Focus 2 (of 4)-Revisioning Existence

Focus 2|Revisioning Existence

As you contend with your existence, rest assured: God knows why you exist.
Consider this ice breaker question to get started.
Do you prefer funny stories or dramatic ones?

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.
Walk through this presentation.
In it, you will find the perfect definition of existence.
Or, you’ll find that…
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)

Welcome Perspective
Embrace existence: as chaotic as things seem, they could be much worse.
Meet God in the reality of existence.
Have a volunteer read the story of Moses and the burning bush aloud (if you’re Spotlighting in a group).

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”

When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

“Here I am!” Moses replied.

“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look! The cry of the people of Isr
ael has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”

God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.

This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.”
Exodus 3:1–15

God’s answer, “I AM WHO I AM,” is a statement about existence.

  • This definition of existence—here, now, evident, happening—finds its ultimate fulfillment in God. In his name “I AM” he makes a pure statement of existence. 
  • Recall his attributes—omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence—all immutable forms of here, now, evident, happening.
  • Scholars have argued that the Hebrew for “I am who I am” can be translated in the following ways:
    • I am who I am.
    • I will be what I will be.
    • I cause to be whatever comes into existence.

There’s truth in each of these. This is the name of a God who is not far away, in the past, obscure, and inactive. This is the name of a God who is here, now, evident, happening.

This God is present now—and here—and he’s evident in his promises, and what is happening he allows to happen. The song House on a Hill by Amanda Lindsey Cook (which you’re about to listen to) makes this present God concrete as if you were meeting him at his house.
Listen to this song about presence.
(Enjoy! It’s a beautiful piece.)
Reflect on what God’s creative power does.
Who is being described by these words?

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water;
before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth,
before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth.
I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,
rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.


Discuss these questions with your group:

  1. Bringing something into existence means organizing something out of chaos. How does the subject of the verses above do the same kind of work?
  2. The first words of the verses are “The Lord brought me forth.” How is this phrase like the meaning for the word existence we’ve discussed so far? (Think of ex + sistere…) 
  3. Does the work God did in these verses sound more to you like the work of an archaeologist, a miner, or an artist? What about the work of wisdom?
Worship in the worthiness of existence.
It means something to be brought out of chaos—to be contrasted to it. God has made you a meaningful specific. You have been brought out of the vagueness of everything and into being.

This song finds hope and value in the idea that God has chosen and worked to make you. It’s worth it to take a deep breath and appreciate that.

Lyrics from Who I Am by Blanca

Another voice, another choice
to listen to words somebody said.
Another day
I replay
one too many doubts inside my head.

Am I strong?
Am I good enough?
Do I belong
after all
that I’ve said and done?
Is it real
when I feel
I don't measure up?
Am I loved?

I’m running to the one who knows me,
who made every part of me in his hands.
I’m holding to the one who holds me
‘cause I know whose I am, I know who I am.
I am sure I am yours.

Turning down,
tuning out
every single word
that caused me pain.
and unafraid
‘cause I believe you mean it when you say

I am strong,
I am good enough,
I belong
after all
‘cause of what you've done!
This is real
what I feel—
no one made it up—
I am loved!

I’m running to the one who knows me,
who made every part of me in his hands.
I’m holding to the one who holds me
‘cause I know whose I am, I know who I am.

I am sure I am yours.
I know who I am.
I am sure I am yours.

you have made me.

I’m running to the One who knows me.
I’m holding to the One who holds me.

I’m running to the one who knows me,
who made every part of me in his hands.
I’m holding to the one who holds me
‘cause I know whose I am, I know who I am.

I am sure I am yours
and I know who I am.
Worship Perspective
God made sense out of the existential crisis. He’ll also do yours.
Figure out what God really wants to exist.
As God brings you out of the chaos, he’s certainly making you, the individual—but there’s more. He consistently shows what he’s working to make throughout history.

Your task is to:
  1. Read through the document by clicking the button below.
  2. Find the two things every section shares. 
  3. Retell the story that the sections of the document tell when you read them in the order they’re listed.
  4. God is organizing something out of chaos. Identify what he is making.

Start thinking about worldview.
Take 4–5 minutes to consider what your answers would be on this worldview assessment from an 8th-grade social studies course. (As you go through it, know that the goal today is less about your answers and more about thinking about what makes up a worldview.)

01. People are naturally good.
Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree

02. People should just try to have fun by pursuing leisure activities and not worry about work and accomplishing great things.
Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree

03. All humans are equal, and no one should get special privileges.
Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree

04. We should care for others first, and worry about ourselves second.
Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree

05. Individual rights are more important than the rights of society.
Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree

06. Preserving nature is more important than using its resources to support human activity.
Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree

07. The truth about what is morally right or wrong is found in an objective authority and not in each individual’s personal beliefs.
Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree
Think even more about worldview.
Worldview can be a big, unwieldy concept. It can be difficult to talk about because it is difficult to quantify. At the same time, worldview is simple because it’s just the way you interact with what’s happening right here, right now.

Leo Apostel was a midcentury Belgian philosopher who in his work often connected science and humanities and is known best for writings on atheist religious practices. He spent considerable time defining “worldview” and breaking down what components build a worldview. A Wikipedia summary of his description of what a worldview is made of is:
  • An explanation of the world.
  • An eschatology, answering the question: “Where are we heading?”
  • Values, answering ethical questions: “What should we do?”
  • A praxeology, or methodology, or theory of action: “How should we attain our goals?”
  • An epistemology, or theory of knowledge: “What is true and false?”
  • An etiology. A constructed worldview should contain an account of its own “building blocks,” its origins and construction.

The Apostle Paul gave an overview of worldview when he spoke in Athens about God and Jesus. Here it is:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
Acts 17:24–28

Answer and/or discuss this: How many of Leo Apostel’s aspects of worldview are included here?
Find hope in a worldview.
As people grapple with their existence, they develop a worldview. It’s a good, human thing to do. That worldview will always be imperfect and limited, but it can be helpful.

This song is an invitation from God to see his view of the world.

Learn Perspective
The whole universe is organized for the sake of holding you together.
Let the miracle of existence help you coexist.

The original “coexist” symbol, as created by Piotr Mlodozeniec. (Ironically, the image is now embroiled in lawsuits over copyright infringement. Good try, I guess.)

“We are God’s offspring,” says Paul, addressing a group of philosophers who acknowledge dozens of gods—and after he says it, they want to hear more.

Paul treated them as they were: people formed by God, precious to him, and gifted with specific and meaningful existence. How is it, do you think, that human beings so easily lose track of this as they interact with one another?
Take an honest look at what your worldview is moving you to do right now.
This song is heavy, and there are images of refugees and victims of violence in the video that may disturb some viewers. All images are of real events. Discretion is advised.

Click here to learn more about Alan Kurdi, the young refugee mentioned in the song.
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
Those who know why they exist should be the best at coexisting well.
Listen to this song, trusting that this existence is good—always good.
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
To make room for us to get to know each other, God let what is be.
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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