This past week, Scott discussed the idea of a moral circle. In Psychology Professor Richard Beck’s book, Unclean, he discusses how we all have a moral circle. Inside circle exists the people we would consider a part of our tribe. Traditionally, they look like us, act like us, think like us and even vote like us. Then there are those outside of our circle. Oftentimes, we treat those outside of our circle differently, but not necessarily intentionally. Scott shared how sometimes it happens at an unconscious level.
It happened in the first century just like it does today. The gospel of Matthew shares this story.
When the Pharisee saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” – Mathew 9:11
For first century Judaism, eating together was a sign of acceptance. You would only eat with those inside your moral circle. Even today, we operate in this way. We are cautious with who we share a meal and with who we hang out. In reality, our very own moral circle has a way of elevating ourselves at the expense of lowering those outside of our circle.
Jesus would lower himself in order to elevate others. Paul writes,
“...being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
Paul is saying Jesus is God. Because of that, everyone was outside of Jesus’ moral circle. Jesus didn’t live the way people of the first century lived. Jesus didn’t live the way we live. Instead, his circle was all about giving himself up for others.
Jesus flipped the idea of a moral circle upside down with the way he lived. It ended up permeating throughout the early church as His followers found themselves elevating those around them in the same way Jesus did.
Describe your moral circle? Who is in it? Who is outside of it?
Think back to Scott’s illustrations (gas station, Ikea). Share a time when you have seen someone intentionally or unintentionally treating people outside of their circle differently. Share a time when you have done it.
Go back and read Acts 2:42-47. What would it look like if we lived like this? What are tangible ways we can begin living a life without moral circles or barriers?
Scott said, “The person of Jesus, his life, his love, and his resurrection inspired the early Christians to change the way they lived.” What are some things we need to change in our lives in order to live the way Jesus lived?
The examples of Batman, Robin and the Avengers paint a picture for us. They help us understand how to live as a community, working together for the betterment of said community. How have you lived as a Batman or Robin? How have you lived as the Avengers?
In John 3:30, the author records John the Baptist as saying, “He must become greater; I must become less.” It is a choice to ultimately choose to see and treat others as if there is not moral circle. How can you make choices this week to live with a wider moral circle? How can you begin to eliminate your circle completely?
Who is one person you can invite to be a part of a group during the Freeway series?
Pray for your Life Group
Pray that your group will begin to widen their moral circles or eliminate it completely. Pray that you will start to see people the way Jesus saw people. Pray that will change the way we live in community with those around us.
Pray of for FCC and Our Community
Pray for our upcoming GroupLink on September 16. We believe groups are the place to pursue healthy relationships and spiritual growth. GroupLink will be an event to connect people into our community groups for the upcoming fall season. Pray for those who have registered, for those on the fence and for those who show up to GroupLink.
Pray for our Global Partners
Praise God for continued healing for baby Silas with the B Family, FCC global field workers in India. Their baby boy was born stateside 4 months ago and they've continued to ask for prayers for his growth and development of his brain. He's suffered a brain injury but is continuing to exceed expectations. Pray that our field workers' ministry in India continues to thrive and impact people's lives despite our field workers' current absence.