This is the first meeting of the group. We all need to get acquainted so that we can be open with one another in the weeks ahead. What brings us here?
If we are going to lay a satisfactory foundation for the house of Christian living, there are four preliminary questions we need to ask and answer from the Bible, which is the handbook of Christianity. We will be using it each week.
What is Christianity?
There is great confusion here. It is not a religion, but a revelation and a rescue. It sets out to reveal to us what God is like —Creator (Genesis 1:1), holy (Isaiah 6:3), love (1 John 4:8). It shows us the lengths God is willing to go in order to rescue us (John 3:16; Mark 10:22-34). Christianity is not a matter of church-going, ceremonies, creeds or conduct, though it embraces all four. Christianity is Christ.
Who is Jesus Christ?
He is a human, like us. He was born, lived, suffered and died —very human. But he was more-than-human. He was, as his name Jesus means, “God to the rescue” (Matthew 1:21). He was the fulfillment of all God had been showing his people Israel for centuries (Hebrews 1:1-4). He is God’s “Word,” his message to us in the terms of a human life (see John 1:1-4, 14, 18).
What did he come for?
To liberate us from the mess we had gotten ourselves into. The Bible is frank about our sinfulness (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9), which matters because he is “light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). All humans have this disease of sin or self-centeredness. It spoils lives, imposes a bondage, alienates us from God, and will be fatal if it is not dealt with (John 8:34; Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:1-2). Jesus’ death on the cross dealt with the guilt of sin (1 Peter 3:18). His rising from the tomb released the endless power of his Spirit to come and live in the lives of believers (Philippians 4:13, 19).
How do I get in touch?
If we want a relationship restored, there are four steps we need to take. As simple as ABCD — but tough to take:
A: There is something to admit: that I am not in touch with him, that I am on my own self-centered path, and that I need a radical change in the way I think—a change that the Bible calls repentance. What is more, I need a new power to break the chains of all selfishness.
B: There is something to believe: that God cares enough about me to come and find me. He did it by coming to this earth, by dying on the cross to take responsibility for my wrong deeds, and by rising again to a new life that he is willing to share with me.
C: There is something to consider: the cost of discipleship (see Luke 14:25-33). It will involve putting Jesus first in my life, not being ashamed to be known as his follower, and allowing him to get to work cleaning up our lives. We will need to spend time regularly with him and with his followers.
D: There is something to do: to invite this risen Jesus Christ to come and inhabit the life he made, and for which he died (Revelation 3:20). If we ask him in, he will come. He has promised. Until then we remain out of touch.
If you like, there are three sides to becoming a Christian: the believing side (faith), the belonging side (baptism), and the divine side (welcoming his Spirit into our lives). Note Romans 8:9 —you are a Christian only when the Holy Spirit has been welcomed aboard. When better to begin, than right away? There is no middle ground in allegiance to Jesus Christ. It’s a powerful either/or! See Ephesians 2:1; Matthew 7:24-27; 25:46; 1 John 5:12.
Verse to learn
Learn Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Bible study section
The Bible passage for study is Luke 19:1-10.
- Why do you think Zacchaeus felt the need to meet Jesus? Why do we?
- Why did Jesus bother about Zacchaeus? How long do you think it was since anyone had gone to dinner with Zacchaeus?
- Did Zacchaeus have to straighten up his life before Jesus would enter his home?
- What does Jesus bring when he comes into someone’s life?
- What difference did Jesus’ visit make to Zacchaeus?
Copies of Bibles and New Testaments in a modern version, and copies of some introductory Bible reading notes (such as Come Alive to God), together with:
Michael Green, Come, Follow Me.
Michael Green, The Day Death Died.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
David Watson, Is Anyone There?