Focus 2 (of 5)-Revisioning Society

Focus 2|Revisioning Society

Where do you fit, and who else fits with you? Your spot in society is yours—here you can contribute.
Consider this ice breaker question to get started.
What celebrity did you have a crush on as a child?
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.
Let’s talk about puzzle pieces.
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!)
Explain where society fits.

In the first part of this series, you discussed civilization and its counterpart—culture.

(Review the definition of civilization and culture with your group before reading on.)

If civilization is what humans do and use to interact with their environment, and if culture is that set of values and principles they use to make decisions within that environment, then a society is a group of people who are, together, applying the things of culture and civilization to their coexistence.

Discuss this question with your group: What is the smallest version of a society that you can think of? The largest?
Welcome Perspective
Your society is where you fit and where you can make a difference.
Enjoy this song about the people you’re next to.
Reread the closing section of the song. It’s deep.

How we spend our time
is how we spend our lives,
is who we become—
is how we spend our time.
Oh, the irony—
friends and enemies,
we’ll all be buried
side by side.

This paragraph speaks to the power and the brokenness of the societal associations in which we live. They are meant for your good, but they aren’t always good.
Figure out what it means to be side by side with someone.
While God was creating the world, everything he did was “good”—with one exception.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18

And so God made a woman and, in the family of Adam and Eve, created the first little society. God wanted them to have children and spread out over the whole earth into many groups of people enjoying what he’d made.

When sin came into the picture, things got complicated. Sin is the separation of those things that should be together, so you can imagine what it does to societies. As a result, God gave the law to both show people what loving each other in society was supposed to look like and (most practically) to show people how bad at loving they had become.

This law is summed up with the words “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

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.”
Romans 13:9

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:4

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
James 2:8

But who exactly is your neighbor? Jesus answered this question during his ministry:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He ans
wered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25–37
Be honest about your place in this story of society.
Share in this prayer, written by Howard Carter, a New Zealand-based pastor, as he reflected on the Good Samaritan—a story with which you can likely identify with each character in some way.

Father God,

We acknowledge that we know what love is because you first loved us.
We know what kindness is because you have shown us your kindness.
We know what grace and forgiveness are because you have forgiven us.
We know wholeness and healing because in you we are new creations.
We know this because in Christ you have shown us your great love.
You did not wait for us to come to you but came looking for us.
You saw us waylaid by our own sin, under the shadow of death.
You came to us on the roadside where we had been left robbed and beaten.
You healed our brokenness and bound our wounds.
You clothed us in your righteousness when ours was tattered rag.
You paid the price for us to be free and made whole again.
Forgiven because Christ died for us,
alive again because Christ was raised from the dead,
filled with joy because you dwell in us by the Holy Spirit,
able to have peace even in the midst of the continuing storms of life,
able to have peace because you left your peace with us.

We know that it is not all wonderful.
We know that everything isn’t just going to be swell.
You told us in this life we would have trouble,
but we know you continue to journey with us,
that you strengthen us and council us.
We know in Christ you have walked this path before us,
that by your Spirit Christ walks it with us,
that Christ has gone ahead to make a way home to you.

We confess we have sinned and done wrong.
We confess we have left undone the good you call us to do.
And we ask you again today to forgive us,
To wipe the slate clean and restore a right spirit within us.
We thank you that you are faithful and just.
We thank you that as we confess our sin you have forgiven us.

We pray you would fill us afresh with your spirit.
Help us to love our neighbor and our enemy,
to show them the love we have received from you.
Open our eyes to see them and their needs.
Open our hearts with the compassion of Christ.
Open our lives and our wallets to share what we have.
Empower our words and our deeds to embody you in the world.
May we love because you first loved us.
May we show kindness because you have shown us your kindness.
May we show grace and forgiveness because we are graciously forgiven.
May we offer the wholeness and healing we know that you bring.
May people know Christ because they see your great love in us.

Give thanks along with this song.
God has given you society, you’ve messed it up, and he’s forgiven you (and continued to give you society all the more). That’s good grace.
Worship Perspective
You are in no way meant to be alone. Loved ones are given loved ones.
Find yourself in this thoughtful song.
“You can grow up, make new ones, but the truth is there’s nothing like old friends because you can’t make old friends.”

Each of us should know the people who are in our society better than the ones who aren’t in it. (For example, you should know more about the people with whom you interact than you do about celebrities with whom you’ll never interact.)

Share the following with your group: your birthday, where you grew up, the size of your family, a favorite song, and if you’re yourself indoorsy or outdoorsy.

Of course, it’s more than just trivia. It’s living.

Read how God—even as he was crafting the society of Israelites—showed them what loving their neighbors looked like. (Notice that nearly every command here is about interacting with those with whom you associate.)

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

“‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.

“‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.

“‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people.

“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

“‘Do not steal.

“‘Do not lie.

“‘Do not deceive one another.

“‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

“‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

“‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

“‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

“‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.

“‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
Listen to what happens when it all goes really, really wrong—really.
There’s a tough story of a completely broken society in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Judges. Rather than having someone read it, listen to it using this video. (An important reminder: there’s basically nothing good that happens in this entire story. Everything is awful.)
Discuss this all using these questions:

  1. Leviticus 19 shows what it looks like when things go right, and Judges 19 shows what it looks like when they go horribly wrong. The real difference-maker is in Leviticus 19:2. What is it? 
  2. Judges 19 occurs in the nation of God’s chosen people—the only people, at the time, who had been given the words of Leviticus 19. How is the presence of God’s people in a society supposed to be the very opposite of what is seen in Judges 19? 
  3. Is the idea of deep corruption and sin among God’s people surprising to you? Can you think of other, similar occurrences in the church throughout history? 
  4. What are the most helpful things you can do to make sure the specific group of Christians you are part of not only stays away from corruption but also is a beneficial force for its larger society?
Observe this positive force at work.
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thessalonians 4:9–12
Learn Perspective
People of God can be the bright spots of their society by bringing God into it with them.
Walk through a day this past week.

Before you do, though, notice the parallels between the way these two sections of scripture talk about “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

Try to find three parallels (or more) between the two sections below?
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Galatians 5:13–18

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:8–13

Serve by loving. It is without question your calling to love every person with whom you interact. This is the very core of “love your neighbor as yourself.”

  1. Grab a piece of paper or open a note on your phone. 
  2. Go through a day this week, making a list of where you went with sub-bullets of the people you interacted with. 
  3. Put a checkmark next to each person about whom you’ve honestly thought “I love them.” 
  4. (Gold star for the day to whoever’s idea has everyone else going, “I could totally do that!”)

Can you say you love each of those people? Perhaps a better question is this: how could you say you love them? What could you do to show them your love for them?

Share one creative way you could show even a small amount of love to a specific person on your list with your group. (For example, “I’m going to tell my coworker how nice I think her Zoom background is next time we meet.”)
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
Associations can be much more if you just refuse to waste them.
Pray for your society—right now.
That is, pray for the people you did this Spotlight with today. (More specifically, pray a prayer of thanks for each person in your group.)

Spend one minute in silent, earnest prayer, thanking God for each of the people you do the Spotlight with—whether they were able to join today or not. (If you did the Spotlight by yourself, that’s great! Pray that you’ll have the chance to share it with someone soon.)
Listen to this song—together.
Speaking of your unique Spotlight community, here’s something that will bind you together: a new song, written just for this series.
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
God has loved the world and given you the chance to love the ones you’re with.
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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