The BIG IDEA:
The Christian life is an ongoing experience of running away from sin and running to Jesus (repentance) and believing that he is more satisfying than anything else in this world (faith).
We seek life outside of Jesus because we think other things are more satisfying than he is.
Because Jesus is the only source of life and satisfaction, cultivate a lifestyle of running to him.
A u-turn sign tells you that you are going the wrong way and should turn around. That is what repentance means. When we are moving away from God, the solution is to the solution is to turn back toward Jesus and away from the things we were chasing after.
What I want the group to know and understand: God calls us to live a life of repentance and faith — consistently turning away from less satisfying things and choosing to find life in Christ.
What I want the group to experience: Excitement and anticipation, knowing that we’ll always be satisfied in Christ.
How I want the group to respond: By cultivating a lifestyle of turning away from less satisfying things and running to Jesus for life.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
Repentance and faith are key to the Christian life. But it’s easy to think they’re things we only do at the beginning of our journey with God. Repentance and faith are actually key to the Christian life every day for as long as we live. Developing a lifestyle of repentance and faith is essential to experiencing all that God desires for us.
Imagine you’re driving a car and you accidentally turn the wrong way onto a one-way street. What’s the quickest way to solve your problem? What could happen if you keep driving the wrong way down this street?
Allow the group to discuss. Help your group see that the quickest way to solve the problem is by turning around and going in the right direction. If this doesn’t happen, the risk of an accident increases greatly. In the same way, we often find ourselves going the wrong way in life. We need to learn how to turn around quickly to reduce harm and danger to ourselves and others. This study points the way.
1. Read Mark 1:14-15. What do you think Jesus meant when he said to “repent” and “believe the good news” when he walked the earth?
Allow the group to discuss. “Repent” means to stop running away from God and start running to him. “Believe the good news” means people should put their faith in the fact that Jesus came to give life to those who trust in him (see also John 10:10).
2. Jesus gives a picture of what it looks like to repent and believe the good news in Luke 15:11-24. Read these verses. Based on verse 13, why do you think the son ran off with the inheritance he got from his father?
Allow the group to discuss. It seems that he thought there was more fun and excitement in wild living than in being a part of his father’s family.
3. What happened to the son in verses 14-16?
A famine came to the land, he became poor, and he needed to find a job so he ended up feeding pigs.
4. Based on verse 17, what was the turning point for the son?
He came to his senses. He realized that life was much better with his father than on his own.
5. What does the son do once he comes to his senses, and how does his father respond (verses 18-24)?
He returns to his father, and his father lavishes his son with kindness, acceptance, and grace.
6. How do you think this story is a picture of the way God wants us to relate to him?
Allow the group to discuss. God wants us to “come to our senses,” realize the ways we think life is better without him, and run back to him. He wants us to realize he’s a good Father who longs to lavish love upon us. He wants us to see that his love is what we’ve really been longing for all along.
7. What are some ways you find yourself thinking or acting like life is better outside of Jesus than with him?
Allow the group to discuss. Help your group think about things that relate to…
- Power or Control (e.g.: managing weight, getting good grades, or excelling in athletics),
- Acceptance (e.g.: putting too much weight on getting approval from friends, parents, or teachers), and
- Comfort (e.g.: feeling good through food, exercise, watching favorite shows or movies, or sexual and romantic relationships).
8. How do these things end up being like “feeding pigs in a field” (verse 15)?
Allow the group to discuss. Even though these things may initially seem life-giving and satisfying, they eventually lose their appeal.
9. What from this story encourages you to “come to your senses,” turn from less satisfying things, and run to Jesus for life each day?
Allow the group to discuss. It helps us turn from less satisfying things and run to Jesus for life when we picture God as the father in this story. He showers us with kindness and goodness in spite of us not deserving it.
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.