Evaluating Necessity (Focus 4 of 4)

Focus 4 | Evaluating Necess(ity)

Necessity is not “more or less OK.” Necessity is “what you can’t do without.”
Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.

Name something that you don't really need, but you'd really, really, really rather not go without. 
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 4" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let’s talk about evaluating neccessity.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)

Here’s a question: Which day in history was the most harmful to western Christianity?

Obviously, the devil is terrible, humanity is weak, and you and I can’t see everything that’s going on—so we’re not sure—but here’s a day that’s had some truly negative effects: October 28th, 312 AD.

This was the day that Constantine I bested Maxentius in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, becoming the sole ruler of the greatest single political power in the western world at the time.

More importantly, though, it’s the day that historians believe marks the beginning of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.

Versions differ, but the story goes that sometime before the battle, Constantine was marching with his army. Suddenly, above the sun, he saw a light in the shape of a cross, accompanied by the words in hoc signo, vinces (which means “In this symbol, victory.”) He didn’t really understand it until that evening when Jesus told him in a dream that he could use the cross against his enemies.

Not one to waste a vision, Constantine ordered that the Chi-Rho symbol be put on shields and standards to lead the army into battle. Lo and behold, it worked—Constantine won the battle and, like a football fan with a lucky hoodie, never went into battle without a Chi-Rho again.

More than that, Constantine was the first major emperor of Rome to treat Christianity with a favorable disposition, eventually making it the official religion of the realm. As such, Christianity went from being a persecuted religion somewhat on the fringe to being the exclusive faith of the greatest empire in the western world—almost overnight.

From that day onward—in the west—Christianity has been the chief, central, reigning religion. Before long, the church was the wealthiest organization in the world, owned more land than any other group, and could wage brutal wars in which Christians intentionally killed Jews and Muslims (people they believed were going to hell if they died.)

What happened to that group of people who sold their possessions to share with anyone who had need? What happened to the ones who followed a humble carpenter who had been crucified? As Christianity came out of the catacombs and climbed into cathedrals, success started to be equated with excess instead of doing whatever was necessary to give people access to God’s loving embrace.

Today, we discuss that which is truly necessary, and why knowing what enough looks like can be so valuable. (Hint: It’s not just Jesus, though he’s absolutely vital.) When Christians can let enough be enough, God’s will is done and his kingdom comes in amazing ways.
Let’s review where we’re been so far.
Divide and conquer by following these steps:

Start by dividing your group into thirds (if you’re going through this Spotlight in a group).
  1. Assign a term from one of this series’ previous weeks to each of the thirds of the group.
  2. PART 1 = EXCESS
  4. PART 3 = ACCESS
  5. Try to come up with your own definition of your assigned part’s word.
  6. Come back together as a whole group to present and talk through each week’s definitions.

We’ve walked through the ideas of excess, success, and access. Now comes the point of it all—the point of today’s Spotlight and the point of the entire series: the goodness of necessity.

God is showing each of us what “enough” truly looks like, and he’s doing that for a reason. Finding the reason for his “enough” is the same as finding satisfaction, purpose, and contentment.
Welcome Perspective

Necessity provides more than enough—necessity provides purpose and peace.
Listen and discuss the Holy Spirit.
  1. Press play to start listening to this song (below).
  2. Contemplate these questions while you listen: 
  • This song is a prayer to the Holy Spirit—inviting him to come and be part of our moment and part of our lives.
  • Watch for the various ways that the song matches the “entering in” of God with the “pouring out” of love—the two go hand in hand.
  • One of the places on which this entering in and pouring out hinges is the Word of God, which verse two prays about extensively.
Discover what it means that necessity = enough = good = contentment.
The devil’s lie is that “you don’t have enough.” But the irony of that lie is that you suffer whenever you have something other than God’s version of enough.

The devil has the advantage that all the points on the spectrum but one are his. We have the advantage that the one the devil lacks is God’s.

Answer this question for youself: Where on this scale do you find yourself most often?

Read through the following passages about this idea. Partner with someone and share: Which one do you most connect with today, and why?

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:17–19

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12–13

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:6–10
Let God steer us toward enough—Go(o)d enough.
Give each person a passage to read (for those who feel comfortable), and then go around reading each passage aloud as they’re listed below.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Genesis 2:2

The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
Genesis 2:9

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
Genesis 6:5

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
Genesis 9:20–21

If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
Genesis 11:6

Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.
Genesis 13:5–6

Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah
Genesis 29–30

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Genesis 37:3–4
Worship Perspective
God’s definition of necessity gives us guidance toward enough.
Read and reflect—on enough.

