By Cameron Silsbee and Ariel Villaseñor
Begin with prayer
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other. Have one person read James 1v22-25 over the group and then pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Read this overview
Jesus was a provocateur, intentionally using cognitive dissonance, tension, and stark imagery to provoke a reaction in his disciples and the crowds who would come to listen to him. It’s part of the complexity of who Jesus was; he failed to neatly fit the paradigm of either the ever-smiling, progressive guru or the fiery, furious moral authority. His teaching in John 15v1-8 would frustrate both paradigms that try to lay claim to Jesus.
With his impending death hanging in the air, Jesus weaves together encouragement and warning to his disciples. Jesus’s assurances of connection with him are balanced with the repeated word “if.” Our actions, choices, and the totality of our lives matter to Jesus and have lasting consequences – for better or worse. There is no compulsion to earn this connection with Jesus by what we do. Instead, Jesus commands us to remain in him, which should provoke the question, “Am I?”
Talk through the following discussion questions:
- What stood out to you about the teaching on Sunday? Was there anything challenging, encouraging, or confusing to you?
- When you think about your responsibility to remain in Jesus, what word(s) come to mind (e.g. secure, confident, uneasy, grateful, worried, angry, uncertain, etc.)?
Do this Practice right now as a Community:
As a group, read and pray through John 15v1-8. Have one person volunteer to read the passage out loud.
- To begin, have one person pray and ask the Spirit to speak through the text.
- Read out loud, slowly through John 15v1-8. It’s important not to rush it. As it’s being read, pay attention to anything that catches your attention, a word, a phrase, an idea, or how something in the text seems to speak to your life.
- Sit quietly for a couple of minutes after the text has been read. Think about all the spaces and commitments in your life (Relationships, home, neighborhood, workplace, school, etc.). Ask yourself these questions:
- What difference do I see remaining “in Jesus” make in these spaces? What does that look like in the day-to-day?
- What does or would “bearing fruit” look like in these spaces? How can I bear fruit in these spaces?
- After a couple of minutes, read out loud through John 15v1-8 slowly once again. As it’s being read, notice what stands out to you with the previous questions in mind.
- To end, share with the group one or two things that seemed meaningful to you during this reading. What did your mind gravitate towards?
Next week, make some time to follow up on this Practice as a group. Share anything noteworthy or significant that you noticed, experienced, or felt Jesus was speaking to you from this Practice.