Setting: A busy national store. (Tell your audience this is the setting and let them use their imaginations if it’s not possible to put up shelves, aisles, carts, etc.)
Cast: Five different shoppers: four females, one male. (See description of each below.) Someone in a robe to portray Jesus and a young man standing with Him, watching the scene from the side of the stage.
Shopper One is on her cell phone, shouting into it while pretending to push a grocery cart.
“Yeah, I just got a bargain. You won’t believe it. Three extra pair of underwear in the bag. Yeah, only four bucks. They are all white, but I can live with that. Want me to pick some up for you? Yeah, I think they have size 12.” (Pushes cart off the stage while still talking.)
Shopper Two has a pretend cart with a pretend child in it; shopper is yelling at the child.
“Would you stop that? I keep telling you. I’m not saying it again. You got it? You do that once more and I’m going to tell your father. Stop that. I told you. I’m not telling you again. If you don’t stop, you won’t get any candy when we are done. Stop that. I already told you. I’m not telling you again.” (Pushes cart off stage.)
Shopper Three is pushing a pretend cart and reaching for groceries on the shelf. This shopper has on P.J. bottoms and a crazy top and is talking to a friend who is dressed in shorts and a tight fitting top.
“Yeah, I know. I probably shouldn’t have slept with him. He said he loved me, but I don’t know. I’ve only known him for two weeks.
“Can you fall in love that fast?
“I’m worried. What if I’m pregnant?
“What then?” (Pushes cart off stage.)
Shopper Four is pushing a pretend cart and struggling to reach things—looking around but not meeting anyone’s eyes. This shopper is muttering to himself and has mental issues.
“Used to be easy. Not now. I know they want to hurt me. Don’t look at them. It’s in their eyes. I can see it. They think I can’t see them. But I can. Got to hurry before they get me.”
Shopper Five is pretending to push a cart and watching over several children.
(She picks up items, looks at the price, and puts them down.) “We’ll find something we can afford for Mommy to cook. Let’s just keep looking. Maybe some cereal, or how about macaroni and cheese? I know we had it last night. Maybe some eggs. Let’s just keep looking.” (Pushes cart off stage.)
Jesus (Putting His arm around the young man standing beside Him.)
“You ask, ‘Who are my neighbors?’ Here they are, my son. Take care of my sheep, will you?”
Young Man: “But they are so. . .”
Jesus: “Different than you?
“Yes, I know. But you have something in common: I love you all. Very much.”
(Lights go out slowly.)
Reread John 17:23. What does it mean to you? How have you interpreted this verse?
What does loving others mean in the context of this verse?
“We each have a work to do. We may be of different nationalities, but we are to be one in Christ. If we allow peculiarities of character and disposition to separate us here, how can we hope to live together in heaven? We are to cherish love and respect for one another. There is to be among us the unity for which Christ prayed. We have been bought with a price, and we are to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits” (MS 20, 1905. 2 MCP 426.4).
Read the quote above from Ellen White. Are we only to respect those who are different if they are church members and therefore part of our family?
How will treating others with respect and love change their perception of us?
How do you love a difficult person? How do you love them if they are in the church? How do you love them if they aren’t yet a follower of Christ? Should there be a difference? If so, why?
Applying God’s Love in All Areas of My Life
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light” (Luke 11:33).
So you have the light—what are you doing with it?
When we are called to Christ, our wants and desires begin to change, but we still have to live in the world. How do we share our light with others who don’t necessarily see what we have to share in a good light?
Have you ever been in a situation where being a Christian wasn’t very popular?
Have you ever had to respond in a way that you knew Christ would want you to, only to be made fun of?
Let’s say you are in a store. You are happily shopping away and it comes time to pay for your purchases. The cashier gives you your change, and you see that they have given you more than you should have received. Do you return it?
What if it is more than $20?
What if it is less than $5?
What if it is less than $1?
What if it is less than .25?
Now, what if the cashier knew that you are a Christian? What if she wanted to see how you would react? What if the slip-up wasn’t a slip up at all? What if it was a test? Would the amount matter? Would your reaction matter?
Turn the tables. What if the store overcharged you by $20? Would you go back for them to make things right? Would you do it for $5? How about if it were less than $1?
