Focus 2 (of 4)-The Burdens You Assume

Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.
Share a time when you were the last to realize something that everyone else already seemed to know. 

Focus 2 | The Burdens You Assume

Let’s talk about tea prices in China.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight. (And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 2" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Interact with this presentation to consider what God wants of you.
The Bible’s story of Job is remarkable. Pain, doubt, questions, misinformation, and faith are all met with the same thing: The answer of the Almighty. In each part of this series, you’ll walk with a different character from the story through their thoughts. First, you’ll hear from Job (the first part of this series—you can check that out here). Then, you’ll hear from his terrible friends, followed by a young man named Elihu. Finally, the voice of God.

(If you’d like an excellent, quick summary of Job’s story, click here.)

Can you find the common threads in these words? Before you interact with this image, get out some way to take notes—hopefully, one you’ll use for the remainder of the Spotlights in this series. As you interact, write down one or two broad implications of the things Job’s friends say. In other words, when they see Job’s suffering, what assumptions do they make about the cause and solution of the suffering?
Respond to this by listening to and meditating on this song.

Asking questions, wanting an answer, and bearing the weight of waiting for an answer are exactly as common as just having questions. It’s universal—every human has done it and will do it. Even Jesus, as he lived his life, asked unanswered questions of God.

The song The Silence of God is about the times you have questions but no answers, and it beautifully connects that experience to Jesus, who knows exactly what it feels like.
The Silence of God by Andrew Peterson

It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith;
It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane,
When he’s bleating for comfort from thy staff and thy rod
and the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God.

It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart—
when he has to remember what broke him apart.
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
when the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God.

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got,
when they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
then what about the times when even followers get lost?
’Cause we all get lost sometimes…

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
in the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
and he’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a stone
all his friends are sleeping and he’s weeping all alone.

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
what sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought.
So, when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
the aching may remain, but the breaking does not…
the aching may remain, but the breaking does not
in the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God.
Respond to that by singing of the true goal: even in silence, to be with the Lord.
What is the correct, best, and most right pizza order?

(Scroll down for an exercise in finding the baggage that comes along with questions.)

Discuss (if you’re in a group) or consider (if you’re by yourself) the reality of ordering pizza.
How can the answer to “What should we order?” change when…
  • the number of people changes?
  • the dietary restrictions of the group change?
  • the place the pizza will be eaten changes?
  • the person(s) paying for it changes? 
  • the time for eating it changes?

There are as many “correct” pizza orders as there are people—it’s a question with what some call “1,000 right answers.” A similar phenomenon happens when you set out to identify the ways that the questions people hold become burdensome to them—it changes from person to person.

Though that variety does mean it takes a little more work to actually answer a person’s question in a way that is effective for them, don’t be too surprised. As was discussed in the first week of this Spotlight series, it’s never really been about the answers. Instead, it’s about love, and finding ways to love the actual person in front of you. (At the end of the day, that’s what pizza is about, too.)

Let’s work on identifying the baggage.

“We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’
But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.
But whoever loves God is known by God.”

These words from chapter eight of 1 Corinthians are very wise and speak to the core of how to handle questions. Do you know what specific topic they were originally addressing?

Take a look at the chapter to find out: 

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

“Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”
People carry a lot of burdens—many of which they put on themselves.
  • They take on the burden of answering for the universe.
  • They take on the burden of answering for guilt.
  • They take on the burden of controlling relationships.

In every case, human beings can’t bear those burdens and only end up angrier and more uncertain. Letting the almighty answer creates space that lets others be others and trusts love (and don’t miss what 1 Corinthians 8:3 said about love) to cover all.

Let's discuss the bridge in the picture above. Its job is to support cars as they cross the water. What are the different methods it employs to hold the cars above the water? More importantly, how might the method you point out be a metaphor for the ways people are supported as they carry their questions?
Here are the questions that were shared so far in this series:

Why does God not interact with us in a tangible way anymore?

Does God truly always have a plan for my future and my faith?

What's up with Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac? Why is he praised for his blind faith in God when that would have been an evil act?

How much does God want us to get better at being holy? How much does he want us to want to get better?

Why do bad things happen to some Christians, while blessings are seemingly poured out on some non-Christians?

How do you know if you feel God directing you to do something? How do you know it's God and not your mind, subconscious, circumstances, society, coincidence, self, etc

How accepting is God with regard to the diversity of what people believe about Him/religion?

Noah's ark seems fake. Have you ever watched a zoo keeping show? How could Abraham and his sons have done all the work? How did they bring enough to feed all the animals? Even if subspecies are ignored this still seems impossible. Did God make all the animals go into a coma for weeks? Also, that story is grusome and series, why do we make it so silly and fun for children.

Where Galatians 3:28 says "there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus", does that mean that there isn't any gender separation anymore and that gender can be a spectrum?

Why does God give people gifts if they can’t/don’t use them? Doesn’t he know?

Perhaps you submitted a question or two in that list.
  • We are not going to answer these today. Please resist! 
  • Let’s think about them, though. What’s the value of the church - that is, the community, not the building - being a place where people can ask questions? 
  • What about churches might make people feel like they don’t have permission to ask questions? 
  • How can Christian communities help people feel safe to come with questions…and to leave with them? 
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Meditate on God’s desire for your questions using the video below.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.

Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.                          

No Comments