Saturday, February 27, 2010

Touching Base! Part 76

Spiritual Olympians
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This touching base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

With the Olympics everywhere we look, we certainly have been reminded of the cost athletes pay to become world-class athletes. Stories of sacrifice, discipline, cost and energy abound, but there still remains oh-so-little room at the top. Gold, silver and bronze - only three spots, but dozens competing in each sport. Talk to some and they would say if you don’t win gold you don’t win anything.

What has been a project, goal or dream that you have or are working towards? What has it or is it costing you? How do you know when the price has exceeded the value of what you are shooting for?

On Sunday we read Heb 12:1, 2, Galatians 5:7 and 1 Cor 9:24-27. How is following Christ like being an athlete? How is this analogy helpful? Where does this analogy possibly break down?

In Luke 5:1-11, our text from last Sunday we saw the trainer (Christ) calling one of His key trainees (Peter) to follow Him. As we looked at the text we talked about two key essentials in becoming a spiritual Olympian. A spiritual Olympian is a Christ-follower who is reaching, striving, and running. Not attempting to earn God’s love, but living the adventure of passionately loving God because He first loved us.

In this story Peter encounters to aspects of Christ’s character that will be essential for him for the long haul. Without these two key essentials, following Christ becomes impossible.

Recognition of Christ’s Authority (v1-7)

Re-read this section and discuss the possible tension of a Rabbi telling a fisherman how to fish.
What is the key line that illustrates Peters surrender?

Take this statement “Because you say so!” and attempt to put it in your own words, i.e. “my fishing manual says the opposite, my experience tells me there are no fish out there BUT let’s do it your way.”
The text does not tell us too much about James or John. How do you think they are responding?

Peter is on the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to learning about who Christ is, His authority and power. Jesus’ authority determines when Peter fishes in this story, but Christ’s authority will ultimately determine how Peter lives, who he becomes, how he invests his life and how he dies. Verse 11 is a great picture of responding to Christ’s authority.

Here are some questions for you to consider about Jesus authority.
  • Does His authority influence how you fish?
  • What is the context (for Peter, Sea of Galilee) where you are dealing with His authority?
  • Are you wrestling with His authority? If so what is the issue?
  • Are you surrendering to His authority? What does that look like?
  • What is it about our culture that undermines the authority of Christ?

Acceptance of His Grace (v8-11)
Read this section and ask these questions.
Who is harder on Peter? Is Peter harder on Peter than Jesus? Or is Jesus harder on Peter than Peter? Who is pushing who away? Who is inviting and engaging, who has disqualified themselves? Who is seen as the pursuer in this whole story?

I wonder as I read this text and see how Peter responds in v.8b if Peter had a tendency to get down on himself and beat himself up. One author has described Peter as a “man of contrasts”: not always stable and reliable. When you read deeper into Luke you discover that Peter will deny Jesus three times, probably driven by fear as in this text and it will be Jesus who will pursue Him again. Read Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5. Why did Peter get special mention? Was it because he was one of the lead apostles or was it Jesus’ way of inviting Peter back after such a devastating failure? Did Peter need a little grace talk?

There will be points along our journey in becoming all God wants us to become that we may be harder on ourselves than Christ is. Our darkest valleys can come about because of what we say to ourselves and how we beat ourselves up.

Know anyone that tends to do this to themselves? Know anyone that needs the grace talk?

The following are statements you may wish to discuss and add to.

  • When failure shapes us negatively we give that issue greater authority in our lives than Christ. When grace shapes us we learn, and live at a deeper level of trust and authenticity.
  • When failure shapes us negatively, we believe lies. Lies that put us down and keep us down. When grace shapes us we embrace the truth that Jesus speaks to us, truth that enables us to grow stronger.
  • When failure shapes us we may become more judgmental and critical of others. When grace shapes us we find the tenderness within to extend grace to others because our hearts are healthy.
  • When failure shapes us we tend to live with a lot of secrets. We rarely share about our journey. When grace shapes us we tend to allow our weaknesses to enable us to help others. We speak wisely out of our scars.
  • When failure shapes us we find relational intimacy difficult. When grace shapes us we are more willing to allow people to see us for who we really are - a sinner saved by grace.

As you close, talk about which aspect of Christ character you have the hardest time with - His authority or His grace?

How about authority?

Some people may have a really hard time with authority because of a particular issue they are wrestling with right now. Some people may have a hard time with authority because it is part of their temperament to buck authority.
Some may be wrestling with the authority issue because of the world they live in that questions every authority. Throw it off and live!

How about grace?

If we grew up in a home where we had to earn love then God’s grace might be something we have a hard time receiving. Repeated failure might be why someone has a hard time receiving grace.

Spiritual Olympians surrender to His authority and respond to His grace.


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