What do I do to live into the person that Jesus made me to be?… Do you know what the answer was for me? I did stuff! – Bob Goff, Love Does video
All of us have seasons of life when our relationship with God is really humming — those times where our faith and life sync up in all the right ways and everything just works. We also have the other kind of season. You know the one I mean: the season where faith and life seem to butt heads. Life gets hard, faith seems stale, and we feel stuck. If you’ve ever felt like that, then don’t go anywhere — this Love Does study is for you!
You see, this is a study about God’s love… and the most amazing thing about that love is that it’s not just a bunch of rules or stuff we have to agree with. God’s love is different. It changes things. It brings hope where before there was only despair. It revives faith that feels lifeless. It makes a way forward where there seems to be only a dead end. It’s active. It works. It risks. God’s love… does.
Tapping into this love requires a different skill set than what it takes to memorize answers for a test or to follow all the traffic laws so you don’t get a ticket. This isn’t a love you can earn, buy, or win. It’s something better. Something bigger. And it just might be something you discover more about by “doing stuff” too.
Watch the Video: Love Does Session 1 (8:23)
Love Does Session 1: I’m With You
Love is not just a bunch of stuff we agree with. Love does. – Bob Goff
Have you ever had to do something you were afraid to do? Sure. Everyone has. It is a core part of the human experience. Whether it is jumping off a high dive, riding a bike for the first time, or even professing love, everyone at some point has to do something he or she is scared of — and that’s a good thing. Good because these experiences teach us important lessons about being human and about our life with God.
First, when we do things that we are afraid of we learn that courage is not the same thing as the absence of fear. The first time a child dives into a swimming pool, it is a terrifying experience and no amount of explaining, hand-holding, or encouragement will make the fear go away. To dive into the pool, the child will have to act in spite of her fear. That is the definition of courage.
Acting, even when you are afraid, is something people who are called to follow Jesus have to do all the time.
Second, after we do something that frightens us the first time, the second time is never as hard. And it is even easier the third time. Though the first jump off the diving board may be terrifying, by the third or fourth time you do it, it may start to be downright fun.
All this brings us to the third thing we learn. You may be thinking, I have a solution for this whole tension— I’ll avoid risky situations at all costs. The problem with this is:
(1) no one has that much control over life, and
(2) these moments of risk are when we truly feel most alive.
Have you ever seen a kid go over a skateboard ramp for the first time? Or watched someone complete a tall rock climb? Often you’ll find them screaming in celebration. Why? Because they just feel so alive! Because they did it! When we try things that seem daunting, our lives actually become more full and vibrant.
So, how does God factor into all of this? And what does any of it have to do with Love Does? The Love Does experience will encourage you to get out there and “do” things!
You will be invited, through the sharing and activities in each session, to engage in some holy risk taking. Please, take this invitation seriously and don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Like riding a bike for the first time, the more activities and experiments you try, the less scary they become — because they turn into things you do all the time. Furthermore, every time you participate in the hands-on portions of this study you’ll be training yourself to see the world as a place where you can act creatively for and with God.
You’ll become the kind of person who “does” love effortlessly, just as Jesus did.
Have you ever felt stuck trying to integrate your life and your faith? Maybe there was a time when following Jesus was exciting and vibrant, but now things have started to grow stale. One of the reasons our life with God gets stagnant is because we stop taking Jesus’ invitation to live risky, courageous lives. We stop trying to do the things Jesus calls us to because they seem too scary. This week Love Does is going to provide a platform for you to be fully alive, to take risks, and get involved in bringing heaven to earth. Are you ready? Well, actually, that doesn’t matter. Let’s just jump in with both feet. And if you need to scream… all the better!
Hearing the Word
Read Matthew 1:18-23. Then briefly answer the questions that follow.
- Do you think it is good news to learn that “God is with us”? Why or why not?
- This famous passage about Immanuel is heard often at Christmastime. As a group, can you remember other places in the Bible that God was “with us”? If so, what are they?
Watch the Session 1 video clip and take notes in your study guide. When the video ends, take a moment to reflect on one or two things that you learned, disagreed with, or were surprised by.
