Study Guide: Burning Love

Sunday May 9, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

God’s desire for us is that we become all that God created us to be. Life is the process in which we can resist or yield to God’s desire for us. When we yield we sense God’s burning love as warm and liberating. When we resist we experience God’s burning love as pain and wrath.

Extended Summary:

The Bible describes God’s love as a “consuming” and “refining” fire. God’s desire is that we be able to thrive in the environment we were designed for. That environment is the presence of God. Those parts of our lives and of our selves that are not compatible with God’s presence will be consumed when we are finally with God in eternity. The process of refining our lives and our selves during this life is the business of life for Christians.

Greg offered the analogy of life at the bottom of the world’s oceans. Creatures at the bottom of the sea live under very different conditions than life at the surface. There’s enormous pressure, little or no light, no breathable air, etc. If you were to take the creatures that live down there and bring them to the surface and lay them on the beach, they would die very quickly. Likewise, if we found ourselves unprotected at the bottom of the sea we’d be crushed by the pressure and unable to breathe. We too would die very quickly.

The environment of the presence of God is very different from the environment of this world. If we want to thrive in the new environment that God is calling us to, we’ll want to get ourselves prepared for it. To thrive in the presence of God, we need to be people after God’s own heart—people who reflect God’s image. This means we reflect God’s character, love, generosity, faithfulness, holiness, grace and truth.

When we reflect these godly qualities the fire of God feels like warmth and freedom to us. But when we resist or suppress these qualities, the fire of God feels like pain and wrath to us. Whatever darkness is not burned away during this life will be burned away at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:11-15). So let us not take God’s grace in vein but rather submit to the process of being purified and refined as we follow Jesus in our lives.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. Greg described the silversmith as recognizing when the metal is pure when the silversmith can see his image in the metal. In a similar way, God wants to see his image in us. How might this apply in your life? How is God working in your life as a burning fire with the goal of purifying you?
  3. How might God be working as a consuming fire in your life? What needs to be burned away?
  4. Are there things in your group’s life together that God wants to purify or burn away? What might they be?