April 10 - 16
Our Social Nature
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:18-22; Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 2:51, 52; John 2:1-12; Eph. 3:14, 15.
MEMORY TEXT: "A man who has friends must himself be friendly" (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: What can we learn about our social nature from the interrelationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
GOD'S IMAGE IN PLURALITY. The word Our in Genesis 1:26 reveals that the Deity possesses plurality, while the word His in verse 27 reveals that the plurality of God does not cancel out the Godhead's unity. God is triune, three Persons, yet so united they are One.
This image of God in humanity does not mean that the human race is simply "a collection of individuals, all possessing their own separate image. . . . The interrelationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit as Three-Persons-in-One suggests that the image of God and therefore the nature of humanity is to be found in the constitution of human beings as social beings.... To be human is to be-in-relation."New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology, David J. Atkinson and David F. Fields, eds. (Downer's Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1995), p. 25.
As you study this week's lesson, always keep in mind that as a Christian, you are part of a great worldwide family. Because of the Father's love for us, we are all sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ (1 John 3:1).
List the disadvantages of being alone and the advantages of having a friend. Eccles. 4:7-12.
The expression "It is not good that man should be alone" (Gen. 2:18) included all human beings, not just Adam. While the context of Genesis 2:18 is Creation week and the relationship of a man and a woman as husband and wife, the principle found in this verse applies to all humans, regardless of their status.
God did not create us to be alone and certainly not to ever feel lonely. He created us for companionship either through the marriage relationship, family, friendships, or all three.
A number of factors contribute to loneliness in modem society. Secularism, individuality, achievement, acquisitions, and appearance are some of the main culprits. Secularism cuts people off from any sense of ultimate purpose and relationship with God.
On the other hand, a number of factors contribute to cutting us off from one another. These factors include our attempts at individualism, achievements, acquiring possessions, and maintaining appearances; they cut us off from meaningful relationships with each other. Divorce, relocation, retirement, and death are other common causes of loneliness. (See Encyclopedia of Psychology, David G. Benner, ed. [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1985], p. 656.)
Explain Jesus' answer to loneliness found in John 8:29. What happened to Him on Calvary? Matt. 27:46.
In Gethsemane, when the guilt of the world's sin was placed upon Jesus, He began to fear that He would be cut off from His Father's love forever. On Calvary, He experienced what He feared and cried out, "My God, why have you forsaken Me?" It was not the spear thrust in His side nor the cruelty of the cross that caused His death. He died of a broken heart when His Father separated Himself from His Son. The Son of God was slain by the sin of the world and in this sense tasted the second death for all who would accept Him as their wonderful Saviour and Lord.
What other characteristics about modern life have the tendency to make us lonely? How does knowing that Christ experienced the ultimate in loneliness help to ease any loneliness you might be feeling now?
Describe what the words leave and cleave mean in Genesis 2:24.
"Adam knows that this creature, whom God has shaped with his assistance, out of his flesh, is unique, but he sees this action of his upon the other entirely as a gift of God. The fact that Eve derives from him is in Adam's eyes not a cause for glorification but for special gratitude. He does not put forward any claim for himself. he knows that he is connected in a completely new way to this Eve, who derives her existence from him. It is best to describe this unity by saying that now he belongs to her because she belongs to him. They are no longer without one another; they are one and yet two."Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall, (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1959), p. 60.
Explain the value a husband should place on his wife. Eph. 5:25-33.
"The marriage relationship is now set out as being a reflection of the relationship between Christ and his church. This is to raise it to an unimaginably lofty level. In 1 Corinthians 11:12 Paul had already marked out a hierarchy in which God is seen as the head of Christ, Christ as the head of man, and the man as the head of the woman. Here he looks at it from another angle. If the head of the woman is the man and the head of the church is Christ (Eph. 1:22; 4:12, 16), then it is permissible to draw an analogy between the wife's relationship to her husband and the church's relationship to Christ. Marriage is thus interpreted in the sublimest terms. It is compared with the marriage of the Lamb to his bride."The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 11, p. 75.
Because God meant for Adam and Eve to complement one another, both found wholeness in their relationship. It is a miracle that two separate wills should achieve such unity. Because each person feels that life seems valueless without the other, both are eager to make sacrifices for one another.
Your young son or daughter is contemplating marriage to a special friend. Based on today's lesson, what advice would you give?
|One plus one, according to the rules of simple addition, equals two. But when a man and a woman are united by God in marriage, how does the equation of two people joined together add up to one, as well as two? Explain your answer based on God's creation of Adam and Eve.|
Explain why God refused to accept the offerings of His people. Mal. 2:10-17.
God had long borne with Israel's complaining and discontent. Divine patience bad reached an end. The prosperity and glory the people had hoped would come had not arrived. Thus they questioned the justice and holiness of God, even the certainty of His future judgment. They made it appear they were good. They believed that because to a certain degree they prospered, God approved of them. They did not deny their faith or turn against God. But they doubted He was really concerned with their character.
Why did God allow Moses to grant divorce when it is so disruptive to the human spirit, the family, and the community? Matt. 19:7, 8.
Before God gave them the law regarding divorce (Deut. 24:1-4), the Israelites did what was common in the ancient world. They divorced their wives simply by ordering them out of the house. Any woman unattached to either her father or husband was considered a disgrace and had to fend for herself in an unsympathetic society. Hoping to improve things, God commanded that a woman be given a certificate identifying her as divorced so she might legally and properly become the wife of another without any stigma. Thus the law was not intended to sanction divorce but to modify a harmful custom with a view to protecting a woman from a capricious husband. (See SDA Bible Dictionary, p. 275.)
