Study Guide: Stick and String

Sunday July 10, 2011 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

God’s will is foremost about who we are and not what we do. God’s original design for us was to express his beauty to this world, but that requires us to receive who we are from him. In this sermon, Greg talks about his experiences as a little boy and how his interaction with God has shaped his understanding of who he is today.

Extended Summary:

Proverbs tells us that the spirit of man is the Lamp of the LORD, searching all of the innermost parts of his being. It seems that the Lord takes our spirit, our innermost essence, and he illuminates it to see the hidden corridors and reveals our darkest parts of ourselves. He does this to help align our lives with how he wants us to understand ourselves in this broken world.

God’s original design for our lives was that we would live top-down and inside-out. For God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven, we have to receive a picture of what God’s will is from above—not only about this world, but how we should view ourselves. As our creator, he knows our identity. When we accept our identity from God, then we can live inside-out, showing the world God’s love through our lives. This showing of his love is a direct result of knowing his will for our identity and lives.

However, humanity has rebelled against God. Everything became reversed and we started living from the bottom-up and outside-in. We shut God out, and we want to define ourselves from a very young age. Satan became lord over the physical environment, and we began to let that affect our image of ourselves. Whether it’s a parent that abused us or the kids in school that treated us badly, we let these experiences affect our view of ourselves.

When we come into the Kingdom through salvation by Jesus, our spirit once again is submitted to God. We gain back our identity that God wants us to have. Through Jesus, we have a new identity, a new spiritual DNA, and we become a new creature. However, our psyche isn’t automatically restored. We still live with all of our experiences from childhood, and we still believe some of the false information that was fed to us. This requires God’s illumination to restore this aspect of our lives, and it is a lifelong process.

This is why the first and most important aspect of discipleship is to regain authority over our minds, the way we think and experience this world. The word of God is a two-edged sword that can separate who we think we are and who we actually are. The word of God tells us who we truly are, and with this knowledge we distinguish what is true and untrue in our minds. So, as our mind submits to this new spirit in us, we start to behave in more kingdom ways that reflect God’s love for this world.

God uses this new spirit to shed light on the innermost parts of our being. He walks in the parts of us that are healed, and he uses the healed portions to shine light on the darker portions that need healing. Unveiling our secrets and wounds, our communion with Jesus’ spirit provides refreshment and rejuvenation to our mind, soul, and body. The goal of all of this healing is that we would grow in the knowledge of God’s will in our lives. When we accept the identity that Jesus gives us, we grow in knowing God’s will.

God wants to know every single nook and cranny of our lives. He wants the good things, and he wants to shine light on the darker side of our soul. No matter what your history is, no matter what environment you grew up in or what the kids said about you in school, your identity in Jesus is foundational to life. It’s foundational for knowledge, and it’s foundational for seeking God’s will. When we accept and live in the identity that Jesus gives us in our spirit, we can see the world the way God wants us to and be able to move in spirit with Him.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. How often does your history and environment of your past affect your life today? In what ways?
  3. What ways have you tried to deal with this? How well did that work?
  4. In this sermon, Greg talked about how it was extremely difficult to open up about this topic. Why is it difficult to deal with this issue?
  5. In what ways can you use your imagination to seek out God’s will for your life and identity?