NETWORD

CITY GRIDLOCK, BUMPER STICKERS AND FREEDOM
John E. Ruffle

Do you ever get angry when stuck in that universal city phenomenon - traffic gridlock? I know I do. Take two days ago, for example. There I was on our motorway heading out of town, stuck behind a gas-guzzling, atmosphere-polluting multi-terrain vehicle for what seemed an eternity. What made it worse was the slogan emblazoned across the rear window: “We sell freedom.”

With plenty of time to contemplate this message, I was finding it hard to see how anyone could fall for such a lie, especially when true freedom is something that money just can’t buy. Even the Beatles had some kind of a grasp on that 30 years ago. But then, maybe an upwardly mobile, bungee-jumping city worker just doesn’t know that any more 1 .

Fighting road rage, my mind was busy coming up with the world-changing bumper sticker with which I would retaliate. Something simple like: “Jesus gives freedom.” I liked that one. Rather more accurate, I thought, might be “Jesus IS freedom!” Only trouble being that it’s an open invitation for our fun-loving hedonist in front to reply with a big “so what?”

Now, what it boils down to (as any advertising executive will tell you) is simply a question of perceived need. Yes, most people count “freedom” as a need, but few have any idea of what true freedom is, and fewer still pursue it. Also, there’s another issue. Freedom may be free, but it’s never cheap. Our freedom cost Jesus His life. 2 It will cost us ours, too. Ouch! Few Christians have a proper grasp of this reality - so the chances of communicating it to a lost world via a bumper sticker are minimal! 3 .

Now my religious, theological mind really warms for the kill. “Repent and believe the Gospel” - that’s the message he needs! Thinks.. Repentance. Is that only for so-called sinners? Or does it include a turning to God that even most Christians will do anything to avoid these days - myself included? 4 This is getting far too complicated - and convicting.. and all over a silly car sticker!

What I REALLY want is for the traffic to clear so I can return to my cozy, insulated Christian comfort zone (or is it a getto?) Indeed, maybe I’m better off letting my false freedom peddling friend, enthroned as he is in his glitzie four-wheel drive, go on his merry hedonistic way. (Although it wasn’t me stopping him. It’s always the people in front that hold us back, or haven’t you noticed?)

Meanwhile, since I’m still fuming in the stationary traffic, let me quit blaming others for my lack-luster faith. Instead, I think I’ll try focusing on a truth closer to home. Because there’s the possibility - just the possibility - that Jesus might be happier if my LIFE was to become the ultimate witness - and not my bumper sticker. 5 Maybe then I’ll begin to know Him who is Truth.. and the Truth will make me free. Now that’s true freedom! 6 .

QUESTIONS FOR GROUP STUDY

i) Suggested Guidelines for Using the Study Questions:

  • a) Print out this page, including the questions.
  • b) If you are part of a small group, work through each question in turn.
  • c) The person whose turn it is reads out one question, then picks another member of the group to answer.
  • d) After the answer, the rest of the group also comment.
  • e) Each question is done in the same way.

ii) Study Questions (1-8):

  • 1a. [For those who live in a country or rural area] In the passage, John is stuck in traffic in a big city. Would you rather live in a city? Why or why not? Describe a time you met a person from a big city. What do you feel about big city Christians?
  • 1b. [For those living in a city/industrial area] Do you think John was in too much of a rush to “live life in the fast lane”? Why or why not? How do you handle traffic jams, waiting for a bus or train? "What would Jesus do?"
  • 2. Describe any time or place where you get frustrated. How do you deal with the way you feel?
  • 3. Describe a walk you took just so you could be alone with Jesus. If you’ve never tried it, what would stop you from a “prayer walk”?
  • 4. What does “repentance” mean to you? Is it something you only do once, or do you find an on-going need for repentance? Share your reasons why or why not.
  • 5. Can people meet Christ through bumper stickers, posters or gospel track?. Why do you think they are a good or a bad idea?
  • 6. In what ways can your LIFE become a real witness for Christ?
  • 7. Describe a time when you brought a needy person into your home. Would you do it again? Are there ways your life has become too comfortable help others?
  • 8. Describe two practical ways that you could be a more caring Christian in your neighbourhood. Are youI prepared to put any of these ideas into action?

iii) Follow-up Notes for the Leader:

  • The next time your group meets, ask each person in what areas they have changed. Ask for testimonies of how lives have been changed as a result. It is always good to review material one or two weeks after a discussion. This way, you may be surprised to find that one or two points are actually working to change lifestyles - which is what the Christian faith is all about!
  • For more group studies, join the Living Waters virtual small group classroom on the internet. You need to make a note of the class key, which is: ZZ4679C59. Then logon in the usual way to: www.nicenet.org Click on “enter a new class” and type in the class key ZZ4679C59 when prompted. This is a free service - you will never be asked for any financial information. When prompted, create your own “user name” and a simple password that you will need to remember for future visits to the nicenet.org site.

SCRIPTURE STUDY REFERENCES

  • 1. FALSE FREEDOM:

    “..Promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”
    -Apostle Peter
    (2nd Letter of Peter Ch.2 v.19, NASB)

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  • 2. FOOLISH MESSAGE OF THE CROSS:

    “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
    -Apostle Paul
    (1st Letter to the Church in Corinth, Ch.1 v.18-21, NASB)

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  • 3. DYING TO LIVE:

    “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?””
    -Jesus Christ
    (Gospel of Matthew Ch. 16 v.24-26, NASB)
    See also:
    Romans Ch.6 v.6
    Galatians Ch.6 v.20

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  • 4. CORE GOSPEL VALUES:

    ”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
    -Jesus Christ
    (Gospel of Mark Ch.1 v.15, NASB)

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  • 5. LIVING LETTERS OF THE HEART:

    “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”
    -Apostle Paul
    (2nd Letter to the Church in Corinth, Ch.3 v.2&3, NASB)

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  • 6. TRUTH AND FREEDOM:

    “If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”
    - Jesus Christ
    (Gospel of John Ch.8 v.31, NASB)


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This edition of NetWord Copyright 1999 by John E. Ruffle, London, England. All rights reserved.

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