Sunday, September 11th
As we commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11, our question about whether the tragedy made us stronger as a country raises an even more important question. How does God turn evil that affects our own lives into something good? How do we experience “eucastrophe” (Tolkein’s word for joy breaking forth from tragedy)?
In this week’s Next Steps, you’ll do a review of some of the key Scriptures “Already / Not Yet.” The idea that evil has already been defeated by Jesus, but we live in an in-between time when that reality is not fully manifested in our lives and in the world. Work through the following Scriptures and questions on your own, and get together with your running partner, Life Group or friends and family around the dinner table to talk through what you’re learning!
KEY SCRIPTURES & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS — about Already / Not Yet
Romans 8: 28 — And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Genesis 50:20 — You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
- How have you seen God turn something potentially painful into something good in the world?
Luke 17:20-21 — Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.
- The “kingdom of God” is the rule and goodness of God come to earth. Anywhere where God’s will is done (on earth as it is in heaven), can be considered His kingdom. Jesus is telling the Pharisees (and us) that the kingdom is not something far off in the future. It is now here and available. What can you do to see more of God’s kingdom come to your life?
1 Corinthians 15:55-58 — “Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?” It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three — sin, guilt, death — are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground.
1 John 3:2 — Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Romans 8:35-39 — Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- The battle still rages against suffering and evil today, but the war has been won. How do these verses comfort you in the face evil and pain?
- What should your response to evil and suffering be when you see it in the world or when you encounter it in your own life?
Have you ever looked back on your childhood or adolescence and asked, “Why did life deal me those limitations?” A learning disability. Parents who never gave you their approval. Alcoholism in your family. Abuse. Chronic pain. Poverty. “Why” is usually a difficult question to answer, especially in the moment. Many of our culture’s most celebrated heroes, however, found a calling as they overcame some great adversity. Think of the 9/11 survivors the pastor talked about in the service who went on to start charities. Think of Starbuck’s founder, Howard Schultz who grew up in poverty in Brooklyn’s housing projects and used those humble beginnings as inner fuel to drive his career. Think of John Walsh, whose son Adam was abducted and killed in 1981, but then turned his personal tragedy into a crusade that launched the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the TV show America’s Most Wanted.
Very often, your calling is found by investigating your gifts, passions and marketable skills. Sometimes, however, your own challenges, brokenness or misfortune offer clues to the difference you can make in the world. Consider some of the detours, heartbreak and disappointments in your life and evaluate how they might inform your calling. Perhaps, as a result of doing this experience, you might look back on a particularly dark season of your life and say, “So that’s why . . .”
1. Write about two misfortunes or difficult circumstances that have profoundly impacted you.
- What happened?
- How did that affect you then?
- How does it impact you today?
- How did you adapt?
- What good came out it?
2. Write about how these two situations might possibly be used for good as part of your calling. Be specific.
3. Will you more easily find your calling by trying to forget and move on from the unpleasant events in your life or by being deeply reflective about them?
4. What can you do to explore further how the two conditions you wrote about might practically be turned to something good?
SPIRITUAL GROWTH PATH
Did you know you can now track your progress working through the outcomes we include in Next Steps right on Gateway’s website?! Go to Spiritual Growth Path and create an account. You’ll get access to Spiritual Fitness Checks and training with the spiritual outcomes.
Spiritual Outcomes — Study God
- Learn how to wrestle with the questions about God that blow our mind by working through the STUDY GOD outcome.