The Gospel in a Fallen World Leaders Guide


Special Considerations for the Frustration and False Gods Episodes

  1. These episodes focus on the realities that Christians experience as a result of living in a fallen world.  Depending on the faith tradition that one was formed by, this may be a new emphasis for some.  The reality of the fallen world means that the world is not as God intended—it is marked by evil and suffering—and Christians experience suffering and evil in this life—their faith does not give them immunity.  At the same time, God is at work in our lives through the Gospel, and that gives us great hope.  Theologians call this the “already/not yet” tension of the Christian life, and this tension is a normal aspect of Christian experience.  Often when Christians experience this tension, they think something is wrong with their faith, but that is not the case.
  2. The conversations in these episodes are also designed to help us understand our tendency to turn to idols to satisfy our desires.  This deeper conception of our sinfulness may make some folks uneasy—if there is someone in the group (or you) who can give an example from your own life to help others understand, that can help free them to be honest with their own struggles.  Use the quotes to help the group reflect on these issues.
  3. These episodes may surface deep questions about situations in their life that group members are currently struggling to trust God with.  As the group leader, you don’t need to have all of the answers for them.  In such situations, the loving presence of the group, expressed through prayer and practical help, is perhaps the best way for the group to minister to them.


Join the Conversation

Record thoughts and questions here that come up as you watch the episode.  Explore them later with the group.

Listen to God’s Word: I Thessalonians 1:2-5, 9-10

Discuss the Episode

1. Tremper explains that Jesus experienced the ultimate consequences of the fallen world when he died on the cross. This realization radically reorients the way we enter into suffering and grief in this life. Have you observed someone suffer with hope as a result of his or her relationship with Christ? How does that realization alter your way of grieving?

2. Don asks Dan and Tremper what they view as the universal purpose of the church. What do you think it is?

3. Dan discussed how the Gospel calls us to enter into the fallen world and the brokenness of others. He described how that has been reflected in his own life through involvement with human trafficking. What dark and broken places in your community might God be calling you to enter? As a group? As a church?

4. Dan discusses the need to understand the purpose of small groups. Do you agree or disagree? What is the purpose of our small group or community?

Reflect on What Others Have to Say

Underline and mark ideas you would like to discuss.

To be human is to be in trouble. Job's anguish is our epigraph: "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." Suffering is a characteristic of the personal. Animals can be hurt, but they do not suffer. The earth can be ravaged, still it cannot suffer. Man and woman, alone in the creation, suffer. For suffering is pain plus: physical or emotional pain plus the awareness that our own worth as people is threatened, that our own value as creatures made in the dignity of God is called into question, that our own destiny as eternal souls is jeopardized. Are we to be, finally, nothing? Are we to be discarded? Are we to be rejects in the universe and thrown onto the garbage dump of humanity because our bodies degenerate or our emotions malfunction or our minds become confused or our families find fault with us or society avoids us? Any one of these things or, as is more likely, a combination of them, can put us in what [the Bible] calls the depths.

A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering. If we do not make that decision, we are endangered on every side. A man or woman of faith who fails to acknowledge and deal with suffering becomes, at last, either a cynic or a melancholic or a suicide. [The Bible] grapples mightily with suffering, sings its way through it, and provides usable experience for those who are committed to traveling the way of faith to God through Jesus Christ.
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Engagement with life is not a comfortable path - but neither is it a boring interstate that bypasses life. The test of spirituality is not in our best clothes and in our religious settings, but in our response to the everyday and the unavoidable; the test is in our ability to bring good out of hardship and joy out of the mundane. When we begin to grasp the real nature of the struggle of this life, the drama sharpens and the details take on significance. The sum of it is this: in loving the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength - in loving our neighbor as ourselves - it is difficult for life to be boring, instead we may find ourselves sorry to have only one life to invest.
Richard Winter, Boredom and Beauty

Resources for Further Growth

  1. Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life, by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III
  2. Not the Way It's Supposed to Be : A Breviary of Sin, by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
  3. The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
  4. The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
  5. No God But God: Breaking With the Idols of Our Age, by Os Guinness and John Seel
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