• Matt Beaney

#336 – YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID (26/4/21)


On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding love.


Running from 5:21, Jesus has given us six vital areas that are transformed when we know Jesus: Our anger (5:21-26), our purity and marriages (5:31-32), language (5:33- 37), and retaliation (5:38-42) are all reformed by the Spirit at work in us. He finishes with this summary principle of love (5:43- 48). In a world that hacks love into a mess, Jesus wants us to understand that true love brings healing and health to our relationships. Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Jesus is correcting the stance of the Jewish teachers In His day. They had come to believe that it was right to ‘love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. Of course, this is an attitude to which every sinful human heart is prone.


The Robber’s Cave Experiment

1954 A study named The Robber’s cave was undertaken in which 22 white, 11-year-old boys were sent to a special remote summer camp in Oklahoma, Robbers Cave State Park. The boys developed an attachment to their groups throughout the first week of the camp by doing various activities together like hiking, swimming, etc. The boys chose names for their groups, The Eagles and The Rattlers. During this first phase, the groups did not know of the other group's existence.

Sherif (the study’s organiser) now arranged the 'competition stage' where friction between the groups was to occur over the next 4-6 days. A series of competitive activities (e.g. baseball, tug-of-war etc.) were arranged with trophies and prizes being awarded.


Tension arose and escalated in its expression. This study shows the natural inclination toward negative tribal behaviours. In essence, we can all have more Love toward ‘insiders’ and greater hostility and mistrust toward whom we consider to be ‘outsiders'.

We are all prone to this: Our Love, respect and loyalty can be focussed on ‘our people’, and is often accompanied with animosity toward the ‘others’.

Sin distorts our capacity to love. We search for reasons not to love those ‘outside'. Our hearts are creative and find reasons not to love. We often have constrained love - love with boundaries.


RESPONSE

How aware are you of loving with boundaries? How are you working on building relationships across your boundaries? Let’s not just pray and wait for God to change us in some way! We are to take action, and in so doing, our hearts will be changed.

The Robber’s Cave experiment revealed that working together on a task that required cooperation, rather than just talking, was the best way to unite the divided groups. To quote the experiment’s findings,

‘The Robbers Cave experiments showed that superordinate goals (goals so large that it requires more than one group to achieve the goal) reduced conflict significantly more effectively than other strategies (e.g., communication, contact).’

Working with those that we find it hard to love is a choice that will deepen our love. Let’s start with our church relationships. Let’s devote to a Community Group not because we ‘click’ in some way. Let’s not devote ourselves to people because it fits our diary…Let’s love the people in our group. Let’s find ways of working together to serve our community.


COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - LOVE WITHOUT BOUNDS

Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


Suggested opener/Ice-breaker

When have you ever received undeserved love in your life?


Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding love.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Jesus is correcting the stance of the Jewish teachers In His day. They had come to believe that it was right to ‘love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. Of course, this is an attitude to which every sinful human heart is prone. Sin distorts our capacity to love. We search for reasons not to love those ‘outside'. Our hearts are creative and find reasons not to love. We often have constrained love - love with boundaries.


We love through prayer

Jesus makes it clear that praying for people is a powerful way that we can love them. Praying for our ‘enemies’ is not praying for ourselves about our enemies - although this is good to do of course. Praying for our enemies is praying for them! It’s praying a blessing or forgiving people even through our pain.


We love through action

The Father continues to give good gifts to every human being on the planet. No matter how evil a person is, they are blessed with ‘common grace’- the sun, rain, breath and every good thing they have.

Christians take on the family-likeness. Loving people, particularly our enemies, reveals if we are God’s children. Those who have been born again of the Holy Spirit gain a new ability to love those who are difficult to love.

Like learning to play the guitar, love is not learnt in bed! Love grows as we act in obedience to Jesus’ command through faith. If we will seek to love others - seek the best for others - we will grow in our love for them.


Discussion questions

1. Did God speak to you about anything in particular from Sunday's message or the blogs this week?

2. How does or could you love through prayer?

3. We are called to have a 'seek first' attitude to growing in love. In what ways do you believe that the Spirit would want you to express love in the various contexts that He has put you?

4. How does a daily practice of meditating on the gospel - God's mercy to us in Christ - help one to remain loving to those who don't deserve it?


Serving, Investing and inviting

Our unconditional love shows the gospel and makes a way for it.

1) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?

2) Serving, investing and inviting is built on love. It's hard to do and we'll only do it if we love people! How are you planning to serve invest and invite?




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