FRANKLIN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
82 West Central Street, PO Box 313 Franklin MA 02038 . www.franklinumc.org . 508-528-1092 . firstname.lastname@example.org . email@example.com
1 John 4:7-12
Common English Bible
7 Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. 8 The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.
11 Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us.
A relationship with God will not leave us unchanged. As it says in 1 John, it is those who know God that love one another, and only those who love can be said to know God and be born of God. So we are not only changed by entering into this relationship, we are changed in a particular way: we begin to love God and others as we have been loved by God.
There are two important ways a relationship with God is not like a relationship with another person. The first is that God is both our Creator and Redeemer, and as such is actively seeking to transform our lives so that they once again reflect the image of God in which we were created. The second is that a fried is physically present, while God’s presence is not physical. Both of these aspects of a relationship with God—the power to live a new life and the presence of God in our lives—is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The problem with a presence that is not physical is that it makes it hard to sustain a relationship. This is why God has promised to be especially present through certain practices of worship and service called means of grace. It is in and through these very particular activities that we especially experience the presence of God. [The means of grace are a way for us to experience God’s presence and learn to love and be loved both by God and our neighbors.]
How would you compare knowing about God with knowing God? How are each important to the Christian life?*
Where have you experienced God’s presence?
The means of grace include reading, meditating, and studying scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly sharing in the sacraments (communion and baptism), Christian conferencing, Bible Study, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, and feeding the hungry (plus a number of other practices known as works of piety and works of mercy). Do you experience God in through these means?
Do you feel close to God? How often do you intentionally practice the means of grace?
Questions and paragraphs marked with an asterisk (*) are quoted from Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006) by Henry H. Knight III and F. Douglas Powe, Jr.