At CityLife Church, we would define a Life Group as1. A Care croup2. A Discipling group3. A Serving group, and4. An Outreach group
For this study, we’ll focus particularly on purpose #2, that LG is a Discipling group.Read – Genesis 1:26-27; Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 8:28-29; Colossians 1:15-23
Genesis 1:26-27 tells us God’s original intent for human beings; that men and women are meant to be the image and likeness of God, to represent Him in ruling over the earth. Of all God’s creation, only human beings are made in the image and likeness of God.
Sin mars and distorts the image of God in us, so that more often, instead, we see an ugliness to humanity that God never intended. Every human being has gone the way of Adam and Eve, who chose to disobey God, go their own way, and decide for themselves what was ‘good’ for them. Without God, however, we cannot consistently sustain showing forth the image of God; how can we reflect (like in a mirror) the likeness of God when we turn away from Him?
However, God rescues us through Jesus Christ (cf. Isaiah 53), and His gospel plan for those who have been redeemed, is that we should become like Christ who is the perfect image and likeness of God (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15). Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9-11).
As part of God’s family now, with God’s spiritual DNA (His Holy Spirit) in us, we should show forth the family likeness!
But what does Group Life have to do with becoming more like Christ?
Throughout the New Testament, and in the practice of modern spiritual formation, there are four things that God consistently uses to move people toward Christ and Christ-likeness:1. Holy Spirit, Pray2. The Word (more than just Bible, but the Gospel message), Proclaim3. Faith Community, People4. Not giving up, Persevere
A succinct way to put it might be – God’s Spirit, God’s Word, God’s People, Repeat.
See if you can identify these four essential elements in the following passages.Read – Luke 24:45-49; Acts 14:21-23; Ephesians 4:1 - 5:2; 1 Corinthians 3:1-17
[If you have time, you could choose one of the shorter NT epistles – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter. Note down everything you can find about how people become Christians and grow as Christians. You’ll find the same pattern of these four essential elements. Recommended reading: ‘The Vine Project’ by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, chapter on ‘How are disciples made?’]
For this study, again we just want to highlight one – God’s people, and the importance of having other Christians on the journey with us, and in very close contact.Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Consider the examples of a knife being honed and sharpened, river rocks being shaped in the current, or a diamond jewel being cut and polished from raw diamond using other diamonds! In each instance, the desired effect can only happen through very close contact.
That’s how it is with us also, that as God works in us by His Spirit and His Word, persistently over and over, we need to work with Him and not against Him. And one of the most important ways we can cooperate with God is to have other Christians in our lives, whom we connect with close enough, real enough, regular, and often enough that OUR LIVES RUB OFF ON EACH OTHER!
And in this way, God uses us in each other’s lives to shape the image and likeness of Christ in us.Questions for reflection and discussion:
1. Discuss the four essential elements that God uses to shape the image and likeness of Christ in us? Whatever terminology you use …
• Holy Spirit, His Word, Faith Community, don’t give up
• Pray, Proclaim, People, Persevere
• God’s Spirit, God’s Word, God’s people, repeat
Are you able to see this pattern in the Scripture passages above? Is there anything else God uses to shape Christ in us?
2. The idea of “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) – or diamond on diamond to form a glittering jewel – requires very close contact, repeatedly, and over time. Discuss some examples/opportunities of what that might look like, with Christian life-on-life rubbing off on one another.
3. How could you incorporate more “close enough, real enough, regular and often enough” dynamics into your Life Group rhythms and activities?
4. Do you have an accountability partner who can regularly challenge you with these two questions –
• “What is God saying to you?”
• “What are you going to do about it?”
Jesus said, “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them” (Matt 18:20, read the whole context vv.15-20). Who could be that 1 or at most 2 other people, for you to sharpen one another in Christ?