NUDGE: Discussion Questions 02

For use with Leonard Sweet’s book, Nudge


Nudge – Chapter Two

If you’re having trouble understanding the concept of semiotics, think of it as “reading the room.” Everyone does this. Guys do it all the time. They walk into a gathering — a party, a hunting camp, a ball field, a small group — and they look around and see who’s who and what’s what. Who are the leaders? Who are the followers? Who are the pretenders? What are the unwritten rules? What are the risks? What are the rewards? At twelve years of age, you learned to do this so that you could posture — strike the appropriate pose. 🙂

The difference in Sweet’s nudging semiotics is that you’re not reading the room — you’re reading what God might be doing in the room. You’re asking questions like, Has God opened any hearts? Is he already at work here? How can I cooperate with what he is doing? You’re using the Henry Blackaby tactic of discovering where God is working — and joining him there.

Potential Discussion Questions

  1. Sweet lays out three premises: “1) Jesus is alive and active in our world; 2) Followers of Jesus ‘know’ Jesus well enough to recognize where he is alive and moving in our day; 3) Evangelists nudge the world to wake up to the alive and acting Jesus and nudge others in ways God is alive and moving” (p. 66)Do you grasp and concur with these premises?
  2. Do you feel that your experience with God has been one where Jesus is “present tense” (p. 68)? Is Jesus active in your day to day experience? If one is not seeing this, what might need to occur?
  3. Sweet says, “Rather than wresting the sinner’s prayer out of a person who will say anything to get out of the headlock, it is a nudge toward the undeniable truth that is alive in all of us. Such a nudge is a shared moment over the crib of the firstborn of a friend counting toes and marveling at the entire miniature beauty, the acknowledgement of a miracle. What parent, in that moment, would contradict? There is little talk of primordial soup in or big bangs in the hospital nursery” (p. 70).
    miraclesHave you experienced those divine moments in conversation with another? Share.
  4. Sweet says that “…the bulk of the work of Christ…is not done in a court context. It is done in a hospital context, which is all about health and healing. The quicker we can move those racked by their afflictions from the courtroom to the hospital, the quicker we’re about the healing and restoring work of Christ and the church.” What does he mean — “court context” vs “hospital context”?
  5. The seven deadly sins are: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.  Do you feel like “gloom” is a viable candidate to be included in a list of deadly sins (p. 85)?
  6. Sweet gives ten reasons we struggle to see Jesus: 1) We are too close (over-familiarity? ); 2) We’ve created a false division between the sacred and the secular; 3) We suffer from resurrection phobia (We like the God on the pages, not the God in real life); 4) We fail to see the essential nature of “relationship” in recognition; 5) Jesus tends not to show up where we expect him and not to announce himself with trumpets; 6) We don’t look for him where there is joy; 7) We don’t earnestly desire to see him; 8) We emphasize what WE do instead of what CHRIST does; 9) We want a “real” kingdom, so we politicize our faith; 10) We lose heart because God doesn’t come through the way we expect (demand) he should.Which of these ten are struggles for Christians you know? For you?

What is Mark Driscoll advocating, anyway?

Mark Driscoll has been quite influential in recent years. And anyone who is influential is controversial. Reading one of his books today, I came across his chapter, “eat, drink, and be a merry missionary.” After illustrating his own difficulty with this concept, he explains quite clearly what he is advocating.

“I am advocating not sin but freedom. That freedom is denied by many traditions and theological systems because they fear that some people will use their freedom to sin against Christ. But rules, regulations, and the pursuit of outward morality are ultimately incapable of preventing sin. They can only, at best, rearrange the flesh and get people to stop drinking, smoking, and having sex, only to start being proud of their morality. Jesus’ love for us and our love for him are, frankly, the only tethers that will keep us from abusing our freedom, yet they will enable us to venture as far into the culture and into relationships with lost people as Jesus did, because we go with him.

“So reformission requires that God’s people understand their mission with razor-sharp clarity. The mission is to be close to Jesus. This transforms our hearts to love what he loves, hate what he hates, and to pursue relationships with lost people in hopes of connecting with them and, subsequently, connecting them with him. This actually protects us from sin, because the way to avoid sin is not to avoid sinners but to stick close to Jesus” (Mark Driscoll in The Radical Reformission, p. 40).

Doing this kind of thing requires a closeness with Christ that many  Christians never bother to cultivate.

I think he’s right.

The kind of Christians we Need…

A woman who had recently become a Christian wrote this to her friend:

You know when we met; I began to discover a new vulnerability, a warmth, and a lack of pretense that impressed me. I saw in you a thriving spirit – no signs of internal stagnation anywhere. I could tell you were a growing person and I liked that. I saw you had strong self-esteem, not based on the fluff of self-help books, but on something a whole lot deeper. I saw that you lived by convictions and priorities and not just by convenience, selfish pleasure, and financial gain. And I had never met anyone like that before.

I felt a depth of love and concern as you listened to me and didn’t judge me. You tried to understand me, you sympathized and you celebrated with me, you demonstrated kindness and generosity – and not just to me, but to other people, as well.

And you stood for something. You were willing to go against the grain of society and follow what you believed to be true, no matter what people said, and no matter how much it cost you. And for those reasons and a whole host of others, I found myself really wanting what you had. Now that I’ve become a Christian, I wanted to write to tell you I’m grateful beyond words for how you lived out your Christian life in front of me. ~From Bill Hybels, Becoming a Contagious Christian, p. 56.

Wow — that should motivate us to a high level of authenticity in our lives, shouldn’t it?