* The new Discipleship Pathway layout flipped Modules 2 & 5;
Module 5 is now Guidance and Module 2 is now Confession. If you were using the old version, skip back to module 2 to complete Confession and then continue on from Module 6!
Discipleship : Meeting 4
Life is hard. That is why we need spiritual friends in Christian community to guide us in what God may be up to. Take time to discuss the questions below.
What part of the essay, "Friendship is Discipleship" stuck with you the most?
How do you feel about friendship being considered a “spiritual discipline?” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
“You are who you’re with.” Have you ever noticed how you are the product of your friendships? These could be small things like common phrases you say, or major things like a career choice or habit. What parts of your life have been formed, shaped, or influenced by your friends?
“We become Christlike when we’re with Christlike friends.” How could you see that being true? What are some activities we can participate in to be influenced by our friends’ Christlikeness?
Have you ever felt lonely or left out when you attended a church? Talk about that experience.
Many people today embrace a “do it yourself” Christianity. They could pray by themselves, study the Bible by themselves, and watch an online church service by themselves, all without being connected to a local church or a smaller group of fellow Christians. Why do you think people try to do the Christian life alone?
How could a community of spiritual friends serve as a source of guidance for our lives to discern God’s voice and will? Can you think of an example?
Take a pulse check on your current community involvement at your local church. Do you feel like you have a solid community of spiritual friends? Or would you like to get involved at a deeper level and discover community?
Brainstorm with your disciple on what finding community at your local church could look like if this is something you’re seeking. Are there small groups you can join? A serving team you can participate in on a weekend? Could you reach out to your pastor or a staff member about some options?
Or if you’re already involved in a community of spiritual friends, what could you be doing to get the most out of it?
After discussing some ideas, land on a plan for how you would like to discover community .
ASSIGNMENT: In preparation for the Module 6, Generosity, read the “Reading Parables” resource below.
Reading Parables: The Good Samaritan
By Megan Koch
Jesus often taught by telling stories called parables. The word “parable” means something like a puzzle or riddle. Parables also have a “metaphorical” quality to them, meaning that certain characters or events in the parable point us toward something in our world. However, we shouldn’t get too carried away with finding similarities between something in the parable and our world; it’s not supposed to be a perfect comparison. Rather, it points us to a broader truth, often in a very unexpected way.
Read the parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25–37.
As stated above, parables are metaphors: they symbolize something that relates to our world, But remember, not everything in the parable stands for something else (Bible readers in the past have gotten tripped up by trying to find hidden meanings that aren’t there. For example, the donkey in the parable we just read probably doesn’t represent anything else. It’s just a donkey). However, there are certain elements of the story that do point us to something in our own world. These are called points of reference.
A point of reference is something that the reader needs to understand in order to get the point of the parable. We have points of reference in jokes, too. For example:
Q: How did Harry Potter get to the bottom of the hill?
A: By walking. JK, Rowling!
What are the points of reference in this joke? In other words, what do we need to understand in order to get the joke? First, we need to know what Harry Potter is. A spaceman who hasn’t heard of Harry Potter books would immediately be at a disadvantage here. Second, we need to realize that the author of Harry Potter is J.K. Rowling. Finally, we need to understand the fact that “JK” is commonly used (especially in text messaging) to mean, “just kidding.” If the hearer understands all this, then they are prepared to understand all that’s going on in the joke, and hopefully get a laugh out of it!
Parables work the same way. We need to understand the points of reference. Here are some important ones for the parable of the Good Samaritan:
1. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was known for being a dangerous place to be, so it’s no
surprise someone would get mugged on that road.
2. Priests and Levites (Also known as “temple assistants” in the New Living Translation) were considered to be holy men for Jesus’ hearers. In other words, they were the ones who would be expected to do the right thing.
3. Samaritans were despised and considered religious heretics who profaned God by worshiping him improperly.
4. If the wounded man was nearly dead, then the Samaritan would risk being “ceremonially unclean” (see Numbers 19:11. This basically means he would’ve done something he wasn’t suppose to do, triggering a bunch of rules he’d have to follow to become “clean” again). This could help make sense of why the Priest and Levite avoided the wounded man, and makes it all the more courageous on the part
of the Samaritan.
5. When the Samaritan gives the innkeeper two coins (denarii) to care for the wounded man, it was a very generous amount—about two day’s wages!
In order to understand a parable, we must understand the points of reference as the original audience did. With the information above, we can almost re-write the parable for our culture in the United States. It could go something like this:
There was a homeless family on the side of the road, poor and worn out. A Catholic Priest came upon them, but he was in a hurry to get to mass, so he pretended not to notice. Next, a local Pastor came along, but he was late for a board meeting, so he switched lanes and kept driving. Finally, the leader of the local Atheism organization passed by. When he saw them, he pulled over, welcomed them into his car, and took them to a motel where he paid for a week’s stay. The next few days, he helped the father find a job and made sure they had everything they needed.
This modern retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan creates a similar response among us as the original story would have had among its original hearers: the people we identify most with don’t help, and the person we’d least expect to help does. This was to provoke a shocking response from the crowd: How could a Samaritan (or an Atheist) demonstrate loving one’s neighbor better than a devout Jew (or a Christian!)?
Jesus ends his parable with the command to “Go and do likewise:” To generously love those we’d least expect in ways that obtrude our normal day-to-day lives.
In Module 6, we’ll be learning to practice generosity. What radical lessons does this parable teach us about this topic?