Welcome to the first week of the series, What’s the Difference. This week, we discuss some main ideas of the Eastern faiths and the significant differences between them and Christianity.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
Share Part of Your Story
What has been your experience with other world religions? Have you ever studied them or had friends of a different religion?
As we enter into this new series how can your group pray for you? Are there any topics you are nervous about learning about? How can you pray for God to open your heart?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
What are some reasons it is worthwhile for us to examine other religions and compare them to Christianity?
How could learning about other religions help us better interact with those around us of different faiths?
Where in our culture do you see Hindu or Buddhist influences?
In your own words, summarize what John Dickson said Eastern religions teach about suffering?
What kind of problem does Christianity say suffering stems from? How is this different from what Eastern religions teach?
John shared a personal experience with suffering through the story of losing his dad. How did he explain the Hindu response and the Buddhist response? What is the Christian response?
Have you experienced suffering personally? How has your faith helped you walk through this?
Goodness of Creation and the Body
According to John Dickson, what’s the standard view of the physical world in Eastern religions? Why is the material world something Hindus and Buddhists believe needs to be overcome?
Have someone from your group read aloud Genesis 1:31. What does God say about the value of creation? How should our response to the physical be affected by this?
Even though we know that the earth was created good, after the fall we now see many of the pieces broken. What does scripture tell us God will do in the end (see Revelations 21:1-5)?
What negative attitudes toward creation do we see in our culture? How can it be a bad thing to view the physical world as evil or something to be freed from?
What should be our response to the physical world as a Christ follower? What does this look like for you today?
Salvation is a Gift
Hinduism and Buddhism both look to human effort to earn a type of salvation. How does grace-based salvation through Christ differ?
Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What do we learn about salvation and earning?
What are some “good works” people in our culture tend to rely on today to earn them a place in heaven or favorable life circumstances?
Good works are still important to God as they don’t earn us salvation but instead are a byproduct of our salvationWhat does this mean for us practically?
What are some ways you tend to slip into an earning mentality? How can your group pray for you and encourage you?
This week our conversation looked at a few beliefs of the Christian faith compared to the Eastern religions. Where were you challenged the most? What’s one thing you want to do this week to take a step to grow in that area? How can your group pray for and encourage you?
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
Is there anyone in your life who is interested in learning more about Christianity or world religions? How could you invite them to join you at church during this series? What would it look like for you to extend an invitation to them to come join your group and experience a safe place to explore these topics?
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