stephen murray

Looking Back to Move Forward

stephen murray

Big Idea: Jesus is the Last Adam, the New Israel, the True King come to bring healing and salvation to our world.

But how do we experience this? How does it become tangible and real and meaningful in our lives?  One way is by looking back to go forward. This activity will help your group members thoughtfully and reflectively look back at what has influenced them and prepare them to look forward to the good things Jesus has for them.

Starter Question:

Is there a family member that you look like (mom/dad/aunt/uncle etc.)? Is there a funny trait that you share with them?

 

Providing Leadership:

Our family of origin is one of the deepest influences on our lives for better or worse. As we learned this week in our study of Luke, we saw that Jesus is the Last Adam who is bringing healing and restoration to the brokenness of our lives and of our world.

But how do we experience this? How does it become tangible and real and meaningful in our lives? One way is by looking back in order to go forward.

The Gospel describes becoming a Christian in terms of new birth, and is the means by which we are adopted into the new family of Jesus. In Christ, God forgives the past, but as we all know and experience on a daily basis, the effects of our past are not erased. It has great influence on our present- on the way we relate to God, ourselves and others.

In Christ we are given new birth, and as we grow we need to learn the ways of the new family of Jesus. We all come into this family with brokenness and wounding from being born into a broken world and into imperfect families.

God’s desire, regardless of our past and upbringing is to heal us deeply and to build us into mature, loving members of his family. To do that, we must become aware of what needs to be healed and transformed in us.

Growing as disciples requires us to honestly reflect on the positive and negative impact of our family of origin, as well as other significant influences in our lives. This is difficult but fruitful work. But as we look back and learn, it sets the stage for experiencing the redemption of God and growing in Christlikeness.

This activity will help your group honestly and authentically look back, and then prepare to move forward in the new way of Jesus.

Discussion Question 1:

The Bible is full of stories about family trees, and in reading it, we see the way the choices of one generation impact subsequent generations. Who can give some Biblical examples where this idea is seen?

Examples include:

  • Abraham/Isaac/Jacob/Joseph

    • Positive: heart for God, faith to follow him

    • Negative:  favoritism in parenting, deceit that runs through generations
       

  • David/Solomon

    • Positive: heart for God, leadership gifting

    • Negative: adultery that runs through generations.

Discussion Question 2:

What is a TV show, movie or current example of how family traits impact generations positively or negatively?

Discussion Question 3:

If your family of origin was in the Bible, and their stories were mapped out for us to see, what might be some positive and negative legacies that you would notice?  What are one or two patterns have impacted who you are today?

Read:

The salvation of Jesus brings us into a new family line. Ephesians 4:17-31 gives us some of the characteristics of the new family of Jesus we have been adopted into, and gives us hope for the way God wants help us grow to maturity. We are going to read it together:

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

– Ephesians 4:17-31

Discussion Question 4:

What are one or two “new family traits” that get you the most excited about growing in and leaving a new legacy? How might the “fingerprints of Jesus” reshape your life and legacy?

Closing:

Next week we are going to look at how the Holy Spirit helps us move forward from our past to our new future.