Uncomfortable Truths Discussion Guide - Week 1

CoreGroup Guide | Uncomfortable Truths - Part 1

Written by Christopher Burford and Sherrill Wall

Ok, we need to talk. It’s time to get honest. You may not want to hear it, but something needs to be said. Ugh. We have all had times like these when someone is about to tell us some difficult news. Those times are usually not fun, but the information is often something we need to hear. This week, we are starting a new series called Uncomfortable Truths. It is a series intended to challenge us in ways to help us grow. We will be looking at sections of the Bible in the Old Testament that highlight special leaders back then called prophets. These prophets faced challenges, yet, their purpose was to help others who had lost their way in life.

Let’s start our time together with a prayer.

Opening Prayer
Oh God, thank you for this group and this gathering today. We invite you into our discussion. Please help us to understand your message and to engage in healthy conversation in respectful ways. We ask that you bless our thoughts and open our eyes to the truth you offer. It is in your name we pray, Amen.

Ice Breaker
Uncomfortable truths can lead into heavy topics. But before we start down that path, one subjective truth involves St. Louis style pizza. It really is a divisive topic for some people. In that light, is there something from your hometown that lights up conversions like St. Louis style pizza? Discuss, respectfully, with the group.

The Head
We are focusing this series of uncomfortable truths through the lens of prophets in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the first half of the Bible that highlights God’s relationship with people before Jesus was born. In much of the Old Testament, there is a noticeable pattern of people constantly pulling away from God. In these times, prophets would emerge to help guide the people back to God. This week, we are looking at a prophet named Amos.

The name Amos means “bearer” or “burden” in Hebrew and it was a fitting name for the work this prophet needed to do. Amos was not a religious leader, but was a shepherd which means Amos was a man of lower status. Despite this status though, we are told that Amos perceived special insight and we can infer that God blessed Amos with these thoughts and words.

Amos 1:1
These are the words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa. He perceived these things concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, in the days of Judah’s King Uzziah and in the days of Israel’s King Jeroboam, Joash’s son.

Amos issues a harsh condemnation of the people of Israel for many social injustices such as mistreating the poor (2:7), taking advantage of the weak and needy (4:1), collecting unfair taxes, stealing, taking bribes, and denying justice (5:11-12). God pursues judgment against Israel for this behavior. It was really a heavy dose of uncomfortable truth that Israel needed to hear.

Amos 4:6  
I have sent a famine in all your cities, and not provided enough bread in all your places, yet you didn’t return to me, says the Lord.

  • In this verse, we see that God’s judgment is not meant to truly harm Israel, but to change their ways. Why do you think this is important to note?
  • What does it mean to return to the Lord? 

Amos 5:6  
Seek the Lord and live, or else God might rush like a fire against the house of Joseph. The fire will burn up Bethel, with no one to put it out.

God offers redemption to those who seek it. The judgment is not permanent. Even when the people were doing things that angered God, He offered redemption to those who “seek” Him.

  • Why do you think redemption is important to God? 
  • What does that say about our relationship with God?

The Heart
  • Judgment could be defined as a decision in pursuit of justice; redemption could be described as being saved from that judgment. What are some other definitions of judgment and redemption? These are big terms. How would you break them down?

An uncomfortable truth is often the result of a behavior that begins small at some point. Like the Israelites mentioned in Amos, those behaviors against the poor didn't happen overnight, but they grew over time.

  • Why might it be hard to spot those behaviors when you are involved? 
  • In your own experience, what are the root causes of those behaviors?
  • How can those behaviors be avoided?

The Hands
  • Like Amos, not all prophets are professional. Can you identify any prophets today from untraditional backgrounds that lead us back to God?
  • By offering us redemption, God shows us a way to respond that is filled with hope. What are ways we can respond on both sides of an uncomfortable truth knowing that God offers hope? 
The inequities written about in Amos are still social justice topics in today's society. For example, on April 22, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments concerning people who camp on public streets. The issue at hand is an anti-camping city ordinance in Grants Pass, Oregon that criminalizes “campers'' within city limits. The uncomfortable truth about this issue is that the “campers'' are actually unhoused people. A ruling by the Court is expected this summer.

  • There are many examples of injustice like this one. What others can you think of?
  • Instead of disregarding these issues, what actions can be done as a way to change our course and to make a positive impact?

Closing Prayer
Hey God, thank you so much for this time together. Thank you for the redemption you offer and for accepting all of us into your family. We come from different and sometimes difficult places, and yet you love us. Thank you God! Please guide us this week as we strive to extend that same love to all people. It’s in your name we pray. Amen

Going Deeper
To learn more about the Minor Prophets, check out this podcast from The Bible for Normal People: Anna Sieges - The Minor Prophets and Why We Shouldn’t Call them That

If you would like a deeper understanding of the Book of Amos, watch this 7 minute video by the Bible Project. It is very informative!

Source material for the summary of the injustice behaviors referenced in Amos can be found here: Religious Sins, Injustices, and the Prophet of Social Justice

From Pastor Charity
With Summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to think about creating or hosting a Summer Hang. These are a great way to participate in creating the community we each desire. Summer Hangs are activity-based social hang outs around interest and/or location. They can be one-time or recurring and are available in June and July. Summer Hangs can be anything from bike riding to service projects to fire pits to potluck.You get to create and host them! Click here to Host a Summer Hang.

No Comments