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Lesson 2.The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness?
The Heart of Christianity: Love, Resistance, and Community in the Early Church
Warm welcome to the second lesson of our comprehensive thematic cycle “From Shadow to Light.” In this lesson, we will delve deeply into an essential question that touches the heart of our spiritual journey: Love or Egoism? This fundamental choice, which each of us makes daily, influences not only our personal lives but also our relationships, our community, and ultimately our entire worldview.
In this lesson, we will explore the profound significance of love in the Christian context and how it acts as an antidote to egoism and darkness. We will bring together biblical concepts, inspiring stories, and practical applications to gain a deeper understanding of the transformative power of unconditional love. Additionally, we will shed light on the themes of providence, fidelity, caring for the community, and the enduring legacy of love.
Let us dive together into this lesson to recognize how we can personally and collectively tread the path from the shadow of egoism towards the light of love. Prepare to be inspired, challenged, and encouraged as we explore these profound principles of the Christian faith together.

2.1 A Brokenhearted Savior
The Broken Heart of Jesus: Love, Warning, and the Tragedy of Jerusalem
The section “A Savior with a Broken Heart” speaks of the deep emotional connection and boundless compassion Jesus had for His people, especially concerning the impending destruction of Jerusalem. The text emphasizes Jesus’ love and His repeated efforts to warn and call people to repentance.
The quoted Bible passages from Luke, Matthew, and John illustrate Jesus’ compassionate attitude and His efforts to bring His people to repentance. They also depict the sad reality of human rebellion and rejection that broke Jesus’ heart.
Read Luke 19:41–44; Matthew 23:37–38, and John 5:40. What do these verses tell you about Jesus’ attitude towards His people and their response to His gracious and merciful invitation? How do you see God’s character revealed?
The quoted Bible passages from Luke 19:41–44; Matthew 23:37–38, and John 5:40 provide deep insights into Jesus’ attitude towards His people and their response to His message.
In Luke 19:41-44, Jesus expresses His deep sorrow and regret over the impending destruction of Jerusalem. He demonstrates strong empathy and loving concern for the people who did not accept His message and offer of grace and mercy.
Matthew 23:37-38 also shows Jesus’ deep regret and His loving invitation to His people, but also their rejection and unwillingness to accept Him as the promised Messiah.
John 5:40 emphasizes individual responsibility and choice in faith. Jesus shows that despite His loving invitation and revelation of His divine identity, some choose not to accept Him.
Regarding God’s character amidst the destruction of Jerusalem, it is crucial to recognize that God is always loving, merciful, and just. His heart was deeply broken seeing the suffering of His people. He always sought ways to guide, protect, and love His people. The tragic events were not a direct work of God but the natural consequences of the people’s rebellion and choices.
It is also essential to emphasize that Satan is portrayed as the instigator of chaos, deception, and destruction. He exploits human suffering and weakness to cause confusion and blame God for the consequences of his own evil deeds.
In summary, these Bible verses and the subsequent text highlight Jesus’ deep love and compassion for His people, human rejection of His loving invitation, and God’s enduring love, mercy, and justice even amidst suffering and tragedy. It invites us to reflect deeper on human responsibility, God’s character, and the role of Satan in the spiritual battle.
Read Matthew 24:15–20. What instruction did Jesus give His people to save them from the impending destruction of Jerusalem?
In Matthew 24:15–20, Jesus gives His disciples a clear instruction regarding the impending destruction of Jerusalem:
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.”
This instruction from Jesus was an urgent appeal to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the surrounding regions to flee in time to escape the impending disaster. It was a divine warning signal to save as many as possible from the imminent destruction by the Roman troops.
It is crucial to emphasize how much God was concerned about the well-being of His people. Despite the impending destruction, He provided clear instructions to save lives. This demonstrates God’s loving and caring nature, even in times of trials and disasters.
Reflect on the following statement: We do not judge God’s character by the events we see around us; rather, we filter all events we see through the prism of His loving character as revealed in the Bible. Why is this very good advice?
The statement that we should not judge God’s character solely based on the events around us but filter all events through the prism of His loving character as revealed in the Bible is profound and wise advice for several reasons:
  1. Limited human understanding: As humans, we have a limited understanding of the world and the events that take place within it. Our perspective is often restricted and can easily deceive us. If we judge based solely on what we see, we could easily come to false conclusions about God’s character.
  2. The Bible as a reliable source: The Bible is regarded by many as the Word of God and provides a comprehensive portrayal of God’s character, His intentions, and His actions throughout history. By filtering events through the teachings and principles of the Bible, we gain a clearer perspective of God’s true character.
  3. Love as a central attribute of God: The Bible reveals God as love (1 John 4:8). Viewing all events through the lens of His love helps us better understand the intentions behind His actions and see the world from a perspective of hope and trust.
  4. Avoiding hasty conclusions: Without a solid framework or filter, we might be tempted to jump to premature conclusions about God’s character, especially in challenging or painful times. Holding onto a loving image of God’s character helps us remain steadfast amid uncertainty and suffering.
  5. Strengthening faith and trust: By remembering that God is always loving and caring, even when we may not immediately recognize it, we bolster our faith and trust in Him. This enables us to remain steadfast during difficult times and rely on God’s guidance and care.
In summary, the advice to view all events through the lens of God’s loving character is a valuable guideline that helps us gain a deeper and more accurate insight into God’s nature and intentions, while also reminding us to remain firm in faith and trust, regardless of the circumstances we face.

The central themes of Lesson 2 and the accompanying Bible verses – love, resistance, and community – have direct implications for our daily lives and our faith. Here are some connections and considerations:
  1. Love as a central element: In our daily lives, we often encounter challenges, conflicts, and misunderstandings. Recognizing Jesus’ deep love for us and all people can inspire us to be more loving, understanding, and compassionate ourselves. It encourages us not to give up in difficult times and to show mercy and patience to others.
  2. Community and resistance: The early Christians in the early church remained firmly anchored in their community and faith in Jesus Christ despite persecution and resistance. This attitude reminds us of the importance of sticking together in difficult times, strengthening our community, and standing up for our beliefs, even if it means facing resistance or rejection.
  3. Trust in God’s guidance: As emphasized in Matthew 24:15–20, God gives us clear instructions and guidelines for our lives. It reminds us that we can rely on God and trust Him, even when we don’t always understand why certain things happen in our lives.
  4. The prism of love: Considering all events through the prism of God’s loving character has a transformative power for our daily lives. It helps us change our perspective, find positive aspects in difficult situations, and maintain hope and trust in everything.
  5. Human responsibility: As emphasized in John 5:40, we as individuals have responsibility and choice in faith. This reminds us that our actions, decisions, and faith play a role and that we need to actively work on our relationship with God.
Overall, Lesson 2 teaches us how to prioritize love over selfishness, live in community, resist, and trust in God’s loving guidance in all situations. These lessons are not only relevant for our spiritual journey but also for how we lead our daily lives, maintain relationships, and handle challenges.

Despite life’s challenges, Jesus’ unconditional love and compassion remind us of God’s gracious and just character.

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