Focus 4 (of 5)-You've Never Had an English Muffin Before

Focus 4 | You've Never Had an English Muffin

Funny title, important message.
Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.
What beverage goes best with pizza?
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 English Muffins.
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!)
Share a definitive food experience.

If you’re doing this Spotlight with a group, share a specific food (like “your mom’s spaghetti” or “Remy’s ratatouille”) that, for you, is what every other version of that dish/food is compared to.

More importantly, explain why this version of that food is definitive to you. Is it a flavor? A particular ingredient? The simple fact that you grew up with it?

Now, imagine what it would take for that definitive food to be replaced in your mind and palette. How good would this new version have to be? For those foods whose significance is based on memories, special people, or specific circumstances—what would it take to replace them in your mind?

(“Blasphemy!” you say. “Nothing could be better than the way my dad would mix Oreos into ice cream when I was a kid!” And that’s fair. It’s hard to beat those memories. So maybe there’s a way to meet in the middle.)

This Spotlight isn’t about changing your favorite food, but it is about seeing God, especially the person of God shown in Jesus Christ, as game-changing to relationships. If there were a way to add something to your favorite dish to make it even more definitive than it already is—that’s what Christ does for relationships.

Take the best interpersonal relationship you can imagine, add Jesus to it, and and it can become almost unrecognizably better. Let’s see how.

Welcome Perspective
Jesus + Nothing = Everything,
Nothing = Jesus + Everything
Begin by listening to this song.
Looking for Some Light by Colony House sets up a simple truth: “Everybody’s looking for some light.”
Lyrics from Looking for Some Light by Colony House

I look around a room that's filled with faces,
every tear a window to the soul
like silent unsung symphonies,
the wild and the wonderful mysteries,
masterpieces I will never know.

‘Cause everybody’s looking for some light.
You know everybody’s looking for
some light.

Oh, and when the world is weighing on your shoulder,
when the sorrow's heavy on your soul
carry on and sing it like a soldier:
Saying, "Come on! Come on!
We're gonna make it home!"

‘Cause everybody’s looking for some light.
You know everybody’s looking for some light.
So come on, come on,
‘cause everybody’s looking for
some light.

And darkness blurs the vision
like a veil before our eyes
that love alone is able
to divide.

Oh, you know everybody's looking for some light.
You know everybody's looking for some light.

So come on, come on, sing it like a soldier,
come on, come on, you know it ain't over.
Everybody's looking for some light!

So come on, come on, sing it like a soldier!
Come on, come on, you know it ain't over!
Everybody's looking for some light.
You know everybody's looking for some light.
You know everybody's looking for…

The bridge of this song says this:

And darkness blurs the vision like a veil before our eyes that love alone is able to divide.

This single sentence explains both the problem and the solution this song addresses.

You talked about the veil in the second focus of this Spotlight Series, “Be the Lens, Not the Shutter,” where it was discussed in 2 Corinthians 3:14–15:

13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.

These verses were discussing the major difference between “approaching God by trying to be good enough for him to love you” and “letting God love you unconditionally in Jesus.” Moses wore a veil because the people he was leading had a rule-based (or obedience-based) view of God. This view only really worked to show them how unfaithful, disobedient, and unworthy they were of him, and it was like a veil that covered their eyes.

This is actually explained nicely in Romans 3:20:

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

But how can that veil be “divided,” as the song suggests? Chapter three of 2 Corinthians explains that, too:

…only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

Here’s the thing: Moses’ veil isn’t the only veil, and it isn’t talked about as the only veil. The line from Looking for Some Light suggested that “love alone is able to divide” the veil. That language is taking Moses’ veil and connecting to the “temple veil”—a large curtain that hung between the Most Holy Place in the temple (where nobody but the High Priest could go because it represented God’s presence) and the rest of the temple.

Read what happened to that veil the moment Jesus died:

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open.

Matthew 27:50–52a

You are welcome to try to design a better metaphor for the way that true love can divide the veil of darkness that separates us from God and one another, but I can’t think of one.

Going further, take a look at the goodness that comes when the veil has been removed:

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:19–25

Worship the one who makes the best possible relationships possible.
This song does an award-winning job of praising Jesus for his role in facilitating relationships. Watch how the verses (“…one with God the Lord Most High…” and “…you didn’t want heaven without us…”) describe the Triune God reaching out for us. Notice how the bridge (“…death could not hold you, the veil tore before you…”) praise what he’s done and how the refrain shows him as the key to the whole thing.