God never approved of the practice of divorce or of polygamy but worked with His people to gradually wean them away from such practices. The laws He gave Moses were designed not to immediately abolish polygamy but to strongly discourage it (Lev. 18:18; Deut. 17:17). Other laws He gave restricted divorce (Deut. 22:19, 29; 24:1) and elevated the standard of married life (Exod. 20:14, 17; Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). Christ made it clear that provisions for a plurality of wives and divorce were not ideal and certainly not part of God's plan. As with other instructions God has given us, He is gently leading us toward the Eden ideal. (See SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1002.)
|What can we do as Seventh-day Adventists to help prevent divorce and to assist in alleviating the hurt, pain, and loneliness that results when it does occur?|
Why did John write his epistle? And what does he mean by having fellowship? 1 John 1:1-3.
The Greek word for fellowship means "sharing a common life," a "partnership," "communion," "participation," etc. Ancient literature speaks about it as joint owners of a piece of property or shareholders in a common enterprise. In the New Testament, it means (1) sharing in a supernatural life, a born-again life with other believers, and (2) a relationship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Christian fellowship has both a vertical and a horizontal dimension-fellowship with God (vertical) and with others (horizontal). This means that we are a community of believers and that as such we are bearers of the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ. We are part of the fellowship as soon as the Father grants us the gift of the Holy Spirit. (See The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 12, p. 307.) This is the personal, intimate, and invigorating fellowship John wishes all believers to have. It is the same kind of fellowship that he had with Jesus here on earth.
What principles regarding fellowship can you glean from Acts 2:40-47 and 4:32-35? How can you put these principles to work where you live? What was the result of the outworking of these principles? Acts 2:43, 47; 4:33.
"Those who truly love God ... will find that Christian society and conversation is food to the soul, that in the society of those who love God they breathe in the atmosphere of heaven. Christians will exercise love and sympathy one for another. The encouragement given one to another, the esteem manifested one for another, the helps, the instruction, the reproofs, warnings, the Christian counsel that should be found among the followers of Christ will further them in the spiritual life; for Christian fellowship is according to God's plan."My Life Today, p. 216.
In what sense are you and your fellow Christians shareholders in a common enterprise?
|Based on John's definition of fellowship, how would you rate your fellowship with God? With others? If neither is what it should be, what can you do to make it better"?|
Contrast the attitude of the priest and the Levite with that of the Samaritan. Luke 10:30-35.
The man who was robbed and beaten was a Jew who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. The Samaritan knew that if he had been the victim and a Jew was passing by, he could expect no mercy. At considerable risk to himself, he stopped to help the Jew. The attitude of the priest and Levite toward one of their own people stands in sharp contrast to this Samaritan.
Read John 4:9, 8:48, and Luke 9:51-56. The compassion and mercy the kind Samaritan showed toward someone from another race is all the more remarkable considering the hatred that existed on both sides toward each other. In those days, to be called a Samaritan was like being called a devil.
Compare the parable of the good Samaritan with the parable of the sheep and the goats. Describe their similarities and differences. Matt. 25:31-46.
On the Mt. of Olives, Christ gave His disciples a picture of the great judgment day. "And He represented its decision as turning upon one point. When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and suffering....
"Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their lives.... Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God."The Desire of ages, pp. 637, 638.
|What are some of the needs your fellow human beings have that you can supply? Is it only food, shelter, and clothing? Or is it also acceptance, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of appreciation? How are you supplying these needs to your family, neighbors, and fellow citizens in general?|
FURTHER STUDY: Compare Zechariah 7:8-14 with Matthew 25:31-46. Read The Adventist Home, "Our Social Needs," pp. 455-458.
"Among all the creatures that God had made on the earth, there was not one equal to man. And 'God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him' (Genesis 2:18). Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be a social being. Without companionship, the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of the same nature to love and to be loved."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46.
SUMMARY: Being created in the image of God means we are social beings. Fellowship with God and one another helps us to enjoy life and share the love of Christ with those who need it most.
Lixberth Ruiz Adames
Lixbert Ruiz had taught for years, but now he was returning to school to study theology. As he packed his bags for the trip to the Adventist university in Medellin, the telephone rang. It was the president of the local conference.
"We need someone to go to La Cumbre district to plant a church. Would you consider this call?" Before he hung up, Ruiz accepted the call.
The Ruiz family moved to La Cumbre. Most of the 10,000 people who live in the region farm small plots of land or work the villas of landowners who live in the city.
Ruiz met 75-year-old Jaime Hincapie (HAI-meh een-CAH-peh), a cobbler who lives in the center of town. The old man surprised Ruiz. "I have been expecting you. My God has sent you here for a great purpose."
Hincapie is a respected leader of the community. Even though his eyesight is failing, he faithfully reads the Bible. He accepted the "Faith of Jesus" bible lessons that Ruiz offered him, studying two or three lessons a week. When he saw the Bible study on the Sabbath, he went into his house and returned with an old Voice of Prophecy certificate. "I know that the Sabbath is the true day of rest!"
Through Hincapie, Ruiz met many citizens of La Cumbre. He offered them the Bible study guides and a copy of El Centinela magazine. Within three months 110 people were studying the Bible course. A group of Adventists from Cali came on Sabbaths to help Ruiz study with the Bible students, and within a few months 75 had completed the Bible course.
At a special ceremony where the Bible students received their certificates, a call to follow Jesus in baptism brought positive responses from many of the students. Jaime Hincapie wants to be the first to be baptized. He has offered his small home and property in the center of town for a church.
Professor Ruiz thinks it was worth changing his study plans in order' to share the gospel with people who were waiting in La Cumbre. He challenges you: "Is God calling you to change your plans so that others can hear God's good news?"
Lixberth Ruiz Adaines taught primary and secondary school for 25 years. Today he is a lay worker in Colombia.
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