This week we continued the "No Excuses" series looking at how reading the Bible is not as intimidating as it may seem. We opened the night with an activity called "Family Portrait." We split the group into 3 teams. During each round, 1 team posed as a group for their family portrait while the other 2 teams observed. After a few moments the group stopped posing and the other 2 groups tried to imitate what they saw. It was pretty funny seeing their odd poses and then the other groups trying to imitate the family portrait. Afterward we looked at James 1:22-23 where we are told to be doers of the word and not only hearers. We discussed that this means we are to apply the Scripture that we read to our lives and not only hear what it says. James says that if you only hear it then you are like someone who looks at themselves in the mirror then forgets what they look like. We discussed how this is similar to the "family portrait" game and how we are to remember what we read/see/hear in Scripture, and try to emulate what we observe.
We then played a worship set that included "You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)", "Here for You" (Matt Redman), and "Waiting Here For You" (Christy Nockels). As soon as we were finished singing I had everyone open their Bibles to the book of Philemon. This brief letter is only 25 verses long. After spending some time reading this book, we split into groups to discuss the following:
1) Who wrote this letter? - Paul
2) Who did he write the letter to? - Philemon, also to Apia and Archippus
3) What is the theme of the letter? - Forgiveness
4) Who is Paul urging Philemon to forgive? - Onesimus, his former slave
5) Why does Philemon need to forgive him? - He stole from Philemon and ran away
6) How can we apply this theme of forgiveness to our lives? - When we consider how Jesus has forgiven us of our sins, then we should forgive everyone who hurts us.
There were several other questions and thoughts that came up during our group discussions. It was interesting to see that many of the students had never read this short book in the Bible before, or did not remember if they had. I challenged them to read it several times over the next few days and dig deeper into the text. There is so much to learn from this brief letter from Paul. This was another example of how the Bible is not intimidating and we have much to learn from it.