SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS:
1. Why do you think Jesus teaches so much about humility and thinking of others? Is this something you find easy or difficult? Why?
2. Are you regularly proximate to people you’re not gaining any social capital from? (influence, followers, clout)
3. What ways as a youth ministry could we “seek the peace and prosperity” of Edmonton?
4. How as an individual can you bless your neighbours, your street, your city?
ABOUT US SERIES
WHAT’S THE POINT?
We are an Edmonton based youth ministry, across three campuses, and are called to love our city!WORD UP
7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: 8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! 10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: 2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
CONTEXT OF SCRIPTURE
Jesus is giving a lesson on humility. When people would be invited for a meal there would be a seating chart from most important guests to least important. Your seat at the table depended on your wealth, stature, and influence. Everyone was eyeing that top seat, to be seen by many as influential and important, but Jesus asks, “What happens if someone more important walks in the room? You would be demoted from your seat, which would be embarrassing. Rather, choose humility and consider yourself no better than anyone else.
Jesus is really challenging the idea of celebrity. The idea that you think of yourself better because of what you have or because of who you are. Jesus turns the whole idea on its head by saying you should surround yourself with people who cannot help you climb the social ladder, who cannot repay, who do not add extra merit to your name. The life of humility is greater, and God will reward the humble.
Jeremiah and Ezra
These two passage show what happens when we follow God’s command to love where we live and bless those around us. God’s people were in exile in Babylon. They didn’t have the temple, they didn’t have home comforts, life was hard and they felt displaced. Jeremiah 29 has the classic verse, verse 11. That God has plans to prosper and not to harm, to give us a hope and a future. But for God’s people this plan took 70 years to come to fruition. In the meantime he commanded his people to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city,” which included gardening, building homes, marriage, praying for the city and blessing their neighbours. They did this for 70 years before God made a way for them to return to their homeland Jerusalem.
The story of Ezra maps the beginning of that journey back home, and what does the Bible tell us that is so amazing?!? “All their neighbours assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts!” Their journey home was blessed and funded by the neighbours who they had been blessing and loving for 70 years!
Something incredible happens when we love those in our city, when we choose humility, when we think of the other, when our relationships are not all about increasing our social capital.
1. Share an example of where you have blessed Edmonton/neighbours/those who don’t know Jesus?
WHY DO I CARE?
God has orchestrated that you and I live where we do at this exact moment in time. There is a reason why you live on your street, in your neighbourhood, in Edmonton. And he wants you to be the change that many need. As a youth ministry we are called to love and serve the students of Edmonton, many of whom are in situations where we as a youth ministry can support, bless and love.
The call to the Jesus life is to love our neighbour and to care for others.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
WHAT DO I DO?
1. Are you regularly proximate to people you’re not gaining social capital from?
The temptation for us is to surround ourselves with people who can advance our own influence. It’s often how we choose friends, why we do what we do, why we say what we say.
But Jesus calls us to invite people into our lives who society would say adds no influence or social capital. We were never designed to make ourselves famous but to make Jesus famous.
2. How do you bless your neighbours, your street, Edmonton?
What are some of the ways that individually and as a community we can bless Edmonton? How do we do what the Israelites did and “seek the peace and prosperity of the city”?
As a youth ministry, we are going to be more intentional weekly, monthly and yearly in blessing our city, blessing our friends, blessing our neighbours because Jesus wants us to. But this can’t be simply a command, individually we all have to buy in, we all have to play our part.