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Matthew 8:18–22

Meditate on this privately—take a few minutes to consider.

"Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head."

Was this a flaw?
Was this a complaint?
Nope. Definitely not.
It was a way of saying to the man, “If you want to follow me, you’ll have what you need to follow me, but you won’t have that which will not help you follow me.”

  1. Can you answer this (above) of your possessions: “How is each thing I own helping me follow the way of Jesus?” 
  2. Why do you need to know what enough looks like for you? Jesus seemed to have a clear idea about his assets. Why do you think he needed to have that perspective?

“When the scribe offers to follow him, Jesus neither accepts nor declines the offer. His reply strikes the heart of the matter—the man must see, not in idealism, but ins sober, sane realism, what his offer involves. Jesus illuminates the way on which he leads his disciples, and this way is not bordered with roses.”
Lenski, Commentary on Luke
Read and discuss—on asceticism.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:16–18

Discuss as a group—take a few minutes to consider.
  1. This Spotlight's focus is not on asceticism. To be clear, what is asceticism? Based on Jesus’ words here, what can be a flaw of extreme asceticism?
  2. Various minimalist movements exist in the world right now, from KonMari to Kim Kardashian’s “Minimalist Monastery.” How can minimalism become its own version of hoarding? (That is: What can someone pursuing an ascetic lifestyle become overly focused on, just like a hoarder might?)
Consider redistributing excess.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42–47

"All the believers were together and had everything in common."
This verse does not mean that the people were all exactly the same. It means they had everything - everything everybody needed - when all the believers were together. What about this description of the believers in Acts 2 is different from your group, or from your church? What would need to change in your group or at your church to make it more like this group that is being described here? 
Learn Perspective
Enough is less about how much or little you have and more about God.

Minimal vs. Tiny

Activity: Exploring Moral Obligations Towards the Poor

Objective: A short but thoughtful discussion on the moral and ethical implications of expecting the poor to live minimally.

Additional Guidelines:
  1. Respect everyone's opinions and viewpoints, even if they differ from your own.
  2. Stay focused on the topic at hand and avoid personal attacks or derogatory language.
  3. Aim for inclusivity, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the discussion.
  4. The goal is not to reach a consensus but to explore different perspectives and deepen understanding.


Step 1: Group Formation
  1. Divide into two equal groups. 
  2. Designate one group as Group A and the other as Group B.

Step 2: Discussion Rounds
  1. Each group will have two discussion rounds, with each round focusing on one of the following questions:
    • Round 1: "What moral obligations do Christians have toward the poor?"
    • Round 2: "Should our goal for others be higher than a minimal standard?"

Round 1: "What moral obligations do Christians have toward the poor?"
  1. Group A will discuss this question first for 3 minutes.
  2. Group B will listen actively without interrupting. 
  3. After the discussion, Group B will have 2 minutes to provide constructive feedback or ask clarifying questions.

Round 2: "Should our goal for others be higher than a minimal standard?"
  1. Group B will discuss this question for 3 minutes while Group A listens.
  2. Group A will listen actively without interrupting. 
  3. After the discussion, Group A will have 2 minutes to provide constructive feedback or ask clarifying questions.
Find a way to support the work of the Low Income Housing Institute. 

As we've discussed the concept of "enough" over the course of the series, we've taken a look at the usefulness of tiny houses as being "just enough" to get people on their feet and to help them transition to permanent housing, secure work, and hopeful living.

Today, consider how you and those you've done this Spotlight series with might be able to directly support LIHI and their work. You could, for example...
If you have a different idea for how you can contribute to the Tiny House Villages, go for it! If you'd like assistance from an Illume staff person in making your dream a reality, please email info@illume.church
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.
Serve Perspective
God does not call us to love minimally, he helps us love enough.
Let’s pray the Lord’s Prayer.
(If you’re doing this in a group, read it aloud as a group, in unison.)

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power, and the glory
are yours now and forever.
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.
Be thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought by day and by night,
waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, be Thou my true Word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father and I Thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle shield, Sword for the fight;
be Thou my dignity,thou my delight
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r,
raise me Thou heav’nward, oh Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
thou my inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.


High King of heaven,my victory won
may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun.
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O ruler of all.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O ruler of all.
Farewell Perspective

God is enough, and he can redefine necessity for you.
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.                          

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