Huddles: October 25, 2017
Below is the plan for you to follow as you lead out this study of Colossians 3:5-14. At the end of this post we have attached the full curriculum that includes some very helpful Bible background and commentary to help you as you prepare to lead. Our prayer for you is that the Lord will bring this Scripture to life in your own life and that your leading will be an overflow from that! Let us know if you have any questions.
The Lead In
The Heights Students staff will plan the lead in activity to kick off the night together.
The Main Event
- Title: Here and Now!
- Goal: The goal of this section is for your students to grasp that they’re called Christ-likeness through Christ-focused living.
FIRST, distribute Student Guides and make sure students have something with which to write. As you do, ask students if they recall the context surrounding Paul’s letter to the Colossians. See if they can remember who wrote it, when it was written, and maybe even the purpose. Remind them how important the context of a passage is in understanding its meaning.
THEN, begin the lesson a little differently than usual. Explain to students that you want to get a picture of their understanding of what being a Christ-follower is all about. Ask:
- If someone were to ask you, “What does it mean to be a Christian,” how would you answer?
As you discuss, help students see that at its core, being a Christ-follower means that a person has put his or her trust in Christ as the only source of salvation, and has made a decision to follow Him. Explain that a literal change in heart is the result, and that this plays out practically in how we live our lives each day. Explain that a heart change must result in a life change. For a lot of students being a Christian means praying a prayer and avoiding certain “big” sins. Encourage students by explaining that Christ has called us to something more than just avoiding sins; He has called us to actively pursue Christ-likeness. In other words, Christ wants us to be like Him, to show love to the world, and to advance His Kingdom here on this earth.
NEXT, read or have a student (or students) read Colossians 3:5-14.
THEN, explain to students that in this passage Paul is pretty clear about what it looks like to live with the old self versus what it looks like to put on the new self. He talks about things that we are to “put to death,” or “put off,” and things that we are to clothe ourselves with, or “put on.” On the Student Guide there are two lists made for the students, a “Put Off” list and a “Put On” list. Instruct students to go through the passage identifying the specific characteristics we are to “put off.” Have them list these in the column on their Student Guides. The exact answers may vary a bit based on translation. But here are the answers based on the NIV:
- Verse 5: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed/idolatry.
- Verse 8: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language
When students have listed them out, lead your students in a short discussion. Ask:
- What are things that Christ has called us to “put off” because of our new life in Christ?
- Have students read out their lists. Verse numbers were included to help make it a little easier.
- OK, that’s a great list. But let’s take it a step further: Let’s look at these words and come up with some practical examples of how we see these happening in the world we live in each day.
- Answer: Answers will vary, but some examples might be how sexual immorality plays out in pornography and/or pre-marital sex; anger plays out in disrespecting parents or treating others poorly, and so on.
- Look back at this list. Why would Christ call us to put these things off? If your life is characterized by these things, what does it say about your relationship with Christ?
- Answer: These things are a reflection of a life that doesn’t find its satisfaction, fulfillment, and purpose in Christ. It’s the picture of someone who is not focused on Christ. Remind the students that God isn’t into rules just for the sake of rules. His desire is for us to have an abundant life, which is a life that is centered on Christ and finds its all in Him.
NEXT, do the same thing with the “Put On” list. Have students look at the verses and write out what Christ has called us to “Put On” as a result of Him dwelling within us. Instruct students to list them under the “Put On” section of their Student Guides. Again, the exact words might vary, but this is the “Put On” list based on the NIV:
- Verse 12: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
- Verse 13: forgiveness
- Verse 14: love
When you have listed them out, lead your students in a short discussion. Ask:
- What are things that Christ has called us to “put on” because of our new life in Christ?
- Have students read out their lists. Verse numbers were included to help make it a little easier.
- Let’s do the same thing again. Let’s look at these words and come up with some practical examples of how we see these fleshing out.
- Answer: Answers will vary, but some examples might be how patience plays out in how they treat their siblings, kindness in how they treat outsiders at school, etc.
- Again, let’s look back at this list. Why does Christ call us to a life characterized by these virtues?
- Answer: These are characteristics that reflect a life that loves and truly has Christ as its focus. A life characterized by these attributes demonstrates to the world that Christ has a better way for us to live.
Explain to students that it’s easy for our relationship with Christ to become about focusing on these lists. Some people focus all their attention on what they’re supposed to avoid, and lose sight of what they’re called to do. On the flip side, others can focus so much on the virtues that they’re supposed to show that they become flippant about what they’re called to avoid.
Lead students in a brief discussion before you close the activity. Ask:
- What’s the danger in letting our relationship with Christ become only about what we do or don’t do?
- Answer: Focusing just on the “put off” list makes our faith all about avoiding sin, not advancing the Kingdom through Christ-likeness. It leads to a very negative approach to our faith because it only focuses on what not to do. On the other hand, when we lose sight of what we’re called to put off, it shows that we don’t take sin seriously, which is clearly in opposition to how God feels about sin.
