Related Verses: Gen 15:6; Num 14:11; 1 Cor 3:1-9; Dan 6:1-3; Neh 2:1-9; Deut 4:1-9; Acts 2:42-47
During this quarter, we are looking at Jesus as an example of working toward the restoration of humans, lifting them up from the degradation that seems to be so often a major feature of human experience. This week, we are invited to focus on the way Jesus won the confidence of those whom he tried to help. A few moments of thought will bring to mind the realization that winning the confidence of someone, or a body of people, is a very good way to gain access into their minds and lives thereby generating some hope of seeing change.
Luke 5:15 is pertinent to this discussion for it give some clues into how successful Jesus was in winning people’s confidence – “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.” (ESV).
- Confidence is the willingness to trust or have faith in someone or something. What are some of the elements that lead to the growth of such confidence? Would you list fidelity, honesty, reliability, constancy, reliability, vulnerability asa possible components?
- What happens to the confidence people might put in you if you fail to be constant or reliable?
- How would you go about recovering confidence that got lost?
- Think about how much more opportunity you would have to influence a group of people who trusted you vs. one that was suspicious of you.
- What does faith in God look like? What would a high level of faith in God look like to those looking in upon it?
- The fact of people having faith in you could lead to selfish ends such as self-aggrandizement. What would you do to prevent that from happening?
- Talk about the kind of vision or picture people would get of God if you or the church you are part of were the only sermon they ever heard.
“Social Capital” is a phrase that is sometimes used when talking about confidence or trust and what they produce. Social capital is a valuable thing because it results in you being given the benefit of the doubt in whatever circumstances come along. It seems clear that Jesus enjoyed a good deal of social capital with a lot of the common people but not so much with the religious leaders. One place to look at in the Bible that evidences some good social capital and the use that can be made of it, is the story of Nehemiah as found in Nehemiah 2:1-9. These verses deal with that often-neglected period of time after the great Babylonian Captivity ended. It was a time of turmoil not so much in Babylon but in Jerusalem, the place where the exiles hoped to return to. After reading the passage just mentioned above, meditate on the following questions:
- How do you think Nehemiah was able to gain social capital with the King?
- What do you think the reaction of the King would have been to Nehemiah’s request had he not held Nehemiah in great esteem?
- Talk about what your congregation could do to earn social capital in the area where it is situated.
- Do you think your city or town would miss your congregation if is suddenly disappeared?
- Notice the comment in Acts 2:42-47 where is stated the fact that the early Christian church enjoyed the favor of “all the people.” That offers up quite a challenge for congregations today.