The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching for our current series on the Gospel according to Matthew. As your whole Community gathers (online or socially distanced), use the Community Guide below to give shape to your night together.
Begin by Practicing the Lord’s Supper Together (5 minutes)
Begin your night by partaking of the bread and the cup together. Have each person bring their own Communion elements. To facilitate your time, you can either ask a member of your Community to come ready with a short prayer, liturgy, or scripture reading, or assign someone to read the scripture we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we present ourselves and our attention to you.
In your kindness, you have loved us and rescued us.
You have saved us and called us your own.
You have adopted us into your family,
so that no man, woman, or child need be lonely.
At your table, we give our awareness and our presence to you and to one another.
We share one loaf, as one body,
in allegiance to one Lord. Amen.
Emotional Health Check-in (10 Minutes)
As we focus in on this series, we want to continue to create space for checking in on each other, but doing so in a shorter amount of time. Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the question below:
- What’s something we can celebrate with you? Is there anything we can hold before God on your behalf?
If the need arises, spend a few minutes praying for one another, asking God to meet needs and help each person carry what feels heavy right now.
Read this Overview (5 Mins)
In Matthew 22, as he often did, Jesus found himself taking questions from the Pharisees, who asked him, What is the greatest commandment? His answer was this: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it: ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Even if you didn’t grow up with a Christian faith tradition, these are likely words you’ve heard dozens or hundreds or thousands of times. It’s “the golden rule”! While familiarity can breed indifference, as apprentices of Jesus we are called deeper, to consider what it says about God that he himself says all of the law can be summed up in these two commands: to love God with everything we have (our finances, our intellect, our influence, our money, etc.), and to demonstrate that love to our neighbor.
Jesus invites us to measure our spiritual maturity not by how strictly we adhere to the tenets of the Old Testament, how consistently we fast, or how fervently we pray (all good things!)—but instead by how we grow and live in agape love. The kind of love that commits to obey God even when we don’t understand, that puts our neighbor first even when they don’t do the same, and that continually commits to the flourishing of others.
This passage will cause us to join what we perhaps would rather separate—our love from our obedience. We cannot love God without obeying him. We cannot love God and hate our neighbor. This is the space of commitment to Jesus: following him even when it’s hard, or you don’t understand, or you must inconvenience yourself for the sake of another.
All of us go through ups and downs — but the goal is that year over year, being loved by God and loving others is changing us from the inside out.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- As you consider the two related commands summarized by Jesus—love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself—does one come more naturally to you? Put another way, do you find it easier to love God with your whole self, or to tangibly love the people in your community (both neighborhood and Bridgetown Community)?
- Have you experienced the disconnect between being loved by and loving God and extending that love to others? How so?
- As you consider your life and lifestyle, is there anything that comes to mind that you may need to adjust in order to grow in your capacity to love God and love your neighbor?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Making Space to Love God and Your (Literal) Neighbor (5 Minutes)
This week, we want to take some time before God to figure out loving our neighbor and loving him
Intentionally schedule some time this week to sit before God. Invite the Spirit to make you aware of his presence. Abide in silence for a few moments. And then ask the question: are there any areas of my life I need to adjust in order to live a life of love? Or, to have the capacity to grow in my capacity to love God and my neighbor? It may be something small—like a thought pattern, a habit, or a budget line item—or large, like a relationship or living situation.
Depending on what God brings to your mind, brainstorm and consider how you can take a step in the direction God has called you in. Ask his Spirit for guidance and the will to both love and obey.
It’s possible that rather than calling you to a big change, God is calling you to action: is there a neighbor in your life God brought to mind as you were praying? Ask the Lord what step of love he would have you take toward that person, and take the risk in obedience.
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that through his love God would make us as people who don’t just obey the rules, but who are changed because of God’s love, and love the people around us in a sacrificial way.