Chapter OneSESSION 1
AS I HAVE
Robin was born with defective kidneys. He had two kidney transplants as
a child and a third as a young adult. In his late thirties he needed a fourth
transplant. Unfortunately, the waiting list for a kidney from a deceased donor
was six years. Realistically, then, someone who loved him needed to give him
Six of Robin's friends each offered a kidney. The doctors picked their
top three choices among the six, and those three worked out among themselves
that his friend Amy would be the one to save Robin's life.
Loving one another often costs time. Effort. Even money. But what can
one say about friends who are willing to give the organs of their bodies for
one another? Your friendships may never need to go that far, but as you consider
Jesus' words about love in this session, ask yourself how far you would go
for a friend.
CONNECTING WITH GOD'S FAMILY 20 min.
There's something about sharing personal stories that deepens
your connections with each other. That's why each session in this
guide begins with an opportunity to hear one another's experiences.
1. Take sixty seconds to respond briefly to one of the following:
Think of a time when someone loved you. It could be a
current experience or one long past. What did that person
do that was loving?
Describe a time when you experienced God's love.
2. Whether your group is brand new or ongoing, it's always
important to reflect on and review your values together. On
pages 80-81 is a sample agreement with the values we've found
most useful in sustaining healthy, balanced groups. We recommend
that you choose one or two values-ones you haven't
previously focused on or have room to grow in-to emphasize
during this study. Choose ones that will take your group to the
next stage of intimacy and spiritual health.
For new groups: You may want to focus on building a safe
environment. If a group isn't a safe place for people to
share themselves, nothing else happens.
For existing groups: We recommend that you rotate host
homes on a regular basis and let the hosts lead the meeting.
We've come to realize that healthy groups rotate
leadership. This helps to develop every member's ability
to shepherd a few people in a safe environment. Even
Jesus gave others the opportunity to serve alongside him
(Mark 6:30-44). Session 3 will explain how to set up a
GROWING TO BE LIKE CHRIST 40 min.
John 15:9-17 is part of the final teaching Jesus gave his followers-his
disciples or students-right before he was crucified.
Everything he had trained them to be culminated here. Love was an
essential mark of Jesus' students. In fact, it was the sign by which
outsiders would recognize those who belonged to Jesus (John 13:35).
It was also the glue that bonded them first to him and then to one
another. Without a deep commitment to love each other, they
would never have changed the world as they did.
Love is the ultimate test of whether you have Christ in you or
not. Jesus' kind of love is difficult-it's nearly impossible to sustain
if his life isn't welling up from within you. Jesus' kind of love puts
your desires on the back burner and focuses on another person. It
sets aside personal gain. It gives; it builds up the other. This is not
the "love" sentimentalized in greeting cards and pop songs. It's
something much more costly.
3. Read John 15:9-17. Exactly what does Jesus tell his followers
to do in this passage? Note especially the instructions he
repeats more than once.
4. Why does he repeat himself, even to these disciples who know
5. Jesus defines the word "love" by pointing at himself-paying
the ultimate price (verses 12-13). How would you describe this
kind of love (for example, affectionate, romantic, etc.)?
6. What is the connection between loving others and remaining
(abiding, dwelling) in Christ's love for us?
7. The quality of our love for others reflects the degree to which
we are gripped by Jesus' love for us. What do you think helps a
person become more motivated by Christ's love?
8. Turn to 1 John 3:16-18. What is one way we can lay down our
lives for each other?
9. What other ways of laying down our lives for each other can
you think of?
10. Has anyone other than Jesus ever laid down his or her life for
you? If so, briefly describe what that person did.
11. Whom in your life is God reminding you to love?
12. The more you "remain" or "abide" in Jesus' love for you, the
more you'll love others. Likewise, the more you love others,
the more you'll abide in his love (John 15:9-10). Abiding in
his love is a moment-by-moment awareness that Jesus is present,
now, loving you.
Immersing yourself in the Bible and prayer will help you
cultivate that moment-by-moment awareness. Here are several
options for doing this for the next six weeks. Which one will
you commit to pursue?
Prayer. Identify someone whom you have trouble loving.
Commit to praying for that person throughout this study,
both with your group and on your own. Ask God to show
you his attitude toward the person. Ask him to help you
to love the person the way Jesus would. You may find it
helpful to write your prayers on the Reflections page
included at the end of every session.
Gospel Reading. Read through the gospel of Luke. On
pages 93-94 is a reading plan. As you read, we recommend
that you jot down your thoughts on the Reflections
page or in a journal.
Meditation. If you've read Luke before, try meditation as
a way of internalizing God's Word more deeply. Copy a
portion of each week's Bible study passage onto a card,
and tape it somewhere in your line of sight, such as your
car's dashboard or the kitchen table. Think about it when
you sit at red lights, or while you're eating a meal. What
is God saying to you, here and now, through these words?
Several alternative passages for meditation are suggested
on the Reflections page in each session. You may use that
page to write your responses to your meditation verses.
On pages 24-25 is a Personal Health Plan, a chart for
keeping track of your spiritual progress. In the box that says,
"WHAT is your next step for growth?" write the step you chose
in question 12.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Read 1 John 4:7-21. Why does John think love is so essential for
us to practice?
Look at Jesus' example of love for his disciples in John 13:1-17, 34-35.
Why is love (rather than something else) the mark of a true disciple?
What would it look like to wash each other's feet in today's
Read Isaiah 53:1-9 and Philippians 2:1-11. What did Jesus' kind of
love involve? What in these passages motivates you to love? How
are we supposed to follow Jesus' example?
Read Romans 5:6-8. Here Paul emphasizes that Jesus' love was
unusual. How, then, can we take his example as one we should