The Commandments of Christ
Putting them into practice
Older brothers and sisters are familiar with The Commandments of Christ, compiled by Bro. Robert Roberts. But what about our children? Have we ever made a concerted effort to acquaint them with The Commandments of Christ and talk about how to put the commandments into practice? Families can do this together, and Sunday School and CYC are good places to address this life goal.
Years ago, I tackled this with our CYC. This article shares a few of the practical things we considered. The activities relate to specific commandments as Bro. Roberts organized them in his little book.
I – Concerning God
4 – Be imitators of God. Be like Him in His kindness to the undeserving. (Matt 5:45-48; Eph 5:1).
Activity 1 – Every day God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on believers and unbelievers alike. Every single man, woman, and child on earth lives and breathes because God sustains his or her life. Faith has nothing to do with receiving these benefits from God.
- Be imitators of God. Start by having each person write down two acts of kindness that they can do for other people on a regular basis, regardless of whether the people are faithful to God. Then compile a group list.
- Select at least one act of kindness from the list and talk about ways to implement it in daily life. How would you give this benefit to others?
- Would you ever stop giving this benefit to others? Explain.
Activity 2 – Have everyone write down the kindest thing that they have personally seen someone do for someone else. Be specific. Then share these with each other and talk about how we can do similar things. What does it take to make “kind things” a regular part of what we do?
6 – Have faith in God. Cast your care upon Him. He knows your need and will provide. (Mark 11:22; Matt 6:25; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7).
Activity 3 – People pray for all kinds of things and believe that they receive them. Here are five examples. Think about each example and talk about whether it illustrates the kind of faith in God that Christ commands us to have? One way to answer this question is to identify the perceived need that underlies each prayer. Then decide whether you think the need is a Godly one.
- A middle-aged couple wins the lottery. They become instant millionaires. They are interviewed on television and say that this is an answer to prayer.
- A faith healer preaches that God does not want anyone to be sick. She lays her hands on a feverish man and prays over him. The man gets well.
- A Christadelphian couple constantly bad-mouth other people behind their backs. They realize how ungodly this is and begin to pray that they can overcome the habit. With steady praying they begin to improve their behavior.
- A Christadelphian ecclesia encounters opposition from a local church for conducting a public Bible seminar. Visitors stop coming to the seminar. Earnest prayers are offered that God will remove this obstacle to preaching, and a seminar is successfully carried out in a different location.
- With the cost of living going up all the time, a hard-working mother prays for a pay raise. She gets a promotion and it becomes easier to provide for her family.
Activity 4 – Think of things that the Bible teaches us to pray for. Have each person take a couple minutes to write down as many as they can. Then compile a group prayer list. Select at least one item from the list and talk about how God answers this prayer. Here are two to get the list started:
If anyone has a Bible app, use it to find other things to add to the prayer list. E.g., look at how the word “pray” is used in the Bible. And don’t end the activity without praying together about the things on your list.
II – Concerning Christ
15 – Abide in him. Do not let him slip from your memory and affections. (John 15:7; Hebrews 2:1)
Activity 5 – “Abide in me.” What does it mean to be in Christ?
- Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27, and Col 2:12-13 identify how we enter Christ. What’s the key? Is this just an initiation ceremony, or is there more to it? Explain.
- When we join any organization, we are in the organization. This gives us access to the rights and privileges of the organization. It is like this in Christ and better. Many New Testament passages speak of the privileges – or, more accurately, the blessings – of being in Christ. What blessings are identified in these passages: Rom 5:1-2; Rom 8:37-39; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Cor 12:12; 1 Cor 15:22; Gal 3:26-29; Col 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10? Can we ever lose these blessings?
- “Abide in Christ.” What does this mean to you? What’s the key? How does abiding in Christ affect the lives that we live? Have everyone write down at least two ways that belonging to Christ changes a person’s life. Share these and talk about the practical implications.
Activity 6 – If we are in Christ, the New Testament makes it clear that Christ must also be in us. Read the following passages and pick out the key words and ideas that are associated with “Christ in us”: Rom 8:10; Rom 13:14; 2 Cor 13:5-6; Gal 1:15-16; Gal 2:20; Eph 3:17ff; Col 3:1-4ff; 2 Tim 2:19. Talk about what these mean in practical terms.
VI – Concerning Your Actions
58 – Labor not to be rich: having food and raiment, be content. (1 Tim 6:8; John 6:27; Matt 6:19).
Activity 7 – Do we really believe this?
- Have each person list what they think are the basic necessities of life. Have them number their lists, with #1 being most important, etc. Then compile a group list and talk about why each thing on the list is considered necessary. Does everyone agree?
- Why are most of us not content to have just food and raiment? Have each person write down two things that influence them to want more than the basic necessities of life. Compile a group list, and then talk about ways to keep the influences from taking control of our lives.
- There are brothers and sisters in the world who have lost everything: for example, Christadelphians are caught in the crossfire of war or are fleeing persecution because of their faith. They may not even have adequate food and raiment. Ask each person to write down how they think they would cope with this situation if they found themselves in it. What would help them cope best? Share thoughts.
- Have everyone write a personal definition of contentment. Share the definitions.
71 – Pay your debts: owe no man anything, but to love one another. (Rom 13:7-8).
Activity 8 – Where do you draw the line?
- Have each person make two lists: List 1 – What do you consider to be acceptable debt? I.e., list things that it’s all right to owe payments on. Why do you think these debts are acceptable? List 2 – What do you consider to be unacceptable debt. I.e., list things to pay for, in full, or else get along without. Why do you think incurring debt on these things is unacceptable?
- Discuss the two lists. Identify a basis for deciding what is acceptable debt and what is not. What spiritual factors need to be taken into account?
- According to Rom 13:7-8, what debts do we always owe? To whom do we owe them? Brainstorm practical ways to pay these debts in everyday life.
VII – Concerning Your Thoughts and Speech
79 – Swear not at all: let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay. (Matt 5:34; Jas 5:12).
Activity 9 – Truth is now treated as relative in the 21st century: “My truth is what’s right for me; your truth is what’s right for you. The two don’t have to be the same.”
- Have everyone write down one reason why more and more people are thinking this way. Then talk about the reasons.
- Write three words on the board: integrity, accountability, relationships. Have everyone choose one of the words and write down how they think it is affected by the “my-truth, your-truth” mindset. Talk about this.
- If you have not already discussed the question, do so now: What place does God have in this mindset?
- Where do you stand on this issue?
Activity 10 – Do you mean what you say? Can you be trusted? Allow a few minutes for everyone to think about these questions and then talk about the answers.
- What happens to your personal integrity when you repeatedly make promises and don’t keep them?
- What’s missing in a person’s character when he or she does not do the things they say they will do?
- What does Jesus want from us in this regard? Why?
Send me an email if you would like a digital copy of this activity. It can also be printed directly from the electronic edition of this month’s Tidings magazine, available at tidings.org/magazines.
Jim Harper, (Meriden, CT)