collection of 12 very different people with different backgrounds, strengths and flaws. What would some of the benefits have been for the disciples if they started living out this commandment? What impact could loving one another have on their group?

  • Jesus makes it clear that not only would loving each other benefit them, but would be a helpful sign to people who saw them loving each other well. Why was Jesus so interested in them using love to “prove to the world” that they were his followers?

Create a New Story

In this section, let’s talk about how we’ll apply what we’ve learned from God through the Bible passage. We’ll decide on a few practical steps we can take this week to live out God’s truth.

  • What are some ways that people have been able to see God’s love through you? What are some characteristics you already have that are positive and God-honoring?

  • What are some areas of your life, attitudes, or actions that make it much harder for others to see God’s love through you? When are you at your least loving?

  • What could this group do to show each other God’s love over the next six weeks? How could being open with each other, trying hard to participate and share, and being committed to attending as much as possible benefit the sense of love and care we could experience together?

  • Is there anyone else in our lives that would really benefit from being included in this group, so that they can see God’s love more clearly?

Close your meeting in prayer, thanking God for offering us his love as the root of our identity, even though we don’t deserve it. Thank him for gathering your group and giving you a place to explore these topics together.

— For Parents —

It’s easy to compartmentalize our own faith from that of our children. Oftentimes the only crossover is when we ask, “What did you learn today?” when picking them up from school.

Instead of keeping your faith separate from your children, one of the best opportunities you have to model faith is to intentionally share about what God is teaching you. In this section, you will find a simple activity to create space to talk about the Sunday messages with your children. Your kids can understand more about what a relationship with God looks like and more about who God is to you.

WEEK 1 ACTIVITY & DISCUSSION

Daily Devotions

Day 1
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
What are some things in my life that show other people that I’m a child of God?
Day 2
You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Are there areas of my life that I haven’t fully given over to God?
Day 3
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
In what area of my life do I trust God fully? What are some areas where I hold back that trust?
Day 4
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)
Do I see myself as “God’s masterpiece”? How do I show that to others?
Day 5
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your[a] life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Colossians 3:1–4)
What causes me to lose focus on God? What could I do to keep my focus on the “realities of heaven”?
Day 6
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
What elements of my old life do I still allow to be a part of my new life? How can I let God move me further into my new life?

Ready for the Next Session?

SUNDAY MESSAGES
DISCUSSION GUIDES