My suggestion is that this text has more to do with eternal confidence than pastoral comfort.
I will begin with three questions and a personal confession. Share three stories form three church experiences that parallel what you have been gong through at SBF…
- What does the scripture say we will have on the day of judgment? (See 4:17a)
- Why will we have that type of confidence? (See 4:17b)
- Where is that type of confidence developed? (See 4:17)
I confess that I am a fork-aholic and the church was a great place for my favorite pastimes programs, pot-lucks and programs, I could be a CEO for Jesus…
Until God used pain to get my attention.
Church story #1 — We were great performers but poor relators and that I would have to give an account for my relationships as well as what I accomplished for God.
- Relationships hold the most potential for us to become like God according to His own definition of himself
See verse 4:16b
- Relationships confirm your conversion ( salvation) and give you confidence on the day of judgement
See verse 4:17
Church Story #2 of living outside of your self. Spirit’s testimony
- Relationships reveal our need to grow in grace and force us into fresh encounters with God the Holy Spirit.
See verse 4:17 – focus on among
CS Lewis – Rats in The Cellar- sins against charity (a quote from Lewis’ seminal work Mere Christianity)
“[When we begin to try to be like Christ] We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?
If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul. Now that cellar is out of reach of my conscious will. I can to some extent control my acts: I have not direct control over my temperament. And if (as I said before) what we are matters even more than what we do–if, indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are–then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about.
And this applies to my good actions too. How many of them were done for the right motive? How many for fear of public opinion, or a desire to show off? How many from a sort of obstinacy or sense of superiority which, in different circumstances, might equally have led to some very bad act?
But I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realise that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.”
Taking it home to SBF
- Are we more performers or relators here? (Programs or a deep spiritual community?)
- Are you open to living outside of yourself?
Rats in the Cellar – Our reactions in relationships
How to jump-start a tough relationship? Suggestions of questions to ask:
- Do I value our relationship?
- Do I place high value on the shed blood of Jesus Christ?
- Is there any area in our relationship in which we need to be reconciled?