Others are watching us to see what the light of Christ looks like. In this world of darkness, they really want to see light. But they want a true light—one that is consistent and dependable, one they can throw themselves at, one that will change their lives. Jesus is that light. How we show Him to others matters. Not just at church, but in every aspect of our lives, including the minutest detail.
The world watches to see how we will react in many situations. They listen to our words. They watch us at work to see if we will be faithful, to see if we’ll “borrow” things that don’t belong to us. They watch us when we least expect it. Sitting down to eat in a crowded restaurant, do you take time to pray? Are you nice to the waitress even if she is having a bad day and not being friendly?
Our lives of light are made up of many little details. Be sure that others are watching—and not just for the big stuff. They are ready to pick apart every little thing we do. Is that fair? Probably not. But it is a surety that you take on when you become a Christian—just as an athlete does in professional sports and ad branding. It is a choice to promote your brand, in this case, the love of Jesus.
We won’t be perfect, at least not until Christ comes again and transforms us. But the world is watching for a consistency that they need.
“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12, NIV).
Answer the following questions in your journal:
Do you feel that the “night is nearly over”?
How important is it to you personally that the “day is almost here”?
What “deeds” in your life are closer to darkness than light?
What can you do to let Jesus turn them to light?
Today, more than ever before, the opportunities to witness are at the touch of your finger. The Internet and social networking puts us in touch with the whole world easily. One touch of the “Enter” key on our computer, and our words can and will be read by literally thousands.
That’s good, right?
It can be. Social networking on the computer and other electronic devices can be a wonderful way to share the gospel with other seekers. Sometimes, a short note typed with the intention of encouragement can change lives we probably won’t meet in this lifetime. We can influence people to stay encouraged, to look to God’s Word, and draw closer in their relationship with our gracious Savior.
On the other hand, venting in the heat of the moment can also be read by those same thousands. A careless word or thought can turn our witness into smoke that vanishes before our eyes. Once entered, it usually can’t be taken back. And that becomes a tragedy. We need to be careful in our choice of words and topics in this electronic age so that others will be turned to Christ, not turned away.
The world has a right to hear the gospel from us. After all, Jesus has changed our lives from darkness to light. We have received His grace, and as His disciples, we are told to share this gift with others. It is a gift so precious, we need to guard it in our lives so that others won’t be turned away from desiring its redeeming power.
Even youth lead a busy life. It is one of the devil’s favorite tricks to keep us from doing the work God has called us to. It is much more convenient to ignore witnessing outside of church than to actively engage in it, but each community has people who are hungering for truth, and they want to see it lived out, not just spoken of. Making mistakes is part of growing, and we shouldn’t expect instant perfection. As a Christian, our lives will be under “the microscope of the world.” They will look for any imperfection, but showing consistent Christian love will help others see that we are truly trying to live God’s love. Being a Christian and a Seventh-day Adventist isn’t just religion, it is a life-style. It should and must affect every area of our life: our work, our study, and our recreation.
From the Pen of Ellen G. White
“There is something for all to do besides going to church, and listening to the word of God. They must practice the truth heard, carrying its principles into their every-day life. They must be doing work for Christ constantly, not from selfish motives, but with an eye single to the glory of Him who made every sacrifice to save them from ruin” (GW92 15.3).
DISCIPLE IN ACTION
We are reborn with a purpose. We are saved to share His grace. The world is waiting to hear, see, and know true Christians that live and breathe the love of God. Will they be disappointed if we aren’t perfect? Some may. They’ve been hurt by others under the name of Christ and, unfortunately, turned off by what some have to say. Showing them God’s love in our imperfect lives with consistency and grace can restore hope to many who are hopeless.
In what area of your life do you have interaction with the most people outside of church?
How can you share the light of Christ in that situation?
What other areas of your life do you “rub elbows” with others outside of the church? How would a quiet but faithful witness work in those areas?
Make a list of other ways you can have an impact for truth. Can you do things like visit other churches for musical concerts and show them what a true Seventh-day Adventist Christian looks like? How about at community events? Take the challenge to take the list that you made and put it into action. Each step forward counts for Christ!
Session 22: Understanding that God has Provided Everything Needed for my Restoration
To understand that God has provided everything needed for my restoration, I am learning that:
Jesus died to redeem me from sin and now lives to restore me to physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness.
through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ will live in me and I will live in Him.
because every person is created in God’s image, my relationships will be based on love, forgiveness, and respect.
the Holy Spirit daily prompts me to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.
