It’s hard to imagine what our world would have been like had not sin intruded. The beauty of nature, even after millennia, still testifies to the majesty and power and goodness of God. Our sin-darkened minds can barely grasp what humanity and human relations would have been like had our world not fallen. One thing we can be sure of is that the class distinctions, prejudices, and cultural and ethnic boundaries that impact every society and culture would not exist.
Study John 4:5-32, and then answer the following questions.
What social conventions did Jesus break, and why? What should this tell us about social conventions and the way in which they should be regarded when they interfere with witnessing? What social conventions might be hindering your witness to others?
In what way did Jesus confront the woman about her sinful life? What lessons could we take from His approach?
What does this story reveal about the prejudices [...]
Read Mark 5:1-20. Compare this man’s situation with the plight of modern homeless people. Compare his description with that of mentally ill patients. What similarities and differences exist? How does modern society treat people who suffer from mental illness? What explains Christ’s admonition to publicize the event, though He consistently counsels others to maintain secrecy?
From the perspective of many of us today, it’s hard to imagine someone in such a horrific state, living in [...]
Read John 8:1-11. What does this text teach us about Jesus and social outcasts?
Having refreshed Himself spiritually at His Mount of Olives retreat, Jesus returned to the temple. Crowds gathered. While Christ taught, the Pharisees dragged an adulterous woman before Him. They questioned Jesus regarding Moses’ legislation concerning adultery, which prescribed execution. Jesus recognized that this questioning was insincere. The purpose was entrapment, not truth-seeking. Capital (death penalty) jurisdiction had been withdrawn from Jewish [...]
Societies establish hierarchies. Wealthy or well-educated people usually acquire the highest positions.
Good moral citizens, the ordinary people, normally occupy the middle rungs on the social ladder. That leaves the bottom dwellers, those such as prostitutes, substance abusers, criminals, the homeless, and others. During Christ’s time, that list also included lepers and tax collectors.
Read Matthew 21:28-32 and Luke 15:1-10. What do these passages teach regarding Christ’s attitude toward social outcasts?
What happened that propelled the social [...]
Read for This Week’s Study: Matt. 21:28-32, John 8:1-11, Mark 5:1-20, John 4:5-32, Matt. 9:9-13.
Memory Text: The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? (John 4:28-30, NKJV).
A young woman-having come from an unbelievably sad and horrible background (which included two out-of-wedlock children by the time she was fifteen years old) sat in prison, [...]
Megy groaned as another contraction tore through her body. She had been in labor for18 hours, and her baby hadn’t arrived yet. Four men carried Megy on a stretcher toward the river several miles away, where they hoped to meet a public vehicle that could take Megy to the government clinic.
Storm clouds gathered on the horizon and threatened heavy rain. If the men couldn’t reach the river before the rains swelled it, they couldn’t cross. Megy’s life and the life [...]
Further Study: Read Ellen G. White, The Lifework, pp. 269, 270, in Education; and Laboring for the Middle Class, pp. 564-566, in Evangelism.
In this closing work of the gospel there is a vast field to be occupied; and, more than ever before, the work is to enlist helpers from the common people. Both the youth and those older in years will be called from the field, from the vineyard, and from the workshop, and sent forth by the Master to [...]
Perhaps the most socially attractive feature of primitive Christianity was the absence of class distinctions. Dividing walls had crumbled beneath the gospel’s weight. The common person triumphed through Christ. Christ transformed the ordinary into the extraordinary. Carpenters, tax collectors, stonecutters, queens, domestic servants, priests, Greeks, Romans, men, women, wealthy, and the destitute all became equals within Christ’s kingdom of grace. In reality, the Christian community was to be a classless society.
What do each of [...]