At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths we find in Hollywood movies.  So break out the popcorn.  It’s going to be an adventure!


Introduction

Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.

CS Lewis—author of The Chronicles of Narnia—was born and raised in the church of Ireland, but at the age of 15 he declared himself to be an atheist.  He decided faith was way too hard, way too difficult, and anything this difficult actually showed there is no God.  He found no life in it, no joy in it and walked away from his faith.

In his late twenties, CS Lewis met JRR Tolkien—author of Lord of the Rings—and Tolkien influenced Lewis’s life toward Christ.  Lewis spent a couple of years examining the truths of Christianity, and then at the age of 31 he had a real encounter with Christ and gave his heart to Jesus.  Later in life Lewis penned an autobiography, Surprised by Joy. The real turning point for Lewis was discovering just how much joy there was in following Jesus.

How did you meet your best friend (besides your spouse), and why did you hit it off so well?

What do you think about the idea that there is joy to be found in following Jesus?  Does that resonate with your own experience?


Understanding

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 4:18.

A lot of people have a wrong view of God, but if you could understand God’s ways, just like CS Lewis did, you’d be surprised by joy.

The Chronicles of Narnia is a beautiful picture of God’s story.  His story begins with the creation of humanity.  God created human beings because He wanted a family.  He already had servants in the form of angels, but God wanted something much better than that.  He wanted real, intimate relationships.

So God created human beings with the ability to choose Him or not choose Him.  Some have chosen Him, and some have gone their own way.  But to have a family of people who wanted to be in relationship with Him, God had to give them that choice.

The challenges that we face are the result of human beings choosing to write a different story than the one God wanted to write.  They’re the result of people choosing not to follow God’s plan.

  • When is one time you felt truly loved, and what made that experience so special?

Have a volunteer read 2 Corinthians 11:14 and John 8:44.

The Chronicles of Narnia was supposed to be a love story of God’s plan for a family, the two sons of Adam and the two daughters of Eve, but the story gets interrupted when one of them, Edwin, gets seduced by the devil and turns his back on God’s story.

The same thing happens in our lives.  Satan tempts us away from God’s plan by telling us something that simply isn’t true.  He’ll promise you everything and then immediately betray you.

He always offers something that looks good, tastes good, feels good, seems good, something that makes us think that whatever Satan is offering is better than what God has for us.

But while what Satan offers may look good on the surface, the truth is they’re not good.  The tragedy is that every time we fall for that bait, we end up in bondage as a prisoner to evil.  It may not happen immediately, but every time we go our own way, we always end up in chains, bondage, and darkness.  It has been said, “Sin will take us further than we wanted to go.  Keep us longer than we wanted to stay.  Cost us more than we wanted to pay.”

  • What are some of the ways that you have seen sin imprison people?

Have volunteers read Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, and Hebrews 9:22.

Death is the inevitable end game of sin.  God is the source of all life, and sin cuts us off from God.  Sin is choosing to turn from God and pursue our own way, our own story.  And once sin enters the picture, no amount of regret or money or good deeds can undo it.  The only way to pay for sin is death.

But God said, “I still really want you, even though you didn’t want me.”  And so instead of us paying for our own sin with our lives, Jesus—God Himself—decided to come and give His life on the cross to pay our debt.

Sometimes people question how a loving God could send people to hell, but God doesn’t send anyone to hell.  Hell is just the place where you can pay your own bill if you so choose. But God didn’t want you to do that.  Instead He wanted to come into you life and give you a way of escape by paying for your sin.

  • When is a time someone has helped you out of a difficult situation without expecting you to give him or her anything in return?

  • Jesus’ sacrifice calls us to respond. First by accepting the forgiveness, the payment for our wrongdoing, that He offers, and second by showing that same type of selfless love to others.  What is one thing you can do differently this week to place the needs of someone else ahead of your own needs?

Hopefully you’ve understood the God story and will open up your mind and your heart to God’s power and God’s love for your life.  John chapter 1 out pretty clearly that to those who receive Him, to those who would believe on His name, to those who would actually invite God back into their hearts and lives, He would give the right to be a child of God.  That’s what God’s desire is for your life.

There are three types of people who are a part of Eastside small groups.

Some of you haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus.  There’s something that keeps you from doing so: maybe it’s fear or questions or past experience or your view of God.  You might feel far from God and be searching for the way back.

Some of you have decided to follow Jesus, but you still feel far from God right now.  There’s something that’s getting in the way of your friendship with God.  It could be ongoing sin. It could be simply not spending time with God.  Again, it could be past hurts or experiences.

Some of you have decided to follow Jesus, and you feel God’s presence in your lives.  You’re not perfect—far from it—but you’re pursuing friendship with God.

No one should judge anyone else based on which category that person is in, and no one should feel judged.  This isn’t about being a better person or a worse person: we’re all sinners.  This is about allowing God to work in us  and being able to enjoy the love, joy, and peace that come from God when we decide to live our lives as a part of His story and His family.

  • Which type of person are you right now?  If you’re one of the first two types, what would need to change for you to continue moving forward in your spiritual journey?  If you’re in the third category, how did you get there, and how can you sustain your relationship with God?

Note to Leaders: If someone is in your group who has not been a follower of Jesus and is ready to take that step, pray with them something like the following.  The easiest way is probably for you to pray a line and have that person repeat it after you.

God, today I want to enter Your story.  I thank you for coming to earth through Jesus to enter my story.  And today I understand that Jesus made a substitute payment for me so that I wouldn’t have to pay for my wrongdoing. I receive the payment Jesus made for me by dying on a cross. Jesus died for me and I want to live for him.

If someone in your group has made a decision to follow Jesus, please let us know by reaching out to Will at wjohnston@eastside.com.  We would love to resource that person as they being their spiritual journey.


Personal Activity

Last week we asked you to commit to praying for 30 days for the person closest to you who doesn’t know Jesus.  If you haven’t already done that, we would encourage you to start.  If you have, keep up the good work!

As you’re praying for the person, ask God to provide an opportunity for you to have a faith conversation with the person.

And remember, you don’t have to have a marathon prayer session every day.  You want to do more than just a quick, “God, be with her…” as you’re falling asleep, but you need only set aside two or three minutes each day.  (Although you can obviously pray longer if you’d like.)

However long you intend to pray, pick a specific time at which you will do it (right after you get up, at lunch, during your drive home, right after you go to bed, etc.).  We do the things we plan to do, not the things we intend to do.


Group Activity

We unleash compassion all year long, but on Saturday, March 4 we're coming together for a Serve Day to share the love of Jesus with the lost and hurting in our communities in some very practical and tangible ways.

We would challenge you to consider serving together as a group.  You’ll not only get the opportunity to make a difference in your community, we can just about guarantee you’ll get to know one another better as you serve shoulder-to-shoulder.

For a full list of projects and to sign up, visit eastside.com/serveday.