God expects me to be a steward of all He created.
the great controversy ends when God brings an end to sin and restores earth to its original perfection.
God is not satisfied with simply saving me from the consequences of my sin; He wants to restore me to the life of love for which I was created.
Look: John 4:10-14, 21-24; Micah 6:8; Revelation 21:1-7
Memorize: “Those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14, Today’s New International Version).
Through the Tomb to the other Side
The way to the glory of God often leads through darkness. Have you ever noticed that? In the midnight of a trial we don’t think we will survive, that’s when we truly learn to trust God. And in the end, there is often a blessing we never could have imagined.
So it was with the cross of Jesus. He “couldn’t see through the tomb,” we’re told (DA 753). In other words, even Jesus wasn’t sure He would survive this trial. We can see that for ourselves, both in what He said on the way to Gethsemane, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38), and in His pleading prayers to be freed from this “cup.” He knew He would die. At that moment, as a human being, He had only His trust and faith, just as we do, to help Him cling to the promise that He would then be reunited with His Father. But He did cling. He held to “Thy will be done,” and He conquered. And on the other side of that cross and silent tomb, there was glory that perhaps even the human Jesus couldn’t imagine, at least on that night in the garden.
And He did it for us. He had a far larger idea than just rescuing us from this fallen world and from death. He wanted to give us the full, rich lives we were meant to have, even here. He wanted us to “live abundantly” (John 10:10).
How does that happen? What does it even mean? The full answers to these questions are greater than our grasp of them, but there’s one simple answer: Love. Simple—but not easy! Jesus’ days were filled from the moment He awoke until the moment He slept, and even in His dreams, with love. He loved His Father and spent hours in communion with Him through reading the scrolls He had available to Him, repeating the old stories His mother had taught Him, and prayer.
Because of that, He loved everyone around Him, too. With His heart full of God’s love for Him, as lowly as He may have felt as a Galilean carpenter, it was easy for Him to see the beloved child of God in the faces He saw daily.
That’s what He wants to do for us. He did go through the tomb, He did come back more than a conqueror, and He does live for us this very moment. He says He’ll bring us life, victory, joy, and that the vehicle for all of that is love, love, and more love.
Think of, and perhaps share, a time in your life when great blessing came through great trial.
How can you express some of your enormous gratitude for what Jesus chose to do for you?
What do you think are some of the features of “abundant life” that you would like to make real in your life? How do you see God working to make these things a reality?
Who has shown love to you this week? What was the effect on you?
Immanuel means “God with us” in more ways than one. It means that God, who has always been with us, came to live visibly with us so we could be more aware of His presence. It means that God has a human face like ours now—even a body like ours. Jesus still has His physical form and always will. He will be the only one with scars in the new reality God is creating. How, then, can God be “with us” as Jesus promised?
John 14:16-20, one of the clearest passages on the truth of the triune Godhead, explains how it works: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Let’s break this down:
Step 1: Jesus asks the Father.
Step 2: the Father sends the Spirit.
Step 3: the Spirit, who is invisible to the world, lives “with us and in us,” and because of that, we know Him.
Step 4 gets interesting: Jesus has already said He is leaving, but now He says He won’t leave us as orphans, but “I will come to you.” Even though the world won’t see Him, we will. Clearly, He’s seeing the Spirit as nearly interchangeable with Himself. In fact, He later says the Spirit “will not speak on his own,” but “will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:13, 14). The trinity is so unified that we can’t begin to understand it. What God says and does, Jesus says and does, what Jesus says and does, the Spirit says and does, and what the Spirit says and does, God says and does.
And sure enough, the result, which we could call Step 5 in our list, is that we will realize that Father, Son, and we are all one in the Spirit. So now, Immanuel/God with us creates a whole new way of living. Now it’s even more complicated than a three-way God—we’re in the mix, too!
The little book, Steps to Christ, is one of the clearest treatises on the life in Christ that has ever been written. On pages 62-3, Mrs. White describes the result of abiding in Christ and learning to continually surrender the will to Him. First, she describes the instantaneous process we call justification or “imputed righteousness:”
“If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.”
