A journey through time
“Would you look at that? A perfect illustration of the god particle.” Fred held up the second week’s lesson of the Bible Study Guide and pointed to the picture of two hands reaching for each other.
“Whatever are you talking about?” Sherry said, her eyebrows lifting toward her hairline. “Whatever in the world does the god particle have to do with the lesson this week?”
Fred folded back the pages so the illustration could be clearly seen. He tapped on the page. “See those two hands?” he said. “One is God’s. One is a child of God’s. What happens if God’s hand touches the hand of any of us?”
“We have new life. We are new people.”
“Sherry, do you have any idea how much energy it takes to turn you and me into followers of God? But to the God particle, it doesn’t matter because it always generates more energy than it consumes. Millions of times more.”
“And it’s good energy. Fred, do you believe the god particle explains the beginning of life?”
“Scientists believe it’s the beginning of matter, and since we believe that matter is the source of energy—”
“—But what do you believe about the god particle?”
“I don’t have a god particle belief, Sherry. All I know is God is such an abundance of energy—both physical and spiritual—that it humbles any fabulous accomplishments of a god particle.”
[Thought Questions for Preserving Relationships July 11, 2012]
1. The Setting. Imagine being a preacher like Paul and experiencing a stunning success with an evangelistic series. Do you think Paul was surprised? Did he have any reason to expect being rejected in Thessalonica? Do you think he made friends and established long-term relationships with people during this short campaign? After being so thrilled to present the gospel to the people, how do you think Paul felt when some of the local leaders opposed him with such vigor?
2. Opposition. Why are new ideas so attractive? What happens when people hear about ? Why did Christ’s witness shared in Thessalonica by Paul make the Roman leaders so angry at him? Is jealousy always the base for war and international conflict? Have you ever observed people with ideas struggle within the church today? Are idea people dangerous? Why do you think the city council decided to take money to secure the promise of calm ater Paul and his Christian friends left the city?
3. At Berea. Was Paul totally pleased by the behavior of fellow Christians in Thessalonica after he left them? Why or why not? Do we ever have busybodies in our church today? What is the difference betweeen a busy body and a industrious person who works tirelessly? Do you like new ideas? When a child pipes up with the words, “I have an idea!” what is the usual response? The Christians in Berea had an interesting way of dealing with ideas. What was it? Have you ever written down the key points and supporting Bible texts from a sermon and studied them later? Would you tell the preacher that you think he or she is wrong after your Bible study? Why or why not?
4. Athens. Are the opening steps Paul took in reaching the people of Athenians good examples for us to follow today? Why should we work first to establish common ground? How is that done? Was Paul’s tact and careful speaking forth of Christian beliefs about Creation an ice-breaker or an ice berg? Do you ever talk about Creation to people who do not believe as you do? Why or why not? Do you think Paul’s experience in Athens should encourage us today in 2012 to establish common ground and focus on shared principles and beliefs? Do we ever carry out this plan in our local communities?
5. Corinth. Did Paul continue to follow his search for common ground when he went to Corinth to preach and make friends? Why or Why not? What obvious change did Paul make in the way he presented the gospel in Corinth? Are we willing to consider what we’re doing to witness to others and turn to other ways if results are not satisfactory? Does the Adventist church have too few or too many different ways to reach the secular segments of society? What are you doing to improve the situation untl we have many more outside our church who are interestd about coming in?
6. Paul Loved Them. Like those who listened to Paul, do you enjoy hearing calls for repentance and acceptance of God’s ways? Or would you rather see our evangelists tone things down and just work on being friendly? How would Paul’s nostalgia for the folks he left behind in Thessalonica have been expressed if he’d had email and the Web and long-distance telephone to express himself? Why do you think Paul felt so strongly about the Christians in Thessalonica? If he loved them so much, why didn’t he settle down and stay with them?
7. Increase by 100%. What do you think of the quote in the lesson that we could double our membership simply by being kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful? What if we had superior electronics? The best films? Speakers who knew how to make the rafters ring? Wouldn’t those methods work better than just being kind? Should we work harder teaching our members how to show themselves kind and courteous and tenderhearted to those who do not bother with studying the Bible?