Uncompromising Orthodoxy (Part Two): God
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, and then have somebody pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Spend a few minutes and go around the group asking how reading through the Apostles’ Creed went.
Read this overview
It’s one thing to say you believe something. Belief is how you think, but what you say you believe doesn’t necessarily inform what you do. Your life could be in congruence with what you say you believe, or there could be a disconnect between how you live and what you say you believe. This is muddled even more by living in a post-Christian culture where there are social advantages to claiming certain beliefs.
For the first three hundred years of the church, Christians were a persecuted minority. It cost disciples of Jesus something to follow obediently. Estimates range from tens of thousands to up to a million followers of Jesus were killed for their faith in the first three hundred years of the church. And while most Christians were not martyred, following Jesus cost all of them socially and economically.
Once Christianity was legalized in the Roman empire, it was safer for church leaders to gather together to wrestle through what exactly Christians believed and had sacrificed or been killed for believing for three hundred years. Far from being the creation of distant academics safe in their ivory towers, the Nicene Creed was written by survivors of Christian persecution in order to say with specificity what Christians believe. It had cost them dearly to believe and to live faithfully for Jesus.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
Have one person read aloud the Nicene Creed. Then discuss the questions that follow.
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
- As the Nicene Creed was read, what was your response to it? Does any part of it resonate with you? (e.g. did you feel disengaged from what was being said, were you surprised by something, was there a feeling of comfort, etc.)
- Can you recall a time that your faith in Jesus cost you something? Or a time when you had to painfully sacrifice something in order to obey his teachings? If not, why do you think that is?
- Is there anything about God that is particularly challenging to live as if it’s true? (e.g. God loves you, he cares about your life, he’s patient with your shortcomings, he cares about your holiness, etc.)
Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:
For this week’s Practice, set aside time two or three times to read through Exodus 34v5-7. The text is God’s self-revelation to Moses and is the text that is most referenced by the authors of the Scriptures. This is who God says he is.
In your time reading this week, invite the Spirit to speak to you and take enough time to read through the text a few times slowly. Take note of anything that resonates with you in the text. To end your time with the text, ask yourself these two questions:
Do my hopes about who God is and how he will act in my life reflect this text?
Is there any place in my life where I feel disappointed that God didn’t meet my expectations about how he would act?
Be ready to debrief next week how the reading went, and if anything, in particular, stood out to you as you asked yourself these two questions.