1.What steps need to be taken to teach people that God has limits to His patience? Why is the church sometimes negligent in doing so?
The pendulous of the church’s message seems to have swung back and forth between extremes throughout history. Sometimes we see an emphasis on wrath and holiness to the exclusion of His love. Sometimes it’s the other way. In an age in which bumper stickers proclaim God is Love and God Loves You, there is the possibility that believers and nonbelievers alike will assume that God will always be patient and fore bearing.
The church is to have a balanced message. God does indeed love everyone; He is not willing for any to perish. But God also says He cannot tolerate sin. The church can show that God’s judgment sometimes comes quickly (Genesis 3; Acts 5:1-11). At other times judgment follows many warnings (the prophets scorned both the northern and southern kingdoms for decades). A review of God’s judgment on the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 can be helpful here. See commentaries that discuss what eventually happened to fulfill God’s warnings to those churches or their cities.
2.Many attend church looking for “what the church can do for me.” What steps can your church take to teach individuals about the importance and priority of worship?
“Today’s church service did nothing for me” is the uncomfortable refrain of some. If all worshipers would arrive having prepared themselves to give genuine honor to God, then they would depart having received something very special. Think about it: churches don’t really teach many classes on how or why to worship! Such instruction could undoubtedly include the idea of leaving the consumer mentality at home. The church can also stress that meaningful worship is not limited to the confines of a specific building. A life of worship honors God seven days a week. This happens through our devotional and prayer lives, by how we live, and by how eve treat others.
3. People see corrupt behavior from business or political leaders, yet may feel powerless to do anything. How can the church encourage Christians not to settle for the status quo?
Prayer comes first. The church then can encourage Christians to be informed, speak out, and vote. Christians can learn how to collect evidence to be used against sinful officials, how to involve other government officials to bring about change, and how to organize citizens to insist unjust treatment of all people, especially the poor. At least two cautions are in order. First, working for social justice should never be allowed to supplant fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, 20). Second, preachers should be extremely careful about giving the appearance of endorsing political candidates or political parties from the pulpit while in the process of addressing social concerns.
4.Suppose you were in charge of producing 3videos, of 20 minutes each, designed to instruct the young people of your church how they can live out the three principles in Micah 6:8. What would you include in each video to illustrate how a Christian is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Encourage your students to be specific about appropriate ways to live out these principles. Challenge your students to answer not only what but why. Ask class members which action steps each will incorporate into his or her life during the coming week.
5.What parallels, if any, are there between how the people responded to God in the text and how young people today respond to parental authority? If you see a problem, what solutions can you offer?
Some of today’s young people are well behaved in the presence of their parents but live rebellious lives when they are away from the eyes of adults. Some young people will give all the right answers in a church youth meeting yet disobey those same precepts when with their peers later on.
The church’s challenge is to demonstrate how obedience honors God, whose very nature includes holiness and righteousness. The church can be careful not to give lists of rules without also passing along knowledge of the one who breathed the rules into existence (2 Timothy 3:16).