The Banner that Unites Us

In recent years our society has been buffeted by a seemingly endless series of health, economic, and political controversies. We may hope to overcome one challenge, only to discover that divisiveness and disagreement have become part of our daily landscape. These conflicts have separated friendships, churches, and even families. In a swirling sea of confusion, Craig Glass reminds us of the Banner that Unites Us, rather than divides us. We can rely on a God of Hope, what we share in the Kingdom of Heaven, how we can be Light in the Darkness around us, and steps we can take to experience Racial Unity. For men who follow Jesus Christ, these are the banners that unite us.

Episode Notes & Discussion Questions

Have you ever traveled down Highway D? The waypoints are Disappointment—Discouragement—Depletion—Depression—Despair.

  1. Historically, have you been vulnerable to one of these or another? Which one?
  2. Which is the deepest waypoint you’ve been to? Can you tell the men in your group?
  3. Have you experienced any of these in the past 6 months? Which? You’re not alone.

Craig mentioned possible approaches to regaining perspective:

  • Change your circumstances
  • Change your expectations
  • Change your beliefs.
  1. How have you seen any of these options work for you in the past?
  2. In the end, changing our beliefs usually results in the deepest, genuine change. Given our current circumstances, how can you understand, embrace and practice “overflowing with Hope” (Romans 15:13) more regularly?

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…” Eph. 4:3

The gospel of Matthew gives numerous descriptions from Jesus of the Kingdom of Heaven, none of which resemble earthly images of kingdoms—powerful, invincible, wealthy.

  1. Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom reveal an upside-down set of values contrary to the world’s. Can you think of other ways in which Jesus’ teaching or actions confused others?
  1. How about for you? Are there ways in which your spiritual choices need to align more with Jesus’ teaching? Are there ways in which your choices or priorities seem to confuse, or bring conflict with, others? How do you handle that?
  1. Since the Kingdom of Heaven is described by Jesus like yeast mixed through a roll of dough, how does that influence our approach with non-Believers? How do we bring about spiritual change in the world?
  1. Have you ever felt like a spiritual mustard seed, small and insignificant, only to grow over time into a “tree” that brings life to others? Is that happening for you right now?
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…” Eph. 4:3

We are experiencing political divisiveness like rarely before in our lives. Perhaps like never before. The world is full of strife and animosity. Far too often we in the Kingdom allow that same political partisanship to overcome Christian unity. This should stop.

  1. Paul reminds us in I Cor. 3 that earthly leaders are merely human so we should not quarrel over them like children. Why do you suppose we are vulnerable to political “hero worship?”  
  1. Have you or a family member experienced conflict or a harmed relationship in this political season? Did you resolve it? If so, how?
  1. The day after the next president is elected to office, regardless of who he is, you will still be an ambassador of the Kingdom. How do you think God will want you to handle that role? What attitudes or actions would reflect that conviction?

Though we may not feel especially effective in having a Christian witness, there are 5 inward attitudes we can adopt that have a life-giving outward influence on others.

  1. Be Grateful
    What are you grateful for? Family, friends, church, work, health, finances.
  2. Choose Joy
    In what relationships or circumstances do you want to grow in choosing Joy?
  3. Overflow with Hope
    Where and when do you need Hope from the Holy Spirit?
  4. Embrace God’s Presence
    When and where do you easily acknowledge God’s presence?
    What would it take for you to become more aware and more sensitive to God’s presence even when it’s hard?
  5. Bring the Spirit of Jesus
    Who needs you to be Jesus for them?
  6. What is 1 attitude you especially want to grow in? Who would benefit if you did?

Two days after what might be the most momentous election of our lives, it’s still uncertain who our next president will be. All indications are, that with likely recounts to follow, we won’t know for quite a while. Many anticipate a renewed season of chaos, violence, and/or fear. What might be called “darkness.”

  1. Craig described being personally inspired by the concept of Light for several years. What’s your experience with that idea? Have you had the same, similar, or different reaction to being Light? Is this a relatively new idea for you?
  2. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) Most of us believe that. But then he also said to his followers (and you and me), “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14-16) What is your initial reaction to that statement?
  3. What are specific attitudes and actions you can see adopting in response to being Light in the Darkness right now?

One might think the Church is racially united, but it’s not.
Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week in the US. This doesn’t mean we have to all worship the same way. That would be a cultural and spiritual loss for all concerned. But we are absolutely called to mutual respect and brotherhood. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God used men of the Journey to be voices for patience, humility, understanding and unity?

  1. Craig said his journey in relationships with African Americans can be described as ignorance—bewilderment—offense—and joy. Which of those words can you relate to?
  2. Is there anything about Clarence’s description of his experience as a black man in America that caught you by surprise? What was it?
  3. As an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven what are you motivated to do in regard to any Christian African American friends you might have? Is there any way you might have a voice, or any action, that builds unity? How about toward Black men who may not be believers; do you have any relationship in which you might be a messenger of Light?

God’s Faithfulness

  1. Is there something preventing you from fully surrendering your life to God.
  2. What are you not believing or trusting God for?
  3. Looking back on your life, where can you specifically see God’s
    Faithfulness?

Racial Unity, Part 2

  1. Craig told some stories of how his relationships with African Americans can be described as ignorance—bewilderment—offense—and joy. Which of those words can you relate to in your story?
  2. Clarence gave more description of his experience as a black man in America, in the past and today. What stood out to you, or might have been a new insight?
  3. Clarence referred to passages in Scripture that can serve as a guide in how we are called to serve one another despite differences: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-41); The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-26); Honoring differences among us (I Cor. 12).
  4. As an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven what are you motivated to do in regard to any Christian friends who might be of a different culture, ethnicity or race?
  5. Is there any way you might have a voice, or any action, that builds unity?

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…” Eph. 4:3

  1. If you are being “completely humble and gentle,” who is a person, in confidentiality, you might bear with a little better?
  2. If the Spirit prompted you to “make every effort to keep the unity,” is there anything you might do or say differently than you typically do?
  3. The last full sentence in the passage above is remarkable. What would you like to say to the “Spirit…Lord…and Father” in gratitude?