Study Guide: Living In God’s Peace

Sunday August 15, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

When we experience the peace of God, it frees us from fear and the temptation to take matters into our own hands.

Extended Summary:

Read the passages listed in the key scriptures for this week. These are the texts Greg referred to as he laid out three aspects of our fallen condition. As you read these texts, consider this question: “Why is the command to love enemies and refuse to participate in violence so rarely preached and practiced?”

We don’t trust God:
By asking for a human king, the Israelites demonstrated that they didn’t trust God to be their king. When we put human beings in charge of our nations we are doing the same thing that Israel did.

We take matters into our own hands:
Inevitably, once we stop trusting God to have a plan for the good of all creation we need an alternate plan. And we are quick to create our own. But since we don’t have all of the information God has (and we couldn’t possibly process it if we did!) we are bound to fail to act for the good of all creation. Our actions consistently have consequences that we didn’t anticipate or intend. One example Greg gave of this was the how the Crusades of the Middle Ages helped create entire cultures of people that identify Christianity with anti-Muslim violence. Another example that Greg cited are the “Christians” who commemorated 9/11 by burning copies of the Quran. This too will have unintended consequences like helping turn moderate Muslims into terrorists who will in turn kill more US citizens. Things do not go well when we take matters into our own hands.

We fear:
On some level, we know that the above two things are true. We know we are not competent to run the world ourselves. Because we don’t trust God and we take things into our own hands we are bound to live in fear.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. Return to the question that Greg started out with: “Why is the command to love enemies and refuse to participate in violence so rarely preached and practiced?” How do the three aspects discussed above related to this question?
  3. Read Is. 40:13-15; Is. 26:3 and Phil. 4:5-7 again. What are these texts calling us to do?
  4. Take some time to reflect on things in your life that are stressing you. Is the stress a result of your “taking things into your own hands”? If so, what would trusting God with this look like for you? How could the group support you in this? Give each person a chance to share.
  5. What areas of the group’s life could use more peace? What would “trusting God” look like in that area?