You’re waiting for the bus and drop your phone in the street just as the bus comes around the corner. Before you can grab it, you hear a crunch as the front wheel of the bus meets your phone. How do you feel?
How would your response be different if you already knew you were getting the brand new phone you wanted in two days for your birthday? Why?
Would you spend a large amount of money to fix your broken phone? Why or why not?
What difference does it make when you see the whole picture, not just a part of a situation? Some people call this perspective.
One of the people in the Bible who understood this very well was the apostle Paul. Let’s take a look at what he wrote about himself in a letter to the people in a place called Corinth.
(put the below facts about Paul in a box)
Interesting facts about Paul:
- The Bible is full of stories about Paul. (You can read a lot of them in the book of Acts)
- He was originally a Jewish leader who didn’t believe Jesus was God.
- He was known for hunting down Christians and having them killed until he had his own encounter with God.
- He became a follower of Jesus and traveled all over, helping start some of the very first churches.
- He wrote quite a few of the New Testament books in the Bible.
1. As they were traveling Paul and his friends went through some crazy stuff! Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. What are some of the things that Paul faced? Make a list.
2. Check out 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. How did Paul react to all his troubles? What do you think he felt like?
3. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul says they don’t lose heart (aren’t discouraged to the point of giving up). What are some of the things they give as reasons for this?
4. According to verse 18, what do they say they are focusing on and what are they not focusing on? Why?
5. What might be practical examples of these “seen” and “unseen” things in Paul’s life at this time?
6. How would it make a difference in facing hard times in your life if you know they are only temporary?
Allow the group to discuss. You can relate this to the cell phone story at the beginning. You can also talk about the difference between having hope and not having hope.
7. Going back to the idea of how important perspective is, consider this line that represents eternity. Pretend this line represents all of history behind us, our present day, and all of eternity in front of us. How much of it would be taken up by your life here on earth?
( *Hint: When you compare our life with how long eternity is, our life here would be nothing more than a dot on this line.)
8. Our perspective also influences how we invest our life. Jesus understood this. Read Matthew 6:19-21. In what kinds of temporary treasures do people invest their time, talents, and finances?
Some examples might include athletic achievement, physical beauty, awards and recognition, fame, money, houses, cars, or the newest electronic gadgets.
9. What kinds of things are eternal?
The Bible only refers a few things that are eternal. God, His word, and people are some of them. Others (in 1 Corinthians 13) are faith, hope and love.
10. As you look back at the line representing eternity, how much of your life are you investing in things that last, and how much are you investing in things that don’t?
FOR FURTHER STUDY
For other illustrations of the concept and further study, check out Roger Hershey’s article http://crupressgreen.com/an-eternal-perspective
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.