Below you will find all of the questions to explore in conversation at your house churches for the month of April, 2016. Our theme is ‘eviland is built around the Deliver us from Evil podcast series by The Meeting House and Chapter 2 of Virtue Reborn by NT Wright. You’ll also find links to the podcasts that you can listen to each week. As always, we want to get some deep conversations happening in our house churches and then sharing of insights, ideas and queries through our Facebook groups and our Sunday gathering and meetup. I hope you find depth and meaning in this month’s conversations!
House Church #1 – Demons and Evil – 4-10 April, 2016
In our culture Christians are often considered to be naive, gullible, or even just plain unintelligent. Part of the reason for this claim is that Christians belief in things beyond the natural order, like spirits, angels or even demons. This is hard to escape because Jesus regularly interacts with spirits and demons in the Gospels. Obviously, there is no one uniform approach to demons, spirits and evil amongst Christians. Bruxy argues that the way Bible describes the nature and activity of demons is accurate. Others suggest that Jesus and the ancient writers of the Biblical text used language, metaphors and representations that were available to them in their time to describe the brushes with evil around them. Regardless of what we think, the Bible does make some significant points: evil is real, Satan’s mission is to deceive and destroy people, pride is at the heart of evil, and Jesus’ mission is about defeating and delivering humans from evil. Our community doesn’t derive our unity from where you draw the line on demons – you can believe what you want! However, we do want to be part of delivering ourselves, others and the world from evil, so this is a really important discussion for us to have.
- Do you believe in the reality of evil?
- What evil have you confronted in your life so far? Share examples of the kinds of evil that you’ve had brushes with – whether they be personal or just stories you’ve been exposed to.
- Does this evil worry you? Why or why not?
- Where do you think this evil comes from?
- What do you think is the best way to confront this kind of evil? And who should be the one confronting it?
- Read through some of the encounters Jesus had with demons – Luke 4:31-37, Luke 8:26-39, Luke 13:10-17, Matthew 15:21-28, Matthew 12:22-45. What stands out to you? Are these descriptions accurate or are they metaphors?
- How do you think the way of Jesus serves to deliver the world from evil?
House Church #2 – The Reality of Evil – 11-17th April
Whatever you may think about the reality of demons and spirits in the Biblical text, there are a number of points that these stories tell us about the nature of evil. It tells us that evil is inside us. We’ve all felt it – greed, lust, pride, anger, rage, envy and jealousy. We are all victims. In some form or another we have all felt the effects of others’ actions fueled by pride, greed and envy. There’s always a way out. No matter how far someone has gone, evil doesn’t define anyone, there is hope of transformation and we can help others be delivered from evil. We are all filled with something, with desires that orient our lives and actions, whether it be good or evil, love or hatred. And ultimately that we should not be afraid. The forces of darkness have no power of their own and love in the way of Jesus wins everytime. In light of the evil that all humans face throughout their existence, these ideas offer us great hope and a constructive way that we can be a force for good in our world.
- Do you think that evil is inside you? What are the most common ways you feel the pull of greed, lust, pride, anger, rage, envy or jealousy?
- Do you view others as victims of evil or just plain evil? Are there some simply ‘bad’ people or are all people victims of evil in some way? Try think of some examples.
- Do you think that all people can be redeeemed? What about a murderer? Or a rapist? Or a paedofile? Or a terrorist?
- What do you think it takes to be delivered from evil? How can we help ourselves and others to be freed from the grips of evil?
- What do you think of the idea we are all filled with something? Either the desires of the flesh – hatred, anger, pride and greed or the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace and self-control?
- Are we a community that is helping each other be delivered from evil? How can we do it better?
House Church #3 – The Transformation of Evil – 18th-24th April
No matter which way you slice it, it seems that evil is a reality in our world. The question that follows is: how can we best respond to the evil in our world? Instead of focusing on what we can’t change, we should focus on what we can change and what we are all best positioned to change is ourselves. Our character can be transformed by participating in a community that aims at a vision of good for our world, that creates practices for us to participate in that then form habits that become second nature, that become us. It is through the cultivation of habits that our character is transformed, that we are delivered from evil and we can make our biggest contribution to delivering the world from evil. Of course to participate in a community that facilities this process of transformation won’t always be a comfortable and nice experience. It will mean regular discomfort and disruption to our nicely planned out lives. However, it is the only way that we can ensure that we are becoming the kinds of humans that can be part of ridding evil from our world.
- What are some things about the world you wish you could change but know that, at least in the present moment, you can’t?
- Do you think participating in a community that has a vision for overcoming evil in the world is important? Why or why not?
- Is every choice you make or action you take aimed at a goal? Try to think of some examples. Can you see why aiming at the ‘right’ goal, whether that be personal character transformation or peace on earth, is crucial?
- Jesus said, ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ If you’re honest, where is your treasure? Where is your heart? Is it where you want it to be?
- In what ways might participating in a community that is aimed at overcoming evil with good in our world cause discomfort and disruption to our lives? What might this discomfort look like? Try to think of some practical examples.
- Do you think the disruption and discomfort and hard work of character transformation is worth it?
- What practical steps can you take today on your journey of personal transformation? What practices do you think you might need to embrace? What habits would you like to see cultivated in you?
House Church #4 – Recap and Making It Real
We’ve had a great month exploring ideas of evil and how we can practically respond to it. Just in case people in tonight’s conversation have missed a house church or two, skim through the last few weeks content and see if there’s any unresolved questions or ideas that people want to discuss. And then it’s time for us to get practical. Everything we do at Open House is built around ‘rhythms’ – each of us taking little steps forward in getting our lives in shape, aligning our actions and choices with our values.
- So…ahh…what do you think about demons? About evil? And about how we should respond to it?
- We are now over a third of the way through 2016. Can you remember what some of your goals for the year were?
- What have been some of your big struggles for 2016? Have those struggles helped you move towards your hopes for the year or have they gotten in the way?
- What have been some little signs that you are moving towards living the kind of life that you hope to live?
- Think about where you’re at and where you want to be. What do you need to do from here? What’s just one little thing that you can do to get moving a little in the right direction?
- Spend some time sharing your hopes for the future. What do you hope for for your family? For your community? For your neighbourhood? For the world?