Series 19 Clothed with Christ Session 3 Individual – Community

Note:  This study was originally written as part of a spiritual retreat.  For more information about the retreat, click here.

Spiritual Disciplines:  Community

Because God is Triune, we best reflect the image of God only as we enjoy community with others. ~S.Grentz.

We all desire to belong; yet we are inclined to reject anyone who is too different from ourselves.  Being the body of Christ demands that we love one another, regardless of how we feel toward a person.  Practicing community actively requires grace and forgiveness.  It demands a deep love that builds one another up.

Preparation/ Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit, possibly with a view of nature to focus your attention on God.

Place your palms facing down, indicating a desire to release your concerns and anxieties to God.  Name the things that are occupying your thoughts, and turn them over to God.  Take a few deep breaths to relax your body.

When you are ready, turn your palms up as an indication that you are ready to receive from God.

Read Ephesians 4:1-16/ Reread.  Then continue the study by paragraphs.

OBSERVATION Vs. 1-6

  • Observe and highlight the key words.
  • Note the verb tenses Paul uses.
  • To what does the initial word “then” connect us?  (“therefore” in some versions)

INTERPRETATION Vs. 1-6

  • Why does Paul emphasize unity so much in the first verses of the chapter?
  • Imagine what might be happening in the church in Ephesus.

OBSERVATION Vs. 7-12

  • Find the contrasts and key words.
  • Note the verb tenses in this section.
  • Highlight the cause/effect statements.

INTERPRETATION Vs. 7-12

  • What is the purpose of the gifts?
  • What might be significant about the specific list of gifts that Paul mentions here?
  • What is the relationship between the first paragraph (1-6) and the second (7-12)?

OBSERVATION Vs. 13-16

  • Appreciate the illustrations and contrasts Paul uses in these verses.
  • Highlight the verbs, noting the tenses used.

INTERPRETATION Vs. 13-16

  • Imagine what might be happening in the church in Ephesus.
  • What is the desired goal?
  • What are the steps to reach that goal?

APPLICATION Vs. 1-16

  • What can you do to build up and to create community?
  • By contrast, consider your attitudes and actions that might tear down community.
  • Record in your journal the insights that God has given you.

Prayer and Action/

  • Choose at least one action to practice each week for one month to intentionally build community.
  • Receive Ephesians 3:14-21 as God’s prayer for you as you practice community.

Other passages to study as you develop this spiritual discipline/ John 17:20-26, Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-5:14, Acts 10:1-11:30, Acts 15:1-35, Romans 12, Philippians 1:1-11, Hebrews 10:24-25

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