For this session, you’ll need….
- 1 old, beaten-up jacket and one new jacket, for every four to six people. The older and smellier your old jacket is, the better—but not so bad that people would get dirty just putting it on! (Know any mechanics or landscapers who’d loan you their jackets for the day/evening?) Pair up your jackets, and leave them in an open area where everyone will be able to easily access them.
- a plan to worship
- a plan to celebrate. However you want to handle this is up to you; perhaps you even want to have a separate session for this. But make plans to celebrate together what God’s been doing in your midst over the last several weeks.
Laying Down Your Day (15 minutes)
It’s our final session of this study—thanks for coming! I know you’ve just arrived and gotten comfortable, but I’m going to ask you to put on coats anyway—the coats you see over there.
Have your group gather into groups of four to six by each pair of coats.
Everyone should try on the old jacket first. But don’t just put it on and take it off again—get comfortable with it. Take a whiff of it; get a feel for where it’s been.
Put on one of the dirty jackets; show everyone how it’s done.
Once you’ve done that, pass it on to the next person to try on, while you go ahead and try on the new jacket. Again, leave it on for a few moments—get a feel for where this jacket hasn’t been yet, and what kind of person might wear it.
Pass on your dirty jacket to the next person, and repeat your actions with the new jacket. Once everyone’s had a chance to try on both jackets, bring the group back together. Discuss:
- Which jacket felt better while trying it on? Why?
Ask for one or more volunteers to read Colossians 3:1–16, then discuss:
- How was trying on and taking off each jacket like the taking off of the “old self” and the putting on of the “new self” that Paul describes here? How is it different?
Ask for another volunteer to read the following passage from Day 4. Then, discuss the question that follows.
Our natural “old” experience is life and death, and that experience extends to everything else in this life. The new resurrection life is life and life only.… Gaining this perspective on our lives on earth changes everything, and frees us to become more like the Savior we profess to follow.
- When have you experienced this truth? Or, put another way: How does “put[ting] on the new self” (Colossians 3:9) free us to “seek the things that are above” (v. 1)? Share from your own experience.
Laying Down the Word (20 minutes)
Read Hebrews 12:1–15 as a group, letting each member read at least one verse each. It’s OK to let the same person read the opening and closing verses, but make sure everyone gets a turn.
Let’s connect this passage with how we’ve experienced this study, and discuss these questions together:
- Describe the flow of this passage. How does it start, where does it go to, and where does it end?
- Let’s apply that flow to ourselves now. On a personal level, how has the laying down of your life and your pursuit of Jesus—and the disciplines you’ve undertaken in order to do that—already begun to produce “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” in you? Share a little about that.
- How has that, in turn, enabled you to “ [s]ee to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God”? In order words, how has this study helped you to help others to “lay it down”? Again, share how God’s been able to use you in this capacity.
Have a volunteer read the following passage from “Pick Up Your Cross,” and then discuss the question that follows:
“Your life is no longer yours. Stop behaving as if it is. You cannot force God to lead you into the next phase of your life. You can renounce all you have and entrust your life to him, move when he tells you to move, and rejoice that he considered you worthy to be trusted with anything. Pick up your cross. Consider yourself dead to sin and alive in Jesus. And truly begin to follow the One who carried your cross before you were even born.”
- How are you still wrestling with this idea? Is there fear, a lack of understanding, maybe even an unwillingness to deal with it? Take a step of faith here and be open about what you’re still working through.
Laying Down Your Life (20+ minutes)
Get into your pairs one more time. Give everyone time to reassemble.
We’ve spent a lot of time this week looking beyond this week. For the next fifteen minutes, I’d like you to do the same thing with your partner(s). Talk about how God’s been speaking to your heart this week, and over the last few months. How has God helped you to better understand what he’s created you for, and what are the next steps you think he’s leading you into?
When you’re done sharing, pray for one another. Don’t be afraid to pray not only about what the other person’s shared, but also about what you’ve been seeing in that other person over the last several weeks. Put together what God’s been showing you with what God’s been showing them. Let’s get started.
Bring your group back together after fifteen minutes. Ask for a few volunteers to share what God’s been showing them—but if more than a few people share, don’t cut if off. Let God have his way.
Afterward, lead your group in prayer, again giving everyone the opportunity to pray. Thank God for your time together—and for the eternal life you look forward to together. Ask God to help each of you to go even deeper into laying down your lives before him, and before others.