Sermon Study Guide – St. Thomas’ Church, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

 

(Date: 6 May 2012) “Aboding in Christ” 1 John 4:7-21 and John 15:1-8

 

  1. In this week’s gospel Jesus begins to talk about abiding in him. The word ‘abide’ is connected with ‘abode’: a place of residence. Jesus wants to take up residence in his disciples, and he wants them to take up residence in him. Have you ever lived in someone other than a family member’s house? What did that feel like? How did you have to behave? Did you ever have a non-family member live with you for an extended period of time? What kinds of struggles did that involve for you? Can you imagine Jesus coming and living in your house? Why or why not? Where would you welcome him and where would you like to have him avoid? If our bodies are the temples of the holy Spirit, then our lives and bodies are where Jesus especially wants to live. Anywhere in your life off limits for Jesus? Why? What can you do about it?

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Leader’s Guide:

Have the group consider the passage about Zacchaeus the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus said he was going to abide in his house that very day but Zacchaeus didn’t seem worried at all. Why not? Why wasn’t Jesus worried about being a guest of ‘a sinner” (v.7). How does salvation come to a house (v.9)? What role does willingness to “pay back” (v.8) play in welcoming salvation?

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  1. “For anyone who does not love his brother or sister who he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20). Wow! These are strong words from Jesus! Jesus is the vine- we are the branches. That was what he said in the gospel As the Body of Christ we are to give life to one another. When we separate ourselves from Jesus and the Body of Jesus then we cannot bear fruit. We don’t go anywhere without our bodies. The Spirit of God is not limited to where the Body of Christ is BUT we are told that wherever the Body of Christ is, there the Spirit of God is. We don’t know everywhere the Spirit is but we do know whenever two or three gather in Jesus name, He is in the midst of them. This is why the way we love one another is so important…essential to our life in Christ. It is a sign (fruit) of Christ abiding/aboding in us and us abiding/aboding in him.

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Leader’s Guide:

There is no proof of God outside of the fruit our lives produce for God’s kingdom:

Our passage can be summed up in three words: “God is love” (vv. 8, 16). This love originates in God; this is the kind of love we have for each other. Being lovers, we are God’s children and we love him (v. 7). If we don’t actively love, we don’t know God – because the very nature of God “is love” (v. 8). God’s greatest expression of love for us, the Church, was sending “his only Son” (v. 9) into the far-from-perfect “world”, thereby giving us a path to godly living (“atoning sacrifice”, v. 10). God took this initiative, this action restoring us to unity with him. So we have a duty to love “one another” (v. 11). It is only through Christ that we can see the Father (v. 12a). The flip side is: if we love our fellows, God (love) is “in us”: fraternal love completes (“is perfected”, v. 12) God’s. The presence of the Holy Spirit is proof that we and God are inter-related (v. 13). Part of this is witnessing and believing who Christ is (v. 14). Being thus in love has a consequence: we need not fear judgement at the end of the era; fear and “punishment” (v. 18) are incompatible: God’s “love casts out fear”. We are called to love both God and are fellows; it is impossible to love our fellows and not God, or God and not our fellows (vv. 20-21).

 

When we separate ourselves from the Body of Christ we separate ourselves from the fellowship where we KNOW Jesus is present! This is why splits in churches is so catastrophic for Christian life and witness in the world. How do you fight the inclination to separate yourself from Christ in your brothers and sisters? What can we do as a parish body to work against the temptation to stop abiding with others in Christ?

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Lord Jesus, thank You that You want to live in me. Help me to trust that You love me so that I will not be afraid to allow You deep within my heart and life. Cast out my fear with Your perfect love. Amen.

 

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