Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making Sense of the Christian Faith

Session 3 Discussion Questions, "Missing the Mark"

1.  In what way does thinking about the human condition as being fundamentally insecure help you make sense of the world we live in?  What other ways of describing the human condition help you understand the problems and brokenness we see all around us?
2.  What are some of the ways in which we see ourselves and others trying to fill our "God-shaped hole?"  If it regularly doesn't work, why do you think we keep trying?  What are some of the problems that result from thinking we can fill our deep needs apart from God?
3.  A modern proverb says, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing."  In what way does the biblical story seem to be saying that "desiring too much knowledge" is also dangerous?

Read Genesis 3:1-24; Matthew 4:1-11

1.  From where does temptation come in each story?
2.  What is the response to temptation?
3.  What role does trust in God play in each story?
4.  How does the text seem to view the human condition?
5.  Where do we see similar temptations in our own lives?  How can we respond to them in light of the message of the story?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making Sense of the Christian Faith

Session 2 Discussion Questions - "Original Blessing"

1.  Do you read the Bible as a devotional, as story that describes how things are, as history that explains how things came to be, as a confession of faith in the God of Scripture, or some combination?
2.  When you think of "creation," what comes to mind?  Is it a point in history?  Is it something that God does?  Is it something that we do?  What about the word creating?  How does moving from a noun (creation) to a verb (Creating) affect how you think about God's activity?
3.  If we extend "creation" to "cfreating and still sustaining," then where do you see God at work?  and where do you see God using humans - including you - to share in God's creative activity?

Read Luke 10:25-37

1.  How is the Samaritan serving as a steward of God's creation?
2.  Jesus lifts up the Samaritan as an example of someone who fulfills God's great commandments.  While we will spend more time discussing God's law in chapter four, for now it may be useful to consider how God's laws lead us to caring for our relationship with God, and our relationship with each other and creation.  Can you think of any laws - either in the Bible or in our world - that don't seem to be concerned with these two things?
3.  The Samaritan  extends his care for his neighbor by not only taking the man to the inn but also by paying the innkeeper to keep him for as long as necessary.  If we were to make this story contemporary, what other kinds of things might a "good Samaritan" do in this situation to care for neighbor?  (For example, we might advocate that lights were up on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem to make it more safe, or we might ask that more police be assigned to the roads, etc.)  Feel free to be creative.  Sometimes we most fully appropriate a biblical story by extending it into our own world and lives.

Making Sense of the Christian Faith

Session 1 Discussion Questions - "God Talk"

1. When have you felt most comfortable or at ease with your faith?  What were some of the factors that made it easy to believe?
2. Conversely, when has faith felt difficult or challenging?  When was it difficult to believe?  How did having other Christians around you help (or not) during this time?
3.  What are some of the adjectives that you might use to describe God?  Compassionate, loving, stern, just, tender?  What kind of picture do the words you choose offer you of God?  And where do you think your picture of God came from - Sunday school, your family, the Bible, experiences with and of other Christians?

Read Luke 24:1-35

1. Where do you see evidence of questions or doubt in these stories?  What do you make of them?  How are these doubts resolved?
2.  If the disciples had questions and doubts, how does that rflect on the questions and doubts we might bring to this study?  After reading these passages, how do you imagine the relationship between doubt and faith?
3.  Why do you think it seems that Luke emphasizes the believing community in his story about Jesus?  That is, Luke doesn't share any stories of an individual's encounter with the Risen Jesus.  Instead, Jesus appears to groups - of the disciples, of the two walking to Emmaus, etc.  What do you think this says about the importance of gathering with other Christians to talk about our shared faith?