Take time to welcome any newcomers and catch up on the past week (over drinks or snacks if possible). Then ask group members to:
Over this term, we’re looking at how knowing Jesus gives his followers strength to face the common pressures of life in a way that nothing else can.
Pray a short prayer asking that, however much group members have previously come to know God, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
In this first section, we’ll consider the kind of resources we need to be hopeful in a world full of trouble.
Now we’ll consider what the Bible uniquely says about the hope we can have as we face the future.
Read Isaiah 65:17-25. God speaks to Isaiah about the new world he will create.
Verses 21-22 describe each person having their own home and land. No-one will be exploited at the hands of others.
Hundreds of years later, this new world is described again. Have someone read Revelation 21:1-4.
Because of Jesus’ death for us, God has made a way possible that we might be part of his renewed world forever. This promised future should shape how we live today.
It’s tempting to read Isaiah 65:20 (“The one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed) and ask why Isaiah is talking about ageing and death in God’s new creation.
Isaiah’s point is that life’s limits as we experience them today will be dramatically changed. Even turning one hundred will be child’s play! To read the passage as if it’s offering biological information is to forget we’re reading poetry.
Isaiah knew that, with the coming of the Messiah, death would be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:6-8) – a vision shared elsewhere in both Old (see Daniel 12:1-4) and New Testaments (see John 11:11, Acts 7:60, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 etc.)
Isaiah 65 speaks of a physical future. God will not abandon the creation he called ‘very good’ (see Genesis 1:31). This future includes all he has made, not just humans – a fact Isaiah makes clear throughout his prophecy (see, for example, Isaiah 35:1). Isaiah directs us to look forward to a time of peace: peace between humans, between humans and God, between domestic and wild animals, and between humans and wild animals. This theme is taken up in Revelation 21-22.
God’s promise to renew his creation means that, whatever happens to the earth within ours and our descendants’ lifetimes, we know that God has a future for it. The present situation of ecological devastation will not last forever.
This does not mean that Christians have no responsibility to God’s precious creation today. As we steward God’s creation, we can be realistic about what we can hope for here and now, all the while knowing that anything we can do is working in the direction of God’s purposes. As Christians care for God’s creation, we can know our efforts will not be wasted: they anticipate our future inheritance.
Have a number of members of the group read 2 Corinthians 5:17 one after the other.
Sometimes we may worry that we might ruin God’s world-made-new, but Paul says that all those who are ‘in Christ’ themselves are totally made new. Jesus makes us new from the inside out. One day we will see the full effects of this transformation.
Spend a few minutes thanking God that, even though we have been responsible for our part in creating the world’s problems, forgiveness and new life in God’s renewed creation can be ours because of Jesus.
If you’re able to sing in your group time, there are several songs that will help you look ahead to our future hope, including: So Will I (100 Billion X); How Great Thou Art or There Is A Higher Throne.
Isaiah’s vision closes with a picture of harmony restored to the natural world.
Watch this video of people talking about their eco-anxiety (4 minutes):
Thank You – Thank everyone for coming, and ask someone to thank God for your time together in prayer.
Ask – Ask those who are new to reading the Bible if they’d like to explore Uncover, a set of sessions in Mark’s Gospel, allowing them to investigate one of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life alongside one of you.
Church and CU – What does the CU have planned ahead? And what help would group members value in finding a local church?
Others – Who else could you invite to join your CU Impact Group next week? These friends don’t need to be followers of Jesus and may really appreciate being invited.
See You Soon – Tell the group where and when you’ll meet next week, and arrange who will bring snacks. (You might like to alternate healthy and less healthy weeks!). See if anyone would be up for sharing a meal or just hanging out in the meantime!
Can we set cookies? We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We’d also like to set analytics cookies that help us make improvements by measuring how you use the site. More about cookies.
By clicking the Accept button below you are giving your consent for us to set cookies.