Uncomfortable Truths Discussion Guide - Week 3

CoreGroup Guide | Uncomfortable Truths - Part 3

Written by Christopher Burford and Sherrill Wall

Have you ever experienced an event when you witnessed a friend struggle with a life issue and a thought of “glad that's not me” enters your mind? You may have noticed it from a distance or learned about it from another person. That experience is usually followed by a feeling of relief and maybe even a prayer of thankfulness to not be in that situation. The uncomfortable truth though is that God wants us to be responsible not just for our own well-being, but for the well-being of those around us. Wow, the thought of that direction can be a struggle, but we need reminders that God intends us to be outward thinking. The minor prophet we are studying this week is someone named Obadiah and he had a calling to do just that for people relishing in their neighbors’ hardships. Let's start with a prayer.

Opening Prayer
Hey God, We are stepping into some murky waters this week discussing how we can boldly venture outside of ourselves to help others in times of need. You know our tendencies, Lord, are to keep words and actions focused on ourselves and, yet, your love for us is fiercely abundant. Please shine your light on these murky waters. Open our minds to ways we can help and bless the conversations of this group. It is in your name we pray, Amen.

Ice Breaker
Have you helped someone recently? Maybe it was holding a door, or picking up something that was dropped, or perhaps it was something more significant. Discuss with the group.

The Head
As mentioned above, we are discussing the Old Testament Book of Obadiah. Now, to set the scene for the verses below, the nation of Israel had been attacked by Babylonians from the north in the sixth century BC and the destruction was vast. There was a smaller nation called Edom that was situated in the hills due East and they witnessed the invasion. The people of Edom, called Edomites, decided to join the invasion, but they sided with the Babylonians. This was especially painful for Israel, because the Edomites had a family tree that connected them closely to Israel. While other prophets spoke on the wayward behavior of Israel that led to the invasion, Obadiah received a vision from God that focused harshly on Edom for their betrayal.

Obadiah 1:10-16 (Edom’s gloating over Judah)

10 Because of the slaughter and violence done to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be destroyed forever.
11 You stood nearby, strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem; you too were like one of them.
12 But you should have taken no pleasure over your brother on the day of his misery; you shouldn’t have rejoiced over the people of Judah. On the day of their devastation; you shouldn’t have bragged on their day of hardship.
13 You shouldn’t have entered the gate of my people on the day of their defeat; you shouldn’t have even looked on his suffering on the day of his disaster; you shouldn’t have stolen his possessions on the day of his distress.
14 You shouldn’t have waited on the road to destroy his escapees; you shouldn’t have handed over his survivors of the day of defeat.
15 The day of the Lord is near against all the nations. As you have done, so it will be done to you; your actions will make you suffer!
16 Just as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so will all the nations around you drink; they will drink and swallow quickly, and they will be like they’ve never been before.

  • It is safe to say that the Edomites were happy with Israel’s destruction. Descriptive words used at the beginning say they took pleasure, they rejoiced, and they bragged upon witnessing the hardship. Without doing a deep dive into the history between Israel and Edom, why do you think the Edomites were so happy?
  • The feelings of elation grew to something physical among the Edomites. What violent behavior stands out in verses 13 and 14? 
  • Like last week, the day of the Lord is written again. You may remember that this reference has a common theme of destruction and restoration. What theme is strongly referenced in these verses? What can you expect the restoration to be later on for Israel?

The Heart
A more common phrase used to describe the act of looking out for others is “brother’s keeper.” It is a phrase meant to encourage outward thinking. Brother’s keeper is a theme that has been made popular by Dr. Martin Luther King in his efforts toward equality and more recently with President Barack Obama to push forward on new frontiers for equality.

  • Do you consider yourself to be your “brother’s keeper”? If so, how? 
  • We have natural inclinations to stay reserved and focused on ourselves even when others are struggling. Why do you think it is difficult to break out of that mindset? What tools can we use as reminders to think outwardly?
  • An uncomfortable truth about looking out for others is that sometimes we are called to do that for someone unfamiliar or hard to like. The Israelites and Edomites were neighbors afterall and we see how that turned out. What struggles can you name with this truth? How can those struggles be overcome? 
  • The act of genuinely helping someone can lead to feelings of inner joy and sometimes happiness even when the act itself is minor. Those positive feelings may even sneak up on you. Can you describe a time when that happened? Was it recent? In the context of this week’s guide, what can you derive from those feelings? 

The Hands
The effort to help others can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. There doesn’t have to be a significant plan in place; just some preparation maybe to keep on hand for when the time comes.

  • While the invasion of Israel and the words and actions of the Edomites were very extreme, our opportunities to identify others struggling may be more subtle. What things can we do to stay alert to those who are around us?
  • Helping others sometimes involves beginning with the quiet step of active listening. This type of listening involves being fully present and acutely attentive. It involves stepping outside of yourself to engage in meaningful compassion. (There is a link to more information about this in the reference section below.) What relationships in your life could use a little more active listening? How might that benefit those relationships? 
  • What opportunities do you know of in your community for helping others experiencing hardship? Consider how you might get involved in a community service activity.

Closing Prayer
Hey God, Thank you for the gift of helping others. Thank you for the chance to be a blessing for others who need help. Please open our eyes to new opportunities and forgive us when we fall short. We ask that you guide our efforts and show us a compassionate path towards justice and righteousness. It is in your name we pray, Amen.

Going Deeper
Bible Project: Book of Obadiah

What Is the Background of Obadiah? - Bibles.net 7 Active Listening Techniques For Better Communication 

From Pastor Charity
This is the last series with discussion guides. We will start back up in September with the Faith and Politics series starting September 8.

Deadline for Summer Hangs Approaching!

Link this video: https://youtu.be/kMTqtl03Odg

No Comments