(It feels worth mentioning that this song came from Hillsong’s album Let There Be Light.)
Worship Perspective
Jesus is at the center of what makes every good thing actually good.
Don’t stop with the temple veil.
As it turns out, Christ is the whole temple, and that temple is all about facilitating loving relationship.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

John 2:13–22
Discuss the video with these questions:

  1. Recap the connection between Eden, the Temple, and Jesus.
  2. What are the “mini temples” discussed at 3:44ff?
  3. If you’re doing this Spotlight in a group, have you considered the idea that you’re in a temple right now? Does that change the way you feel about the Spotlight? For better or worse?
  4. Is the best way to function in a temple by being more formal? Do the ideas in this video, in the story about Jesus above, and in this series suggest that there’s a better “best way to function in the temple”?
Watch Jesus take relationships from good to great.
Click here and submit five attributes of Jesus. They don’t have to be overly theological—just five things you’d say in describing him to someone as though you were describing a friend.

Jesus represents each of these attributes to perfection. He is the ultimate fulfillment of them and the best example of them that we could imagine.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:16–18

Every relationship involving humans involves imperfect beings. (Accepting and recognizing this is one of life’s key skills.) At the same time, Jesus—as the true light—plays some role in facilitating every good relationship. The extent to which people acknowledge, celebrate, and lean into his role in their relationship makes a difference. 

Paul talks about this beautifully in Romans 13.

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 13:8–14

Discuss these verses using the questions below.

  1. What does vs 8 establish as the theme of this section?
  2. How does vs 14 describe the best way to do what vs 8 suggests?
  3. Christ’s presence in your relationships takes many forms, but it starts with you “clothing yourself with Christ,” that is, putting on his attributes. Imagine the difference having a perfect version of all the attributes of Christ you listed above in your relationships! Which do you think would make the greatest difference for you today, and why? 
  4. How can you clothe yourself in Christ so he is more present in all of your relationships?
Review these thoughts through this song.
Slumber by Needtobreathe was inspired by these verses from Romans 13.
Lyrics from Slumber by Needtobreathe

Days they force you
back under those covers.
Lazy mornings they multiply.
Glory's waiting
outside your window;
wake on up from your slumber,
baby, open up your eyes.

Tongues are violent,
personal, and focused
Tough to beat with
Your steady mind
But hearts are stronger after broken
So, wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table
Just enough to get by
All the while
Your invitation
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

Take from vandals
All you want now
Please, don't trade it in for life
Replace your feeble
With the fable
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table
Just enough to get by
All the while
Your invitation
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

Come on
Sing like we used to
Dance when you want to
Taste of the breakthrough
And open wide

All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table
Just enough to get by
All the while
Your invitation
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes
Wake on up from your slumber
Baby, open up your eyes

Come on
Sing like we used to
And dance like you want to
Come on darling and open your eyes

I wanna sing it like we used to
And I wanna dance like we want to
Come on darling and open up your eyes
Learn Perspective
Not only can your relationship with Jesus go from bad to good in an instant, it can bad to great!
Ask yourself what would work for you.
Consider a time when you were invited into something and actually joined—a club, a church, a COVID pod, it doesn’t matter—and try to map out why it worked.

  1. Were there any particular needs you felt that made it easy to see why joining in to this group was worthwhile? 
  2. Did someone/some people from the group do or say something that made you want to be a part of it? What did they say, and why did it resonate?
  3. How long did it take for you to consider that group as something important in your life? That is, how long was the journey from “I’ll try it” to “I’m part of this!”
Do the same for your person.
If you invite someone to join a Spotlight Focus Group, you are (at least in theory) inviting them to enter into caring, genuine relationships. This doesn’t happen on day one, but it is the point.

Based on the answers you gave above, how would the person you’ve been thinking of and praying for best be invited into this kind of a group?

  1. What particular needs and circumstances would make the invitation valuable?
  2. What could you or people in the group do to make them more comfortable and interested even now?
  3. How can you communicate to them that they have grace to “try it out”?
  4. How could Illume serve you best as you do this? What resources could we provide? Submit your answers in the comment section below.
Pray for your person.
We’ve said repeatedly today that Jesus is the greatest facilitator of relationship. Let’s get him involved as you serve your person.

  1. Pray that he’d deepen your personal relationship with them, no matter where it is now.
  2. Pray that he’d help you to love them as he loves—with unconditional, sacrificial grace.
  3. Praise him for working on them even now, as you pray for 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.
Serve Perspective
You will try to serve people, and that’s good. Jesus will make it something truly great.
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.
Farewell Perspective
Once you taste the way Jesus changes relationships, there’s no going back.
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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