Community Group Questions | Community: Affirming One Another's Strengths | Feb 4, 2018
“Community: Affirming One Another’s Equality”
Rev. Blake Altman, Lead Pastor
God intends to change you by His Word. How is He at work in you to do that? Read the following passages and consider these questions.
Romans 15:1-7 (ESV)
 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,  that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (ESV)
Romans 14:1-4, 20-23 (ESV)
 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.  One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.  Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.  Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand...
 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.  It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.  The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.  But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (ESV)
 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.  If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.  But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”  For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.  Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.  But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.  For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?  And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.  Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
QUESTIONS (20 minutes)
The Principle: scripture calls us to affirm one another’s equality
“We are called to be a church, not a middle school for adults.”
“There is a difference between what we know theologically and the emotions of our context, background, and lifestyle that creates a gap. In that gap, we are tempted to make up rules to make things black-and-white.”
- What is the issue in Romans 14? In 1 Corinthians 8?
- In each passage, who are the strong? The weak?
- Why is it significant that the strong and weak flip-flop in the different passages?
- Why would the Apostle Paul NOT say, “Listen, weak Christians, it’s okay for you to eat meat and drink wine—Jesus has made those things clean!”? What is the greater gospel virtue in the passages? What is the reason for this being the greater virtue?
“If we don’t allow our emotional IQ to be as high as our theological IQ, we will create divisions in the church.”
Discuss the following possible applications of The Principle in these areas:
- Whether or not to drink alcohol
- What school choice you make for your children
- Which denomination you are a part of
- How singles and marrieds interact
- Economic considerations among brothers and sisters
PRAYER (10-15 minutes)
Personal Response: Consider getting each person to ask themselves, How can I better affirm the equality of my brother/sister? Leave silence for the Holy Spirit to work in each person’s heart. In light of what God may have shown them, people may share personal prayer requests. Close with prayer together.