Title: We are Different
Bible verses: Acts 16 – 28
Weekly Outline: Same, same but different
The teams of disciples that went out including Paul in Acts went to the ends of the earth as they knew it and changed the society around them. They didn’t go into society and “fit in” they were different to make a difference. It is in the “in this world but not of it” in John 17 that Jesus prays for.
This week focus on the impact of the gospel in Acts 16-28, starting Churches in Philippi after having a praise party in prison, the riot in Ephesus because the people were so transformed by the message of the gospel that the economy of the city was changed, speaking to the people in Athens about the “unknown” God. They made an impact no matter wherever they went.
We are called, like the early Church to go and preach the gospel of Christ to ends of the earth. As we see in Acts 16-28, the mission of the Church was to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15).
As those impacted by Christ went out, they changed the world as we know it, by being different and changing the society in which they were planted. On the day of Pentecost, God-fearing Jews were impacted by the power of the Holy Spirit and Peter’s message (2:5), the list in 2:5 all went back to their communities and brought Christ to their cities. Many churches of the 1st century are traced back to this event, including the church in Rome and Crete.
The church in Crete is the church that Titus oversees. So how did they impact their communities, by being like Christ. Cretans were liars and evil brutes, and Paul tells them in Titus to be different, practice goodness. It’s changed people that change a community, we must be different to make a difference.
Jesus puts it plainly in Luke 6:32-42 Love your enemies. As we are loved by Christ, we love others, even our enemies and the unlovable. Our love for Christ and his love for us keeps sin out and we act out of love for Christ and in turn take that love to our communities. Love is the soil; truth is the seed (Ps Alex Lee). You can’t sow truth without love.
We may look the same as everyone else, but we are different. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 states that the weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world: we love where others hate, we have peace where others are anxious, we forgive where others hold grudges. We “do good” where others are liars and evil brutes (Crete / book of Titus) We have the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing, life and joy.
The stories of Acts 16-28 show us how we can be ministers wherever we go: praise parties while in prison, loving people that others hate– wherever you are planted make a difference.
The scriptures are full of exhortations to be and live differently:
John 17:15-19 Jesus prays to the Father about his disciples being in the world but not of it
Romans 12:2 Paul encourages us to not be conformed to the world (values, spirit, or ideology) but be transformed by the renewing of our minds
Colossians 1:13 Even though we live physically in the world we belong to another kingdom
1 Peter 2:9-12 We are a chosen people, called out of darkness, therefore live such good lives people will glorify God
2 Peter 1:4 Its God’s divine nature growing in us that separates us from the world’s corruption…not our own moral goodness or power
Phil 2:14-15 When we are different (in a kingdom way) we can’t help but shine
Phil 3:20-21 Our true home and citizenship is in heaven
2Co 6:14-16 We are called to live in the world and be a kingdom influence but not be ‘yoked’ to it. Our fellowship is with Christ and his church not the world.
Connect Group Discussion Questions:
GATHER: (ensure that these questions centre around community)
- What are some of the things people say about “C3 people”? What would you like them to say?
- How does the way the church does things differ from the way society does them?
GROW: (ensure that these questions prompt discussion on personal growth and maturity)
- How confident are you in explaining why you belong to Christ and why everyone is welcome and should consider joining us? Is there a next step you can take to grow stronger in this area? (Remembering that the church leadership equip us to go and do ministry ourselves)
- What are the ways you can stay strong in Christ and stand out (in a good way!) when you are surrounded by non-believers? What behaviours are you tempted with to fit in? Pray for each other and offer to make plans to hold each other accountable in these situations.
GO: (ensure that these questions prompt discussion on going and spreading the good news)
- The believers in Acts did not stay in their “Christian bubble” but went confidently out into the world. What does the world look like for you? Who do you interact with?
- Take a moment to pray for our fellow believers who are facing persecution out there in the world. Acts 4:29-30 is a good prayer to start with.
- Watch J.John’s video about how to explain your job/ministry to strangers for ideas.