Study Guide: Everybody’s Got A Hungry Heart

Sunday July 1, 2012 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Paul wrote the Colossians to confront a false religion of invoking angels. These invocations were being done because people thought Jesus wasn’t enough. This same type of thought pervades our own society, where people with hungry hearts are searching for more than what Jesus offers. In this sermon, Greg talks about the fullness that Jesus brings.

Extended Summary:

In Colossians, Paul is writing a letter to let the people know that Christ is everything they need. Citizens of the Roman world had many different religions to choose from, even among those that proclaimed to be Christians. One such sect claimed a religion where people would pray to angels for health, healing, and other spiritual experiences. Their message was that Jesus was not the entire picture, and that Christians needed to pray to angels as well as Jesus. Paul condemned this type of religion, and we condemn this type of religion.

Paul states that this religious system looks good on the outside, but it is full of false truth and disaster on the inside. All of the fullness of God is in Jesus. Observing religious festivals, the Sabbath, or rules about eating and drinking are fine when it is a personal preference or conviction. However, it becomes a bad religion when we make these personal preferences and convictions the rule for everyone else.

Paul was telling these Christians in Colossae that they were already in the folds of God’s grace. There was nothing else they needed to do in order to stand before God. These false religions claimed there were other things that were needed in order to come before God. But Paul tells these Christians that they didn’t need to climb a ladder to God because they were already in his overwhelming and loving presence. And they were brought there by Jesus. Our hungry hearts should be for Jesus and not these false religions.

This problem of false religion is still around today. Whether it’s a book on secrets, power, or magic, or even the seven best habits of highly spiritual people, there are plenty of people out there trying to sway people to think they need more than Jesus. They feed off people wanting something else. They feed off people with hungry hearts for more. And instead of directing them to Jesus, they direct them to the shadows of Jesus.

To be truly related to Christ, we die to being in control. We give up the belief that our religion is about us. We die to the idea that the power to do anything dwells within us, because we know it dwells within our savior. We must let go of the idea that religion starts with us and instead embrace a real relationship with Jesus.

We have some important questions to ask ourselves about our relationship with Jesus. Do we want control of trying to get our best life now? Or can we turn over our life to the one who saved it? Can we trust that Jesus’ path for our lives is better than our own? Are our plans, aspirations, ambitions, and dreams truly surrendered to God? We must answer these questions every day of our lives, because we are constantly tempted to pull away from God and do our own thing. Asking these questions becomes a way of reconnecting with our savior and developing a real relationship with Jesus.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. How would you answer someone who asked, “How do we tell the difference between shadow and reality when the shadow feels so tangible and concrete?”
  3. There is some ambiguity surrounding religion when we don’t have A, B, and C to do for God. What are some good guidelines for following Jesus but not getting sucked into a false religion?
  4. We can’t work our way into a relationship with Jesus; it was all his work on the cross. But good works flow out of that relationship with Jesus. Do you think our relationship with Jesus suffers if we don’t do good works? Why or why not?
  5. There may be something in your life that has taken the place of Jesus in your heart. If there is, how can you get back to Jesus being the center? Who in your life could help you navigate back to Jesus?