- How do we keep these things in balance?
- Answer: Our main focus can’t just be on avoiding sin or doing good. We have to focus on being like Jesus. Jesus was totally sinless and also demonstrated perfect love. We put off sin because it’s contrary to who God is and what He has for us. We pursue virtue and love because it’s the characteristics that Christ displayed and was about.
FINALLY, close by challenging students to consider why the way we live is so important in this life. Ask if they have been around Christ-followers who seem so concerned about heaven that they seem to forget about their calling here on this earth. Explain that God has given us abundant life through Christ here on this Earth! The virtues outlined in this passage come from finding our ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction in Christ. In fact, for the purposes of this study, we might say that they define what a Christ-focused life looks like. Remind students that how they live is important because Christ’s desire is for His Kingdom to advance on this earth. This happens when people experience the abundant life Christ has for us and shares it with those around them. This is the fruit of a Christ-focused life!
FIRST, ask students if they think the word love gets throw around a lot. Remind them that you hear them say that they love their parents, siblings, and other family members, but that you also hear them say they love chicken nuggets, Xbox, and their favorite movie. We all use the word a lot! But, at times we struggle to define it.
- How would you define love? What does love mean?
- Answers will vary.
- Where does love come from? What’s its source?
- Answer: Scripture is clear in 1 John 4:8 that God is love. This means the only source of true love is God. The question then becomes how we experience that love in our lives and then show it to others.
NEXT, have one student read John 13:34-35 and another read John 15:12-17.
- What do these passages teach us about love?
- Answer: These passages teach us that love is self-sacrificial and that it is a reflection of Christ dwelling in us.
- What do they tell us about where true love comes from?
- Answer: Both of these passages teach us that we are to love as Christ has loved us. This means that Jesus Himself is the true and full embodiment of love.
FINALLY, remind them that in each passage Jesus commands us to love one another just as He has loved us. Ask:
- Based on what we’ve learned in FOCUS about our old self, how is it possible for us to love like Jesus?
- Answer: Paul has repeatedly told us about the depravity of the old self; it isn’t a pretty picture. He tells us that we were immoral, evil, covetous, and full of wrath . . . and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. How can a life characterized by these things demonstrate love on its own? It can’t. As we’ve learned, it’s only possible to put off the old self through a relationship with Christ. With Him living inside of us, He gives us the capacity to demonstrate His love to others.
The Last Word
- Title: Love That Binds
- Goal: The goal of this section is for your students to have a practical understanding of what these Christ-like virtues look like in a modern context and to understand that Christ’s love is what binds them together, and makes living out these virtues a possibility.
FIRST, go back and take the list of Christ-like virtues listed in verses 12-14 and make a list of them on the board:
NEXT, draw a circle around the list of virtues and write “LOVE” somewhere outside the circle. Explain to the students that Paul makes it clear that all of these virtues are bound together by love. Ask students:
- How does love bind these virtues together?
- Answer: True compassion, kindness, humility, etc., are only possible because of love. We might be able to show these virtues for a brief moment without love, but in order to show them on an ongoing, consistent basis, we must love those to whom we’re seeking to show patience, humility, forgiveness, and so on.
- What/who is the only true source of love? Where do we get the ability to show true love to others?
- Answer: Scripture is clear that Jesus is the most complete, true, and full expression of love there is. It’s also clear who we are apart from Him (the old-self). Without the newness of life we receive from a Christ-focused life, it’s impossible for us to show love, and the other virtues mentioned in this passage, on a consistent basis.
- Why is any attempt to show these virtues apart from the love of Christ a dead end road?
- Answer: Our purpose in life is to bring honor and glory to the Lord. So, if the good we attempt to do, or the virtues we display, aren’t rooted in the love of Christ, they aren’t accomplishing their intended purposes. There’s no way to know the motivations of those in the video, but if their good deeds and virtue wasn’t done for Christ, in the end it was pretty meaningless. However, if it was done to bring glory to Christ, then it was fulfilling what God had called them to do.
FINALLY, explain to your students that they must experience the love of Christ in their lives and grow in their relationship with Him in order for these virtues to become a part of who they are. Living a Christ-focused life doesn’t happen overnight. But with commitment, prayer, and the desire to live a life focused on Christ, God will honor our efforts, and will use us in powerful ways to impact the world around us.
For the last few moments together, let the students spend some time in silence reflecting on their own life and whether or not this type of Christ-likeness is on display. Challenge them to ask themselves whether or not they are living the Christ-focused life they are called to live. Have them think about what commitment they might need to make in their life to grow in Christ-likeness. Close in a time of prayer, thanking God for the message of Colossians, and the power of His Word to transform us into His likeness.