A New You for the New Year – Better Together – Sermon Resources
Engaging the Practical Tip
When we believe that we earn our way into favor with God, we become susceptible to believing other false narratives that short-circuit our transformation and distort our lives. Since we have been hurt, mistreated, ignored, or marginalized by others, we falsely believe that we don’t need and can’t trust anyone else. We fear rejection, pain, suffering, and disappointment. We don’t want to be let down. We don’t want to depend on others. We don’t want to be taken advantage of.
God always intended for us to be in community. It was in community that God created us, and it is in community that we reflect his image and experience his love. We were never intended to be alone, to experience this life apart from community.
Throughout our existence, we have gathered together in tribes. We see this reflected in every major people group on earth because we are safer, healthier, and happier when we do life together.
This is echoed in scripture from the very beginning, through the story of Israel–12 tribes from 12 brothers–to the early church. As Jesus enters history, he introduces a new type of tribe, one that doesn’t recognize accomplishment, achievement, race, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status as reasons of inclusion (or exclusion for that matter). He gathers together a witnessing community centered around himself, and his work on the cross. We call this new tribe the church. Faith networks create welcome and acceptance, loyalty, hope, forgiveness, healing and transformation.
Jesus tells us that our lives are better together. Let’s listen to Jesus.
Inviting God to Heal Our Community
For this sermon series, we are focusing on a single habit: practicing the spiritual discipline of being present. But before we can be present with others we have to learn how to be present and comfortable with ourselves.
Take some time this week, 10 minutes maybe, and imagine yourself in the position of the paralyzed man.
Have there been times when you were rejected or excluded by your family, friends, teachers, co-workers, your authoritative interpreters?
How did this feel? Try to describe the raw emotions you felt at the time and the lingering feelings you may still have now.
Share these feelings with God. How does God feel about your pain?
Can you recall times when you rejected or excluded others, or participated in a group’s rejection of others?
Try to imagine how these people felt in their rejection. How do you feel about these events? Share these feelings with God.
Try to identify with Jesus’ words to the paralyzed man: “Your sins are forgiven.” How do you feel about this? Do you resist the need to be forgiven by Jesus? Do you feel that you can’t be forgiven for what you’ve done in your life? Share these feelings with God and be open to the way that God is with you.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.