Short Bible Study

“Worth Fighting About” July 28, 2018

Ephesians 2:11-13

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by the hands of men) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Questions Worth Settling

From the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

If our whole point of forming a nation is that we collectively believed some things to be true, and others NOT true, then we will always find opinions to be important.

Another word for opinion is creed, a statement of belief. G.K. Chesterton, an Englishman, described America as a “nation with the soul of a church.”

What ways do we teach our national creed?

Is the national creed found in the Declaration of Independence the same as Christianity?

Has it left out anything? Has it added anything?
What beliefs has the American creed taken form Christian thought?

If America is a melting pot, then does this imply that the pot has a particular shape? Is it part of our project to melt people into a certain way of thinking? How?

Most of us who watch the news are grieved at the constant conflict we see there. Americans, seemingly are always ready for an argument or something more. But in some ways, argument is built into our way of life. America is a nation built on an opinion.

G.K. Chesterton also observed that the questions that America tried to resolve in her wars and conflicts were ones that were worth settling.

Revolutionary War – Ought governments be responsible to the people and respect human rights?

American Civil War – Are some men to be slaves and others free?

World War I and II – Should violent nations, bent on empire be allowed to take land and freedom away from weaker nations?

How well could you state why each of these wars was fought?

Has your knowledge of history formed your picture of citizenship?

Wars are never that simple. Do you hold other views as to why they were fought?

War is also a failure of people to work out differences peacefully. How could one of these have been avoided?

A Citizenship Worth a Struggle

In Ephesians 2:12  Paul mentions citizenship, which is one connection from the text to our present-day situation. Our citizenship brings to mind the way we interact with our times and context.

If we have talked about conflict, consider the early Christian and what his times and context were like:

+ Caesar was acknowledged to be ‘King of Kings and Son of God, he gave life and ordered death.

+ Society was divided clearly into Rulers, Roman Citizens, non-citizens and slaves.

+ The divide between Jew and gentile was as great or greater as any racial divide we know today.

How at home would you feel in this world?

Enter Christian Faith Which said:

+ Jesus of Nazareth is King of Kings and Son of God. He gives life and will bring judgment.

+ All persons who are baptized into faith in Christ are family, regardless of social status.

+ Jesus took the very Jewish Passover feast, and invited all peoples to His Table.

What conflicts could you see arising right away?

If you were outside the church, how might you react?

Did Christians advocate merely for kindlier Caesars, less wars, fairer treatment, or better laws?

How do you account for the Church’s success in settling these questions?

Roman Citizenship was highly prized, what would it mean for a new Christian to say ‘his citizenship was in heaven?

Jews prized their status as the covenant people, with a special relationship to God. Most hoped to see Israel reconstituted as a nation, under a King from David’s line.

What would it mean to invite all persons to be part of God’s faithful promises?

A Hope Worth Living For

Christians are in the world, but not of the world. Our citizenship is in heaven. Baptism brings us into a new family and a universal community, Jesus’ church.

In our world there are some realities:

The American democratic republic has potential to be fair and free, but can make mistakes.

China may be successful economically, but it denies important freedoms.

Our culture will sometimes exalt moral evils or mock moral goods.

Our families can be clannish and narrow.

Careers are important, but they often conflict with our commitment to our Christian brothers and sisters.

Money is helpful, but we are also called to serve and share, not just accumulate.

What does it mean for you to say that your citizenship is in heaven?

What does it mean for a Chinese to say that his citizenship is in heaven?

What questions might a Christian ask when told there isn’t enough money for helping the poor?

What questions might a Christian ask when told that taxes must be raised?

What questions might a Christian ask when confronted with a moral wrong that is widely approved?

What questions might a Christian ask when career needs lead to leaving behind people whom they have loved and moving far away

Do we ask merely for kindlier governments, easier work, or something more?

How do we assert that Jesus is Lord in our own culture?

How do we show that Christ’s table is one to which all people may come by faith in Him?