Study Questions/Group Discussion
1. “After watching the video, one question I now have is…”
2. Has someone ever said to you, “I’m with you”? Who was it and what was the occasion? How did it affect you? Have you ever said the same words to someone else? What was that like?
3. Bob says that he quits something every Thursday, and that quitting can be a good thing if you “quit the right stuff.” Have you ever quit anything? Was the experience positive or negative? What did it make room for in your life?
4. How do you know the right stuff and the wrong stuff to quit?
5. What does it mean that “God will never quit us”? Does that sound like good news or bad news to you?
6. Have you ever had a dream die? Did it die “alone,” as Bob says, or were you with anyone? Did being with someone help?
7. Bob makes a distinction between being in a Bible study with someone and just “being” with someone. What’s the difference? Is this a helpful distinction? Why or why not?
8. What did you think of Bob’s story about his Young Life leader, Randy? Who has God brought into your life that you can be “a Randy” or “Immanuel” to? To whom do you need to say, “I’m with you”?
Putting Love Into Action
After Bob tells his story about Randy, he challenges viewers to reach out to someone who has been a “Randy” in their lives and tell that person thank you. That is what we are going to do right now.
Think about your life and consider: Is there a person who has been there with you when the going got rough? Or a person who poured out his or her life to mentor or counsel you? Or someone who talked you out of making a bad choice or talked you into making a good one?
Identify such a person… and then, right now, reach out to say thanks. Send a text or an email (try Facebook, if you’ve lost touch). Borrow a smartphone if you didn’t bring one or use a piece of paper to write a letter to send later. The more immediate, the better. Just say, “Thank you for being there for me.” Be as specific as you feel comfortable, but practice the risk of gratitude.
Reflect together afterward:
- What was this experience like?
- Did anyone get a response from the person he or she contacted? If so, what was it?
- How has this activity been an example of love “doing” things?
What Love Does This Week
You are invited to further explore the challenge of Love Does by engaging in any or all of the following activities between sessions.
Remember, this part of Love Does is not about following rules or doing your homework. These activities (categorized as Do, Reflect, and Read) are designed to give you opportunity to jump into the risk of God’s kingdom with both feet. Please answer the reflection questions after the activity as a way to:
(1) process the experience, and
(2) be able to recall it during check-in time at the next session.
Do: Be a Quitter
In the video Bob tells a compelling story about the time he quit high school and made a plan to move to Yosemite National Park to rock climb. Even though that plan did not work out very well, it led to an interesting discipline. Once a week Bob quits something [on Thursdays].
You are invited to do the same this week. Pick something you need to give up (i.e., texting while you drive) or something you enjoy but decide to put aside for a certain amount of time (i.e., breakfast and lunch for one day, television during the evening, checking email/Facebook after dinner).
Bob’s point is that when we quit “stuff,” it makes space for Jesus to bring “new stuff” into our lives. Don’t rush to fill any new time or emotional space you have with replacement noise, activity, or entertainment. Pay attention in prayer to what Jesus brings into your life so you can say yes to it.
- What did you quit?
- Why did you quit what you did and what was your experience like?
- Did you find anything new came into your life through this process?
- What did you learn about yourself by “being a quitter”?
- What did you learn about God?
Reflect: Be Salty
For the Reflect sections of this study guide, we will be going through portions of Jesus’ epic teaching in Matthew 5 – 7, also known as the Sermon on the Mount. In this kingdom-of-God manifesto, Jesus gets extremely practical about what it means to live in God’s world God’s way and to bring about truth, beauty, and justice as we go.
This week, read Matthew 5:13-16.
- What else do you think Jesus meant when He talked about being salt and light?
- What are the good ways you have seen Christians be “salty” with their lives and faith? Are there negative ways you have seen Christians be “salty” with their faith?
- Is it possible to snuff out your light with the way you try to be salt?
- Where are you being “salty” in your Christianity? Where do you want to grow?
More About Love Does
Love Does is a five-week experiment in doing the love of God. Each session will explore a different aspect of God’s active love through the teachings and stories of Bob Goff.
* * *
Watch the Trailer for the Love Does Study (1:42)
How will you “do” the love of Jesus this week, wherever God takes you? Leave your comments on our blog. We’d love to hear from you!