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For study and reflection, personally or with family, friends, or your small group:
To help get you started, think about the conversations and encounters you’ve had with other Christians. Have those been positive encounters? Negative? What made them positive or negative?
Read the story of Jonah from the Old Testament.
- How does God describe the people of Nineveh?
- How would you describe his attitude towards the people of Nineveh?
- How did this affect the way Jonah obeyed God?
- What are some ways that you’ve responded to those outside of Christ that are similar to Jonah?
Read Luke 9:51-56.
- How are the responses of James and John (nicknamed, Sons of Thunder) similar to that of Jonah?
- Why did they want to destroy the Samaritan village?
- In your Bible, you’ll likely find footnote that reads something like, “Some manuscripts include, ‘You don’t realize what your hearts are like, for the Son of Man has not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.”
- What is Jesus telling us about our hearts?
- What is Jesus telling us about himself and his mission?
Read Colossians 4:2-6. Paul is talking about the necessity of prayer as preparation in our encounters with those who are unbelievers. Why is this necessary?
Read 2 Timothy 2:15-26. Paul instructs Timothy about the necessity of personal purity as preparation in our encounters with those who are not believers. Why is this necessary?
Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. The church at Corinth was dealing with a serious issue. And in the midst of this, Paul gives them insights into how they (and we) ought to deal with people- insiders one way, and outsiders another way. How have you seen this demonstrated well? How have you seen this demonstrated poorly? What do you like or dislike about Paul’s instruction? Why?
Spend some time in discussion about your own preparation levels of prayer and personal purity. Talk about a time when more prayer would’ve been beneficial. Talk about a time when your lack of purity was a hindrance to your witness. Talk about what it would look like if you took Paul’s words seriously in the 1 Corinthians text. Close with a time of prayer, specifically that you’d have an alert mind and thankful heart, that God would give you many opportunities to speak about Christ, and proclaim him clearly.