Discussion Questions for Week 1: “Reflection”
Sunday October 18, 2020
1. What insights did you gain from the message this past Sunday? What was most helpful for you? What did you find uncomfortable?
2. Read Matthew 11:28-30. In Jesus’ view, religion should be personally refreshing, helpful and life-giving rather than pressure or a chore. In what ways do you find your own spiritual journey life-giving? In what ways can it seem like a chore? What do you think is the difference?
3. In this same passage, Jesus talks about weariness. How are you doing in that regard? What feels tiring or draining for you at the moment and why? How do Jesus’ words impact you in that regard?
4. The speaker on Sunday suggested that most of us struggle to love ourselves adequately. How did you relate to that: would you say you love or even like yourself? What are some of the ways you struggle to love yourself and why? What are some things you like about yourself?
5. Read Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus seems to be saying that the summary of all spiritual practice is centered around three coordinates: love for God, love for others, and love for self. How does the way you view and interact with God help or hinder your love of self? How does the way you view and interact with others help or hinder your love of self?
6. Jesus called us to be compassionate, forgiving and accepting. Which of these do your find easiest to extend to yourself? Which do you find hardest? Read the following scriptures, and for each one discuss how applying it to the way we view ourselves could help us grow in self-love. Is there anything that inhibits you from applying these to yourself?
- Matthew 9:35-36
- Colossians 3:12-14
- Matthew 9:11-13
7. Do this week’s practice (below) together as a group for a few minutes, and then discuss afterwards how it went. What was easy and what was difficult about it? What made you feel comfortable and what made you feel uncomfortable?
Practice for this week: Self-compassion
In this exercise we are going to practice being present to ourselves in an intentionally compassionate way. Take a few minutes to do this each day.
Begin by reading the following scripture:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36)
Sit quietly and comfortably and try to imagine being Jesus looking at all the people. Imagine the needs of the people you are seeing. Some of their problems are not their fault and beyond their control. Some of them are because of things they have done and mistakes they have made. Some of them are accidental and circumstantial. Allow understanding and compassion to well up.
Now try to look at yourself in the same way and with the same understanding and compassion. Focus on your breathing for a few moments, and be mindfully present to yourself. Who and what do you see? Be conscious of your thoughts and feelings about yourself—don’t evaluate or analyze them, just be aware. Do you feel comfortable with yourself or uncomfortable? Notice any feelings of inadequacy or failure. Notice where you feel angry or annoyed at yourself. Don’t withdraw from this discomfort, but continue to be present to yourself in it. Now consciously and intentionally be compassionate towards yourself as you would a friend in your situation. Each time you feel judgmental or less than compassionate, consciously return to compassion. Let go of any judgmental thoughts and simply accept yourself “as is.” Surrender to the reality that in this moment you can be none other than who you are right now. Rest in this posture for a few minutes before ending.