By Cameron Silsbee and Levi Warren
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 Ephesians 3v16-19 over the group and then pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Take a few minutes to discuss anything noteworthy from last week’s Practice.
Read this overview
When we talk about belief, we often consider it to be a purely mental exercise in our society. Do we intellectually accept the existence of God, for instance? Do we think that God is good, loving, or trustworthy? Sometimes we say we believe certain things but don’t consider how our belief should move beyond our intellect into the practical outworking of our lives. Shouldn’t what we say we believe dictate what we actually do?
The reality is that our actions say a lot about our deepest beliefs. Every person has things or behaviors they’ve turned to and trusted when life has gotten difficult or mundane. We often call these things trust structures. Author Robert Mulholland defines trust structures as “deep seated attitudes and inner orientations of our being out of which our behavior patterns flow… those deep inner postures of our being that do not rely on God but on self for our well-being.” When push comes to shove, our trust structures show us what we truly believe at a deep level.
When a person becomes a follower of Jesus, they take on a new trust structure. When life gets difficult, and we face crises, or when things just feel dull and mundane, instead of turning to our old behaviors and ways of life, Jesus wants us to come to him. In Jesus, we find healing, forgiveness, freedom from our sins, and a call to faithfulness even in the face of hard times.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). God wants to address our beliefs and trust structures, leading us into a deeper belief and trust in him.
In Ephesians 4v22-24, Paul writes:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
- In what seasons of life or situations do you tend to turn to trust structures other than Jesus? If you’re able and it’s appropriate, share a specific example.
- What trust structure(s) do you tend to return to instead of Jesus? (e.g., money, individualism, entertainment, political ideology, idealism/pessimism/pragmatism, etc.)
- Do you feel Jesus has spoken something particular about your trust structure(s)? If so, what do you think he has said? If not, why do you think that is?
Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:
For this week’s Practice, set aside at least 20 minutes to read and pray through John 21v1-19. Use these steps to guide your time (it may be helpful to journal through this exercise as well):
- Pray and ask God’s Spirit to speak to you. If there’s anything on your mind that keeps pulling your attention away from this exercise, spend a moment acknowledging the thing(s) distracting you to Jesus. Ask him to help you focus your mind the best you can. (If your mind is struggling with distraction, gently refocus your attention on the exercise at hand as many times as needed – there’s no need to be frustrated or discouraged by it. If it works best, you can always try this exercise again at a different time when your mind might be better focused.)
- Slowly read through John 21v1-19. Allow yourself to picture the scene in your mind’s eye as you read it.
- Once you’ve finished reading, bring to your mind your trust structure(s) and some of the failures and betrayals of Jesus that you have committed because of them. It could be helpful as you do this to picture yourself in your mind’s eye on the beach with Jesus, interacting with him.
- Allow your mind to linger on the question of Jesus to Simon about his trust structures (his old way of life as a fisherman), “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these [his fish]?” Hear that question from Jesus for yourself. What would you answer Jesus? Ask Jesus to respond to your answer and spend a few moments listening and/or picturing yourself interacting with Jesus on the beach. What or how does Jesus respond to you?
- Reread John 21v15-17. What stands out to you from this text, and how does it speak to your situation/season of life and your trust structures?
- In verses 18 and 19, Jesus anticipates that Peter will be led “where you do not want to go.” Express to Jesus any anxiety, fear, dread, etc., that you may be experiencing about your future. What does it look like for you in the present to respond with obedience to Jesus’s command to Peter, “Follow me!”?
- End your time by thanking Jesus for his presence with you.
Be prepared to discuss how your time with this Practice went next week with your group.