In other words, He did the work, and we get the credit. His character is imputed, or credited, to us. Next, she shows what Immanuel, the indwelling Spirit, accomplishes in the way of the lifelong process of sanctification, or becoming holy:
“More than this, Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. So you may say, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. So Jesus said to His disciples, “It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Matthew 10:20. Then with Christ working in you, you will manifest the same spirit and do the same good works—works of righteousness, obedience.
“So we have nothing in ourselves of which to boast. We have no ground for self-exaltation. Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us.”
This is a moment-by-moment process, and like all things we learn by practice, it involves some falling and forgiveness. But God never gets tired of picking us up, dusting us off, and starting again. The question is, do we keep reaching out for Him?
How would you describe the threefold Godhead and what their actions are in your life?
Have you intentionally invited the Holy Spirit into your heart and your daily moments? What would help you to remember to maintain the connection and constantly surrender your will to His?
Mrs. White mentions “works of righteousness and obedience.” We tend to make lists, but the Bible keeps it pretty simple. What is the one, great work of righteousness and obedience, according to what Jesus taught His disciples during their three years with Him, and reiterated in His last hours? (See John 15:12, 13.) How would it help with obedience if we could keep that one command before us every day?
Justice, Mercy, Humility
When God begins to set the world right, which He tends to do one person at a time, He begins by setting right the foundational thing that’s wrong—your two-way relationship with Him. He loves you. That’s a fact as immutable as the law of gravity. He’s been loving you since before you were born, and nothing you’ve done will ever stop Him. So He comes in love and calls you, and when you respond, He begins to teach you that you are safe in that love and always will be. For some people, just this one thing takes their whole life to really settle into, and that’s okay, because it’s the one and only thing we really cannot do without. At all!
But if you have responded to Him and felt that opening, brightening, thawing inside that shows His love is active in you, He then begins to set your outer world right, too. He wants to teach us to love as He does, all the time, everybody, no conditions. Because those people mentioned above, who have such a hard time learning to trust God’s love, generally got that way because they have been so hurt by other humans. The fact is, the main way that He shows His love on this earth is through us. That’s why we’re called the body of Christ. We’re His hands, His eyes, His feet, His mouth. So when we are doing the devil’s legwork for him instead (and there are a lot of people doing that), what happens is hatred or indifference instead of love. Then, when somebody comes along and says, “Hey, did you know God loves you?” the person who has been the target of this hatred and indifference doesn’t even know what that means, let alone how to believe it.
So, Spirit-filled Christians set out to do justice. They pay attention when people are being marginalized and made powerless, and they do something about it. They notice when children are told, in words or actions, that they are worthless, and they counteract that with all the love they have. They work actively for issues of peace and fairness, for ways of caring for those who need care in ways that maintain their dignity and worth as humans and children of God.
Spirit-filled Christians love mercy. They always can imagine a reason why someone might be acting in hateful or indifferent ways, and they seek to love the oppressor as well as the victims, and to empower both in ways that will make them both more human, not less. They are well aware of their own weaknesses and have no time for backbiting or judging the weaknesses of others, though they do hold each other accountable.
Spirit-filled Christians who are working for justice and loving mercy can get so excited at the results (or so frustrated at the lack of visible results) that they can get caught up in pride—either “look what I’m doing for God!” or “why is this not working when I’m trying so hard?” So they pay particular attention to walking humbly with their God. They make sure, as Jesus did, that their devotional relationship comes first and foremost because they know they cannot succeed at any of the things they’re trying to do if that vertical relationship is not in place.
But when it is. . . watch out! Spirit-filled Christians turned the entire known world upside down in the first century after Jesus was so briefly here. And they’re doing it again. They’re noticing what is going on with the planet God so lovingly created for us, and they’re moving to protect and steward it, knowing we will be held accountable for its treatment, not to mention the fact that the health of God’s beloved children depends on the health of their environment. They’re penetrating jungles, both concrete and rainforest, and finding people who don’t know the Good News yet, and they’re spreading the joy. They’re quietly working in neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces, letting people see and hear and touch that the love of God is real.
Because one of these days, the universe will be set really right, once and for all. And they want all God’s children to be there, when. . .
“The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love” (GC 678).
Are you certain that God loves you? How do you know?
Are you certain that you love Him back? How can you tell?
Of all the voices competing for your attention, how can you discern the ones that are calling you to work for God? What are some of your own, personal tasks in the Great Commission?