Discussion Questions for Sermon Series Christian Week 2: Quitters
Author Anne Rice (Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession) has a powerful personal story about her relationship with Jesus. She grew up in the church, but left it as a young adult. In her fifties, she rejected her decades-long atheism and returned to church...for ten years. And then she made this announcement on her Facebook page:
Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.
Rice’s statement stirred controversy, but let’s be honest: the idea that Christians can be quarrelsome, hostile, and disputatious isn’t exactly surprising.
How is it that people like Anne Rice—people devoted to Jesus—sometimes feel driven from Christianity? Why are there Christians on all sides of cultural and political issues, arguing with non-believers and fellow
Christians alike? Is this really what Jesus intended for his disciples?
1 John 4:7–11
1. What is your reaction to Anne Rice’s “quitting” Christianity? Can you relate to what she wrote about her decision? Does it offend you in any way? Explain.
2. Think about the stories of tragedy and suffering we see in the media each day. Is it difficult to believe that love can make a difference in the face of great hardship? Why or why not?
3. Read 1 John 4:8. What does “God is love” mean? Talk about the connection between loving others and knowing God. How does it challenge your own assumptions about what it means to be a Christian?
4. Have you ever tried to demonstrate love to someone with whom you disagreed? How did you manage the tension between loving and defending your opinion? What happened?
5. Last week we challenged you to love someone in your sphere of influence who is difficult to love. What did you do? How did the person respond?
Jesus would say we give up our leverage in culture when we focus on anything but love. If we loved like he calls us to love, people wouldn’t feel condemned by Christians or coerced to join the faith. In fact, they’d feel drawn to the church.
What does love look like in the marketplace? In our families? In our marriages? In our friendships? If we don’t love well, it doesn’t really matter what else we do. So try it. Focus on it. Meditate on it. This week, practice loving the people around you. Remember: we owe it to God to love others.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10